We've Done Some More Digging
For the last two years, our team of Kahooligans have been keeping a close eye on all things DCM. Not only is it important to offer the best knowledge for all of you, our extended family, but for our own pets' health too! Now that there has been sufficient time to gather data and compile research, we've got an update that'll serve as some much needed good news for 2020.
An independent investigative review of over 150 research studies on DCM in dogs has found no definitive evidence of a link between the heart condition and B.E.G. (Boutique brand, Exotic ingredient, or Grain free) diets. The research group included veterinarians, veterinary cardiologists, and animal nutritionists from BSM Partners, a pet care research and consulting firm, who analyzed more than 150 studies for the peer-reviewed article.
What the Numbers Say
“We wanted to gain the best understanding of this issue, so we examined the results of more than 150 studies, which taken together did not support a link between grain-free and legume-rich diets, and DCM,” said Dr. Sydney McCauley, an animal nutritionist and the article's lead author. “What the science does make clear is that DCM is largely an inherited disease.” Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) reported cases of DCM include incomplete information, making it impossible to draw any sound conclusions from this data, the authors noted. The article goes on to detail research highlighting a number of other factors that could contribute to the presence of DCM, and offers this conclusion.
The Meat and Potatoes
Recently, a correlation between diets with specific characteristics, such as, but not limited to, containing legumes, grain-free, novel protein sources and ingredients, and smaller manufactured brands to DCM has come under scrutiny by academic researchers and the FDA. The use of the acronym “BEG” and its association with DCM are without merit because there is no definitive evidence in the literature. At this time, information distributed to the veterinary community and the general public has been abbreviated synopses of case studies, with multiple variables and treatments, incomplete medical information, and conflicting medical data and opinions from veterinary nutrition influencers. Also, in past literature, sampling bias, overrepresentation of subgroups, and confounding variables in the data weaken this hypothesis. Additionally, based on current literature, the incidence of DCM in the overall dog population is estimated to be between 0.5% and 1.3% in the United States. However, the FDA case numbers (560 dogs) are well below the estimated prevalence. Therefore, it is impossible to draw any definitive conclusions, in these cases, linking specific diets or specific ingredients to DCM.
DCM is a multifactorial medical condition with many proven etiologies and potential causes contributing to the development of the disease. Therefore, prospective studies investigating, not only diet, but also infection, metabolism, and genetic involvement, must be conducted. In hopes of better understanding a potential correlation with diets to DCM, more objective data needs to be collected and analyzed, without sampling bias and confounding factors. While determining the cause of recently reported cases of cardiac disease is of the utmost importance, based on this review of the current literature, there is no definitive relationship these implicated diet characteristics and DCM.
- Journal of Animal Science, Volume 98, Issue 6, June 2020, skaa155, https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skaa155
We've Got Your Back
Research is ongoing into DCM, and many other aspects of pet nutrition and health. You can count on Kahoots to keep our nose to the trail and provide you with the latest information as it becomes available. As always, we recommend giving your dog more than just a fighting chance at good health with a rotational diet of high quality foods, plenty of exercise, and regular vet check-ups… as well as lots of love, attention, and field trips to Kahoots. Live long and prosper! 🖖