I recently attended a day’s training all about respiratory vs heart conditions in dogs at one of the top referral centres and delivered by the top vets in their field.

It had nothing to do with pet nutrition but covered a topic that I always find so challenging when faced with a coughing pet – is it the lungs or is it the heart causing the coughing?

golden retriever dolated cardiomyopathy grain free diets

One lecturer in particular mentioned something so interesting that I had to write a post about it to share with all of you concerned pet owners. She made a point about grain free diets being the potential cause of the rise in the extremely rare condition – dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.

She spoke of a particular case she had been treating recently – a Dobermann with dilated cardiomyopathy who had been diagnosed at the referral centre and came for regular check-ups on his heart.

He was doing so well until his second last appointment when his owners mentioned that he had slowed down, was coughing more and his heart parameters had worsened even though he was having the required amount of medication. Upon further questioning, the owners mentioned that they had changed him onto a more expensive grain free diet. This was the only change that they had made (thinking that as it was more expensive, it had to be better for him).

The referral vet advised that he went back onto the previous diet he was having and with his last appointment, he improved considerably!

Like other concerned pet owners and vets, I had read about the rise in the very rare condition of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs due to the increase in pets being fed grain-free diets or exotic diets promoted by pet food companies as fully hypoallergenic and healthy; when in fact they could be lacking in the essential nutrients that promote heart health.

This latest article in December 2019 seems to show that grain-free appears to be the main culprit.


What nutrients are needed for adequate heart health?

A very quick search on Google for the top nutrients needed for human heart health showed up this search –

Here are 15 foods that you should be eating to maximise your heart health (humans).

• Leafy Green Vegetables
• Whole Grains. Whole grains include all three nutrient-rich parts of the grain: germ, endosperm and bran
• Berries
• Avocados
• Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
• Walnuts
• Beans
• Dark Chocolate

I have read this with a smile on my face, as apart from the fatty fish and fish oil, I must have a very healthy heart as I so enjoy all of the top foods mentioned!

We know that dogs can eat avocados (in moderation), they cannot eat dark chocolate (as theobromide in it can be very harmful to dogs), but the important section I have picked up from this very basic search is –

• Whole Grains. Whole grains include all three nutrient-rich parts of the grain: germ, endosperm and bran.

Pet food manufacturers have all rushed to support the latest hype that your pet needs to be on extremely high meat protein food and have all grains removed, that they may be harming so many of your very loved pets.

Grain free diets are always more expensive, so the pet food companies continue to make far more profit from these diets than the average dog food, so please be aware of this and think twice when feeding that keto/Atkins/raw meaty/expensive grain-free diet to your pet!!!

just be kind vegan dogs
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