A new paper regarding the pet food link to canine heart disease names multiple popular pet food brands sick dogs consumed, but it misleads and it misses the bigger problem in pet food.
“Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers fed commercial diets” is a recently published paper from multiple scientists including Dr. Joshua Stern. Dr. Stern is a canine cardiologist who’s attention to his clients put into action a full blown investigation of heart disease in dogs linked to the pet food those dogs consumed.
The newly published paper states the study is an “observational study” that collected data on “Twenty-four client-owned golden retrievers with documented taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy and 52 healthy client-owned golden retrievers.” The dogs studied were included from North American veterinary offices and/or universities from January 2016 to July 2018.
The analysis of the data showed “Twenty-three of 24 dogs diagnosed with taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy were fed diets that were either grain-free, legume-rich, or a combination of these factors. None of these diets were feeding trial tested using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures. Twenty-three of 24 dogs had significant improvement in their echocardiographic parameters and normalization of taurine concentrations following diet change and taurine supplementation. Nine of 11 dogs diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) had resolution of their congestion at follow-up with five no longer requiring diuretic therapy and four tolerating diuretic dose reduction by >50%.“
And the study provides this graphic naming the pet foods fed to the dogs in the study…
Per the study data:
Champion manufactured pet foods were fed to 16 dogs that were diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and low Taurine (15 Acana, 1 Orijen).
Diamond manufactured pet foods were fed to 3 dogs that were diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and low Taurine (1 Taste of the Wild, 1 4Health, 1 Kirkland).
Ainsworth manufactured 4Health dog food was fed to 1 dog that was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and low Taurine.
Tuffy’s manufactured pet foods were fed to 2 dogs that were diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and low Taurine (Zignature and NutriSource).
And Fromm manufactured pet foods were fed to 2 dogs that were diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and low Taurine.
As concerning as this information is, the study almost deletes its significance by making a poor – if not foolish – effort to link the heart disease to pet foods that are not feeding trial certified. Quoting just one mention “All diet labels included a complete and balanced claim substantiated by formulation to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles; none had undergone feeding trials for nutritional adequacy.”
To explain the foolish point the study tried to assert…
AAFCO defines a “complete feed” (pet food is considered ‘feed’ by AAFCO) as “A nutritionally adequate feed for animals other than man…as the sole ration and is capable of maintaining life and/or promoting production without any additional substance being consumed except water…“
When a pet food label states “Complete and Balanced” regulations require that pet food to 1) have passed a AAFCO feeding trial (proving ‘nutritional adequacy’), or 2) the pet food must meet AAFCO established Nutrient Profiles. Both of these methods used to validate the Complete and Balanced claim should be assurance to the pet owner that this pet food is the only nutrition your pet needs (emphasis should be assurance).
The study appears to blame pet foods that meet AAFCO Nutrient Profile Complete and Balanced pet foods (item #2 explained above) as the risk pet foods. BUT…the flaw of that assertion is the study neglected to mention AAFCO feeding trials do NOT require taurine blood testing.
AAFCO feeding trials require NO final taurine level blood work of dogs that ‘passed’ the feeding trial. In other words, a pet food certified by AAFCO feeding trials provides absolutely no guarantee the diet would NOT result in low taurine for dogs consuming it (leading to heart disease).
The point of the study should have been to point out we have a serious problem with all Complete and Balanced claims on pet food labels. The study does prove Complete and Balanced pet foods were absolutely not ‘Complete’ for the dogs in this study (and many, many more dogs not in this study with low taurine blood levels and diagnosed with diet-related DCM).
Study authors should have contacted AAFCO and requested discussions to truly fix this serious problem. I’ve not read or heard any mention of study authors attempting to ‘fix’ the problem.
Study authors should be at every AAFCO meeting. Every single veterinary nutritionist should be present at every AAFCO meeting and advocate for improved Nutrient Profiles and feeding trial requirements.
There is a problem, the study authors successfully pointed that out. Now its time to fix the problem. Will any of them step up for that?
To read the full study, Click Here.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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