With the increase of DCM in dogs happening in recent years, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the topic of DCM and pet food. Well, that confusion can finally stop thanks to this Q&A regarding DCM. Here you can learn about the signs and symptoms of this canine disease, prevention and treatment tips, and get the scoop on how pet food plays a role in DCM development.
What is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy?
The most common question regarding DCM has to do with what it actually is. To put things as simply as possible, DCM is when the heart organ becomes enlargened due to a weakening of the ventricular muscles. The condition is very serious when left untreated since the buildup of fluid can eventually lead to congestive heart failure.
Which Canine Breeds Are Most Susceptible to DCM?
Some canine breeds have a much higher risk of developing the disease than others. Generally speaking, a large breed is more likely to develop DCM at some point in its life than a small dog breed. There are a few exceptions to this rule since there are a handful of small breeds with a genetic predisposition to the disease. The most common breeds to experience DCM include Great Danes, Dobermans, Saint Bernards, Boxers, and Cocker Spaniels.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of DCM?
In the early phases of DCM, the symptoms can easily go unnoticed, or they can be nonexistent entirely. Eventually, though, symptoms will show up. The most common of these are coughing and wheezing due to a buildup of fluid in the chest. Decreased appetite and extreme lethargy are also quite common. For more physical symptoms, look for pale gums or a distended abdomen.
Does Diet Play a Role in DCM Development?
We already know that genetics play a huge role in determining whether or not a dog develops this rare heart disease. But the new question is whether or not a canine’s diet can increase the likelihood. There is no conclusive evidence on this quite yet, but pet owners should always be wary of what foods they choose to feed their pets. Although diet may not play a role in DCM, it is certainly a determining factor in other areas of health, like energy levels and healthy weight.
Is Grain Free Pet Food Safe for Dogs?
According to the Pet Food Institute, “millions of dogs eat and are thriving on grain-free dog food. FDA’s investigation focuses on certain ingredients that figure more prominently in some pet food products labeled as grain-free, including legumes like peas or lentils, other legume seeds, and potatoes. FDA has not identified any established link between certain ingredients and incidents of DCM.” Although some organizations are attempting to discredit the healthiness of grain-free dog foods, feeding your dog a grain-free diet is completely safe. The root cause of DCM has always and will always point to genetics.
Although a well-balanced canine diet directly correlates to optimal health, grain-free is still considered to be well-balanced.