Story at a glance

  • Researchers with Tufts University published a new study in Scientific Reports.
  • The study examined and compared the compounds in dog foods flagged by the FDA as being linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy with those from standard dog foods.
  • Compounds from peas and potatoes were among those identified in the study.

A new study has identified a link between certain dog foods and heart disease in canine companions.

Conducted by researchers with Tufts University, the study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, compared the compounds in dog foods the Food and Drug Administration has flagged as being linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy with those from standard dog foods.

Canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle that results in the heart muscle growing larger while its contractions, or heart beats, grow weaker, which can cause heart failure or even death.

Among the compounds examined by the researchers and identified as possible links causing the ailment are compounds found in peas and potatoes. 


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“I see this as a piece of the puzzle,” researcher Lisa Freeman, a professor and veterinary nutritionist for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, told NBC News. “This research helps us narrow down the targets to look at so we can focus on the most likely causes and get to an answer more quickly and prevent other dogs from being affected.”

However, because some traditional dog foods that haven’t been linked to causing DCM also contain these ingredients, the researchers have hypothesized that it may be the levels of the compounds used that is the true root of the problem. For example, foods with higher levels of the compounds found in ingredients, such as peas, were more likely to have a link to CDC.

“Until we know the exact cause, we want to be cautious of all the ingredients the FDA is investigating,” Freeman said. “Peas might be a good clue as to where we can be looking. As one more piece of the puzzle, this doesn’t give us the final answer, unfortunately. But it gives us things to follow up on.”


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Published on Aug 06, 2021