Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a common medical complaint in larger dogs once they pass the age of four. Put simply, DCM occurs when a dog’s heart becomes enlarged, and can no longer function properly. This leads to a decreased ability to effectively pump blood to the lungs, accumulation of fluid on the lungs, and ultimate death by heart failure. Although DCM’s exact cause has not yet been properly established, it would appear that there is a strong link between poor diet and suffering from this condition.
Recognise the Symptoms
Given how dangerous DCM can become, it is of the upmost importance that as a dog owner, you are aware of, and able to observe for its symptoms. Although DCM may not have many obvious symptoms for a significant amount of time before your dog becomes visibly unwell, once apparent these include a feeble disposition, fainting, breathing troubles, and coughing. Less obvious may be an irregular heart rhythm, which can suddenly result in a dog’s death with little to no notice beforehand. If your dog is a breed known for being prone to suffering from this condition, then it is worth taking it for regular veterinary check-ups where its pulse can be monitored. Although no single diagnostic test for this condition exists, a number of accumulating symptoms should cause concern, and initiate a proper response and intervention.
The Wrong Diet Can Cause Health Issues
Due to weak labelling rules and regulations, the majority of commonly available non-raw dog food (especially dried kibble) is of exceptionally low quality, and may in fact do more harm than good for the dogs consuming it. Kibble tends to contain large amounts of grain-based carbohydrates, which dogs have simply not evolved to be able to digest properly. As such, this has the effect of introducing unnecessary “empty” (nutritionally valueless) calories into their diet, and potentially cause serious medical problems such as kidney and bladder stones.
Beware of Gimmicky “Grain-Free” Diets
One common industry gimmick is to manufacture grain free kibble, and replace grain-based carbohydrates with potato starch in a bid to appear healthier for dogs, and thus more appealing to their owners. However, in reality, this is hardly a more desirable outcome. Even in dogs which do not have a genetic disposition to suffer from DCM (those that do include breeds such as the Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Great Dane, and Boxer), this condition is becoming increasingly common, and the common denominator in many of these cases appears to be a “grain free” diet. In addition to containing potentially problematic substances such as potato starch, grain free kibble tends to lack important minerals and compounds dogs require to function healthily and normally. Kibble is also manufactured through a process known as “extrusion”, which changes its physical and chemical components, and destroys important nutrients.
Diet and Canine Heart Disease
This is seemingly supported by research conducted the American Food and Drug Administration. In July 2018, the FDA announced that it would be investigating the connection between diet and cases of canine heart disease, as increasing numbers of vets were reporting dogs suffering from DCM when their breed was not usually prone to the condition. A number of “pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients” were cited in the FDA’s initial announcement as a particular cause of concern, which also mentioned the potential problems associated with a “grain-free diet”, as this is what most commonly contains the aforementioned ingredients.
Raw is a Healthier Alternative
It is hard to believe that when presented with the relevant scientific research and literature, the responsible and caring dog owner would continue feeding their animal something as unhealthy, and even potentially damaging as kibble when such better alternatives are available. Kibble represents commercialisation at its very worse, and sacrifices quality and consumer health for the highest profit margins possible. In contrast, raw food is formulated and produced with the consumer’s health being the prime consideration that went into it, and far more discriminatingly labelled. Additionally, ingredients which are of direct benefit to the consumer such as taurine are deliberately included, maximising its positive impact. Raw food also mimics what dogs’ original ancestors (wolves) would and do eat, and is far more agreeable to their digestive systems than kibble.
Protect Your Dog Against DCM
To this end, a carefully formulated raw food diet is one of, if not the best ways to protect your dog against DCM. This offers the duel benefits of feeding your dog a product which does not contain problematic and potentially unhealthy ingredients such as potato starch, but also allows you to introduce important substances such as taurine. All of our products contain raw muscle meat, which is an excellent source of taurine, for example. Taurine is an amino acid which acts as an important “building block” for proteins, and thus does much to prevent DCM in all dogs, including those genetically predisposed towards the condition. In fact, one study conducted on dogs suffering from DCM in America found that the vast majority of them had taurine deficiencies when their blood was tested. We are also able to provide your dog with adequate levels of carnitine in their food, which is another fatty acid that has proven to be particularly effective in fighting DCM. ProDog Raw is proud to incorporate this as a baseline in all of our feeds, and if you have any more questions on this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to help.