Sarah Hi I'm Sarah, I like to write anything about health, healthy food and other health tips. Healthy living has become a necessity in this day and age, where the body needs good nutrition. Hopefully my writing can be useful for all.

Raw Food Diet And Heart Disease In Dogs

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Raw Food Diet And Heart Disease In Dogs – Misinformation about the causes of DCM in dogs continues to spread at the expense of our patients. In this article, we’ll review the current evidence for making heart-healthy food decisions.

Two years ago, veterinarians embarked on a rocky journey to find an explanation for the prevalence of canine cardiomyopathy (DCM). Widespread confusion and assumptions that grain-free diets are to blame have affected both pet owners and veterinarians. Even cardiologists are beginning to draw the unproven conclusion that high-grain diets are protective and “heart-healthy.” The truth is quite different, as we will see in this article.

Raw Food Diet And Heart Disease In Dogs

Raw Food Diet And Heart Disease In Dogs

Research conducted by Dr. Joshua Stern, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, director of the Department of Veterinary Cardiology at UC-Davis, incorrectly concluded that grain-based diets or the addition of grains to grain-based foods grains promote DCM in dogs. As a result, misinformation about whole grains, kibbles, and raw diets continues to spread. While the research is interesting, the results of this limited study are riddled with faulty assumptions.

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Parents of dogs, even with the risk of DCM, switched foods to increase grain intake, believing that simply adding grain would prevent future heart disease. If we assess the health of our dogs and use accurate and informed nutritional information, this misguided and simplistic strategy must stop.

We know that heart disease can be life-threatening to a dog and veterinarians take it very seriously. The sudden onset and rapid progression of DCM tragically shortens lifespans and devastates families.

Unfortunately, nutrition education in vet schools is limited, and many of us work long hours after graduating. We don’t have time to do research ourselves, so we rely on the medical research community to provide information to support our arsenal of treatments. When industry uses limited research data and imprecise assumptions to create blanket recommendations that may not be entirely beneficial to our patients, we risk doing the same. That seems to have been the case with the DCM debacle.

Our best approach is to assess the underlying physiology and biology to find the “grain” of truth that can lead us to better patient and companion animal outcomes. We should focus on what we know, not what we think. We must let genetics, biology and the nature of the canine species dictate our conclusions.

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We have a good understanding of the important compound pathways that help heart function. We have evidence in dogs and other animals of possible genetic links, nutritional issues, microbiome issues, nutritional stressors and infectious agents that may be involved in heart disease. We know that metabolic pathways require specific minerals and nutrients to produce compounds important for heart function and health. While there is clearly no research that directly links specific ingredients to most cases of DCM, it is clear that there is no conclusive research that proves that diet is not the cause of DCM.4.

Biological, ancestral, and physiological data suggest that regularly feeding highly processed, heated pet foods can create the perfect storm that can contribute to DCM in dogs. But vets urge you to believe the opposite is true. Processed foods are always recommended for DCM patients, while fresh foods are spoiled.

It should be noted that the grain-free trend in animal feed production was likely a response to demands for lower carbohydrate levels in diets, not an actual need for a grain-free diet.

Raw Food Diet And Heart Disease In Dogs

Although some breeds are generally considered to be at risk for DCM, the relationship between diet and DCM gene expression may still be relevant. DCM breeds may be more sensitive to nutritional and other conditions that can cause disease in non-performing breeds.

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Now that we know the importance of taurine’s function in heart health, we can turn our attention to this nutrient. We know that unlike cats, dogs can make their own taurine.

We also know that dogs cannot make taurine without enough copper, iron, methionine or cystine. If a dog lacks certain cystine-producing microbiota in their digestive tract, they are cystine deficient, which will affect their taurine production. Can dogs make enough taurine for heart health without the right natural precursors?

In DCM offspring, taurine deficiency can cause double damage to the heart. It may require more effort to feed all nutrient rich foods to all DCM breeds. Increasing the level of taurine and carnitine in the diet improves the incidence of DCM.5

Compared to small dogs, large breeds synthesize 50% less taurine per unit of metabolic body weight.6 Large breed dogs are at risk for taurine deficiency. Obesity is also associated with low taurine levels in animals. 7 In some dogs, these physiological factors that increase taurine utilization are insufficient for endogenous taurine synthesis. Dietary supplementation or fortification may be necessary even if the minimum dietary taurine concentration is not reached according to current AAFCO recommendations.

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We know that taurine is lost due to the addition of bile salts, especially if the dog eats large amounts of starchy fiber like beets or rice. A popular new pet food ingredient, beet pulp, is more closely associated with taurine deficiency than rice bran, research shows. The amount of these fibrous ingredients in foods is significant. Although a small amount of fiber can be healthy, too much salt will bind excess taurine, preventing it from being processed. If dogs consume a lot of fiber ingredients, especially beets, their taurine needs will increase.

Highly processed kibble foods using low quality meat, plant protein and excess fiber create many areas of deficiency. However, grain-free kibble does not classify grain-free pet food. The cardiac effects of grain-free kibble are likely due to the ingredients that replace the missing grain and meat protein. This does not support the misconception that feeding dogs alone can prevent DCM. It also doesn’t support the claim that new raw diets don’t contain grains, they can also cause DCM.

In fact, the ingredients in fresh raw foods support healthy heart function and do not contribute to DCM. In the two years following the Stern study, raw foods did not contribute to the increase in DCM. Given the research on proper nutrients for healthy heart function, we are fortunate that animal-based foods will outnumber kibble diets, as grain-based and grain-free kibble diets have been implicated in the DCM cases.

Raw Food Diet And Heart Disease In Dogs

Taurine, the most abundant nutrient associated with DCM, cannot be measured accurately using serum samples. Whole blood may be a better measure of taurine levels because platelets have been shown to contain measurable amounts of taurine. However, even measuring taurine with whole blood samples does not provide an accurate picture of the body’s needs.

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We don’t know how the blood taurine value relates to the amount of taurine working inside the cell. Measurement of intracellular taurine content requires biopsy and may not be popular or practical. Taurine is a free intracellular amino acid. Most of the body’s taurine can be expected to be in the cells, which may explain why in many cases of DCM we found that blood levels of taurine were adequate, whereas cell levels may be deficient.

To avoid shortages, it seems wise to rely on practical dietary information based on the nature and biology of the breed. Dogs are said to naturally obtain good amounts of taurine and its precursors from diets of fresh meat. Although they can make taurine and the AAFCO6 does not list it as an essential amino acid, dog foods should probably contain taurine-containing ingredients to maintain cellular levels and reduce our concerns about DCM.

When owners choose plant-based protein sources over a grain-free kibble diet to treat IBD, they are likely exacerbating a low carnitine condition and creating a taurine deficiency in their dog, which may contribute to the development of DCM.

Fresh raw diets prepared by a professional formulator or homemade recipes are effective options. They can help reform lost microbiota in IBD and provide high quality edible protein with sulfur amino acids, taurine and carnitine (and other nutrients), low percentages of saturated fat, fiber moderate and healthy fats.

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The fact that raw foods do not contain grains does not make them equivalent to the problems associated with DCM in grain-free dry foods. Don’t focus on choosing grain-free or grain-free dry kibble (both bad choices) – go for balance and freshness whenever possible:

The most important decision for us

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Sarah Hi I'm Sarah, I like to write anything about health, healthy food and other health tips. Healthy living has become a necessity in this day and age, where the body needs good nutrition. Hopefully my writing can be useful for all.

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