Is ONLY adding taurine to the diet the correct response to diet related heart disease in dogs?
At the 2019 Pet Food Forum – a pet food industry trade event held in Kansas each year – one of the discussion groups included a panel of industry experts regarding the current issue of dilated cardiomyopathy (heart disease) in dogs believed to be linked to grain-free pet foods.
Members of the panel addressing questions from attendees were:
- Jennifer Adolphe, PhD, nutrition manager for Petcurean Pet Nutrition
- Chris Marinangeli, PhD, director of nutrition, scientific and regulatory affairs for Pulse Canada
- Anna Kate Shoveller, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Animal Biosciences, at University of Guelph
The question “Should pet food formulators supplement dog foods with taurine to avoid concerns over dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)?” was asked of the panel.
Per the PetFoodIndustry.com story about this panel discussion, the response from the panel was:
“Yes…yes…yes,” they said, chuckling at their repetition of a simple answer to a complex question.
It certainly was a simple answer to a very complex question. A simple answer that does not address the dogs diagnosed with DCM that have normal blood taurine levels.
Per the last FDA update on the DCM investigation (February 2019), reports received by the agency included a significant percentage of dogs with normal or high taurine levels diagnosed with DCM. From the FDA February 2019 update:
Table 2. Number of pets with various taurine levels (either whole blood and/or plasma) and echocardiogram changes based on medical record review for dogs with a taurine test.
|Low taurine with DCM||39 (37 dogs, 2 cats)|
|Normal taurine with DCM*||18 dogs|
|High taurine with DCM||11 dogs|
|Low taurine with non-DCM heart changes||10 dogs|
|Low taurine with normal heart||6 dogs|
|Normal taurine with non-DCM heart changes||1 dog|
|Normal taurine and normal heart||2 dogs|
These stats were ignored by the industry representatives.
A simple answer of ‘yes, add taurine’ ignores the estimated 40% of the total DCM cases reported to FDA that have normal blood taurine levels.
Industry was suggesting to put a band-aid on the DCM problem. It was an irresponsible response.
How many cases of DCM have been reported to FDA?
Per the FDA’s last update:
Animal numbers in DCM Reports received between January 1, 2014 and November 30, 2018
|Number of reactions||Number of deaths|
*Cats are generally more likely to develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a heart disease)
In comparison, the FDA website gives us the following numbers of pet owner reports received by the agency regarding sick or dying pets linked to jerky treats imported from China:
In a similar time frame (4 years – 2011 through 2014), FDA received an estimated 5,000 pet owner reports of illness/death linked to Chinese imported jerky treats. (By the way, the FDA has never determined a cause of the thousands of pet illnesses and deaths linked to these treats.)
Hopefully the FDA will provide more information to pet owners soon regarding their DCM investigation.
Should your pet be diagnosed with DCM, please report the issue to FDA. Click Here for the instructions to report to FDA.
To read the FDA update on DCM investigation, Click Here.
To read the lab result information from FDA regarding DCM investigation, Click Here.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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