02661: Investigation into Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

Grant Status: Open

Grant Amount: $211,521
Darcy B. Adin, DVM, MS; University of Florida
April 1, 2019 - March 31, 2025

Sponsor(s): Affenpinscher Rescue of America, Clumber Spaniel Health Foundation, Golden Retriever Foundation, Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc., Irish Setter Club of America Foundation, Irish Setter Club of Milwaukee, Inc.,National Beagle Club, Portuguese Water Dog Foundation, Inc., Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc., Vizsla Club of America Welfare Foundation, Whippet Health Foundation, Inc.

Breed(s): Whippet, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer
Research Program Area: Cardiology
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Co-investigators: Lisa Freeman, DVM, PhD and John Rush, DVM, MS, Tufts University; Rebecca Stepien, DVM, MS, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Amara Estrada, DVM and Margaret Sleeper, VMD, University of Florida; Joshua Stern, DVM, PhD, University of California, Davis

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a serious disease of the heart muscle whereby the heart becomes enlarged with weak contractions. DCM can result in abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure or sudden death. In dogs, DCM most often occurs in large- and giant-breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Great Danes; in these dogs, survival time after diagnosis is often only months, even with aggressive medical therapy. Recently, veterinary cardiologists have recognized DCM more frequently in all breeds of dogs including mixed breeds, and even those not usually associated with DCM. There is suspicion that the disease in some dogs is associated with boutique, exotic ingredient, or grain-free (BEG) diets. Some affected dogs on such diets have shown reversal or improvement of their disease after changing their diet, supporting a potential association between consumption of a BEG diet and development of DCM. A specific cause, however, has not been identified, despite extensive nutritional testing of the dog foods and the canine patients. Moreover, the extent of the problem is unknown because only dogs that are symptomatic for DCM have been reported. It is possible that more dogs may be affected but not yet showing signs of heart disease. To investigate the extent of diet-associated heart problems in dogs, this multi-institutional team of veterinary cardiologists and nutritionists will prospectively screen a large population of apparently healthy dogs for DCM and compare important cardiac disease measures, including ultrasound of the heart, blood biomarker and taurine concentrations, and the frequency of DCM in dogs eating BEG versus non-BEG diets.

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Brethel, Sara, Seth Locker, Renee Girens, Paulo Rivera, Kathryn Meurs, and Darcy Adin. “The Effect of Taurine Supplementation on the Renin–Angiotensin–Aldosterone System of Dogs with Congestive Heart Failure.” Scientific Reports 13, no. 1 (July 3, 2023): 10700. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-37978-1.

Adin DB, Hernandez JA. Influence of sex on renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system metabolites and enzymes in Doberman Pinschers. J Vet Intern Med. 2023;37(1): 22‐27. doi:10.1111/jvim.16589

Stepien, RL, Kellihan, HB, Visser, LC, Wenholz, L, Luis Fuentes, V. Echocardiographic values for normal conditioned and unconditioned North American whippets. J Vet Intern Med. 2023; 1- 12. doi:10.1111/jvim.16691

Adin, D., Freeman, L., Stepien, R., Rush, J. E., Tjostheim, S., Kellihan, H., Aherne, M., Vereb, M., & Goldberg, R. (2021). Effect of type of diet on blood and plasma taurine concentrations, cardiac biomarkers, and echocardiograms in 4 dog breeds. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.16075

Haimovitz, D., Vereb, M., Freeman, L., Goldberg, R., Lessard, D., Rush, J., & Adin, D. (2022). Effect of diet change in healthy dogs with subclinical cardiac biomarker or echocardiographic abnormalities. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.16416

Adin, D. B., Haimovitz, D., Freeman, L. M., & Rush, J. E. (2022). Untargeted global metabolomic profiling of healthy dogs grouped on the basis of grain inclusivity of their diet and of dogs with subclinical cardiac abnormalities that underwent a diet change. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 83(9). https://doi.org/10.2460/ajvr.22.03.0054

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