Rodney Habib hosted a Facebook Live comparing the amino acid profile of several popular dry dog foods to explain one possible reason we're seeing a rise of DCM in dogs.
Used with the permission of Rodney Habib

Yesterday, Rodney hosted a Live on Facebook to discuss new findings surrounding the connection between dog food and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition where due to an enlarged and weakened left ventricle, the heart's ability to pump blood is decreased. DCM is that is taking the lives of many dogs and concern for pet parents as we question what we're feeding our dogs. And no one seems to understand the connection. At first, it was the grain-free diets. Now it's the amino acids. Someone else said that it's due to a dog being predisposed to being unable to adequately absorb taurine.

What the hell is the answer? Is the food we feed our dogs safe?

DCM Updates, July 2019

DCM has been in the news for months, and for some pet parents, this has been a concern for much longer. When I first learned about dilated cardiomyopathy, I believed the reports that it was related to grain-free diets. Rodney and Karen interviewed Dr. Steven Gundry a year ago (scroll down to watch that video) and it was explained how legumes are basically an anti-nutrient that blocks the absorption of nutrients, including taurine, and this is leading to dilated cardiomyopathy in our pets.

So, which is it?

  • A predisposition to dilated cardiomyopathy?
  • The legumes that replace the grains in the grain-free diets?
  • The lack of amino acids in some pet foods?

But right now, the question that seems to be on most people's mind is “did Rodney Habib just recommend Purina Pro Plan?”

READ: Does Raw Feeding Lead to Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Rodney Habib DOES NOT Endorse Processed Diets for Pets

First things first, are people high? In the Live, Rodney repeatedly states that he doesn't recommend processed diets for pets. His Live wasn't an infomercial or endorsement of Purina Pro Plan, it was pointing out that several pet food manufacturers are claiming that they're the best when they are so obviously lacking in amino acids and Vitamin B based on independent analysis of a bag of each dog food:

  • Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind, Adult 7+ Chicken and Rice
  • Royal Canin G/I Low Fat Chicken
  • Taste of the Wild Pacific Steam
  • Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Fish
  • VDog Kinder Kibble Mini Bites
Rodney Habib hosted a Facebook Live on July 13, 2019 sharing the Amino Acid test results for Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Taste of the Wild, Natural Balance, and the vegan dog food V-Dog
Rodney Habib hosted a Facebook Live on July 13, 2019 sharing the Amino Acid test results for Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Taste of the Wild, Natural Balance, and the vegan dog food V-Dog
Rodney Habib hosted a Facebook Live on July 13, 2019 sharing the Amino Acid test results for Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Taste of the Wild, Natural Balance, and the vegan dog food V-Dog

As you can see from the images, which I got directly from Rodney Habib, Purina Pro Plan [Bright Mind} is leading the charge and is seemingly the healthiest dog food. So we should all switch to Purina Pro Plan, right?

WRONG! We need to take a step back and start asking questions, because if we don't who will?

  • I learned that pet food manufacturers are not meeting the needs of our dogs despite being AAFCO approved.
  • I believe that we need to start asking more questions of these manufacturers to make sure that the food provides adequate nutrition for our dogs.
  • And, finally, it's obvious to me that there isn't a simple solution or explanation for dilated cardiomyopathy.

What's the Best Diet for Dogs?

This is where my bias shows because if you ask me what the best diet for dogs is, I'm going to say “raw dog food,” of course. I believe that feeding a balanced and varied diet of fresh food ensures that my dogs are getting enough amino acids and I know that they are enjoying ample taurine.

The key here is BALANCED.

I know that this has become a negative word as of late and I can't say that I don't agree. The idea of balancing a dog's diet is daunting and I remember saying “I don't balance my diet.” A year ago, I began to change my mind about balance and now believe that not only is it key to raising healthy dogs, balancing a dog's diet doesn't have to be hard.

READ: “Balance” is the Elephant in the Raw Feeding Groups

Source of Amino Acids for Dogs

Yesterday, someone asked which foods are high in amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so it makes sense that if you want to make sure your dog is getting sufficient amino acids, you choose high protein foods. Raw foods that I feed to my dogs that meet their amino acid requirements include:

  • lean meat
  • dairy (raw goat's milk, kefir, cheese, eggs)
  • fish (sardines, carp, mackerel)

Source of Taurine for Dogs

I recorded a video with Dr. Laurie Coger about raw feeding, Purina Pro Plan, and taurine a month or so ago. The point of the video was to discuss the benefits of feeding fresh food and in the video, Dr. Coger mentioned that when food is cooked, like with a home cooked diet for dogs, the natural stores of taurine in the meat decreases and a taurine supplement may be necessary.

Please note that Dr. Coger did not suggest that people who feed kibble need to add a taurine supplement to avoid dilated cardiomyopathy.

I'm raising four healthy dogs and none of their wellness checks or bloodwork have shown a difficulty synthesizing taurine. Therefore, while all the news of DCM has been going on, I haven't been worried. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't make sure that there is ample taurine in their diet.

Raw foods that I feed to my dogs that are rich in taurine include:

  • cow's milk (kefir by Answers Pet Food)
  • shellfish (green-lipped mussels)
  • eggs
  • sardines
  • beef
  • lamb

If your dog can eat chicken and turkey (Rodrigo has an intolerance so I don't feed these proteins), the dark meat is also rich in taurine. If you've followed me for a while, then you may know that I add oysters to my dogs' diet because they're rich in zinc. I didn't include them with the shellfish above, because I feed cooked oysters, not raw oysters.

What About Dogs Genetically Prone to DCM?

If you have a dog that is genetically prone to developing dilated cardiomyopathy, then this must be a scary discussion for you. I don't have an answer because I don't have any experience with DCM. My best recommendation is to find a veterinarian who is staying current on the information who can best guide you on health and diet for your dog.

I would love to say “feed raw dog food,” but we all know that raw feeding isn't the solution to everything despite how passionate I am about feeding fresh food.

So, What's Next with DCM?

When it comes to dilated cardiomyopathy, I have learned from all the videos, articles, and discussions on Facebook that we are seeing several things happening with our dogs:

  • There are dogs that have a predisposition to dilated cardiomyopathy.
  • There are dogs that genetically have trouble synthesizing taurine.
  • The legumes pet food manufacturers used when creating grain-free diets may have reduced grain allergies in dogs, but they blocked taurine absorption.
  • Many of the foods listed on the FDA report are low in amino acids (which help the body grow and function properly).

So what do we do? What do we feed our dogs?

If you feed a diet of raw dog food, make sure that you're feeding a balanced diet. You can do this by tracking nutrients in a spreadsheet, using a program to formulate meals, or hiring a reputable professional to formulate meals.

If you feed dry dog food, then I suggest contacting the manufacturer or you preferred dog food and asking for an amino acid profile of the food. The images above give you an idea of what you're looking for and you can always review the results with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is getting the right food. If you have a veterinarian who can help you with this decision, Dr. Laurie Coger offers consultations and meal planning.

DCM Updates: July 2018

What is Cardiomyopathy?