A year ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration publicly raised concern to the public about the increasing caseload of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. In July of 2018, the FDA’s press release stated a “potential connection between diet and cases of canine heart disease” in reference to grain-free diets from high quality “boutique” food brands. In July of 2019, the FDA released 16 pet food brands and the number of DCM cases they suspect are associated with each brand, raising concerns from pet owners who feed their dogs that food on how to proceed. Although the FDA has stated that “it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM” and that “the underlying cause of DCM is not truly known”, many confused customers are unsure about the information that has been coming to the public’s attention. Here are some facts and tips about how to make good choices for your dog.
The Muttropolis Blog
Mutt’s Happening: The DCM Scare
What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?
Dilated Cardiomypathy (DCM) is the degeneration of the heart muscle, leading to weakened contractions and pumping ability. The heart muscle becomes enlarged from the pressure of the blood, which causes the thin muscle to spread, further straining the heart. The basis for this disease was thought to be genetic, as certain breeds were more predisposed than others. Most of the predisposed breeds, including Great Danes, Portuguese Water Dogs, Boxers, and Dobermans, are relatively bigger dogs, but the occurrence of the disease in smaller dogs like Shih Tzus suggests that there may be multiple factors.
What is taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid that is synthesized from two other amino acids: cysteine and methionine. These amino acids can be found in animal based proteins such as beef, chicken, turkey and fish, but not grain. Dogs, unlike cats, are able to produce their own taurine from cysteine and methionine, but they need enough of that protein for synthesis to occur. The dog foods that have come under fire have used legumes (chickpeas, peas, beans) as a substitute for grain. The lack of grain in diets does not cause DCM because grain is not a source of cysteine or methionine (therefore not a source of taurine). The studies have been largely inconclusive because some dogs with normal taurine levels have DCM, whereas some dogs have low taurine levels and no DCM. However, there is a theory that the legumes used as a grain substitute might interfere with the synthesis of taurine. Foods with healthy levels of taurine inclue meat, eggs and seafood (taurine is not found in any plant based proteins).
Important Things to Remember
- A high number of grain free diets have been involved, but DCM is caused by many variables that cannot be explicitly connected to the diet
- The legumes in food are accepted as safe and healthy because they do not form the majority of the diet
- The sample size of the dogs involved in the study is a very small portion of the dogs eating the food, and there are many other factors (breed, pre-existing conditions, exercise) that are unable to be measured
- The three most common proteins being fed across all cases are chicken, lamb, and salmon, which are not classified as “exotic proteins” often incorrectly associated with fancy, grain-free diets
- Grain-free food had similar levels of protein, fat, fiber, starch, cysteine, methionine and taurine as the grain-containing food, according to the FDA’s July 2018 study
What Can Pet Owners Do?
As a dog owner, the best thing you can do is make informed decisions about the health of your dog, because each dog is an individual. Although the FDA has published data, they, along with other renowned scientists and veterinarians, have accepted that the cause of DCM is still inconclusive and the results are incomplete.
- Vary your dog’s diet. There is such thing as too much of something, no matter how nutritious it is. Rotating and varying food is an important way to combat excesses and keep your dog healthy. This avoids gastrointestinal sensitivity and keeps your dog food fresh (so your dog can be eating new food, and so you can avoid overbuying). It is important to understand that your pet might react better to some ingredients than others, so there may be a process to understanding the right diet rotation.
- Choose good ingredients. It is impossible to draw conclusions about which ingredients are healthy and which aren’t, but many veterinary experts have agreed that many foods are good in moderation. Food should have a lot of animal-based protein to supply your pet with the proper sulfur-containing amino acids (cysteine and methionine) so they can synthesize their own taurine to maintain a healthy heart. Making sure that these proteins constitute the majority of the food is important, because filler ingredients that often are not fresh or healthy can be detrimental.
Finally, some symptoms of DCM in dogs are an elevated heart rate, coughing, fainting, lethargy, loss of appetite, and pale gums. If you think your dog is suffering, don’t hesitate to take them to the vet. Because the information on DCM and its causes are still not known fully, don’t make any rash or large changes to your pet’s diet if they are thriving already!
- Christine Castellani
Paws for a Cause
According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million companion animals enter US animal shelters nationwide every year – 3.3 million of those are dogs, while 3.2 million are cats. We were shocked when we saw those numbers and wanted to do something to help our local rescue community in addition to our weekend adoption events. This is how Paws for a Cause was formed.
Paws for a Cause gives both local patrons and online shoppers an opportunity to donate to help improve shelters. People have the ability to purchase $1 and $5 “PAWS” donations at our La Jolla and Solana beach stores, with 100% of the “PAWS” proceeds going to the rescue that is chosen for the month. In addition to the “PAWS,” we’ll be donating $1 from every reusable “Harry Bag” sold to the same rescue.
We’ll be switching the rescue groups every month, with July and August donations being given to a local San Diego rescue, Bunny’s Buddies. Bunny’s Buddies is dedicated to saving dogs from Chinese meat markets, slaughterhouses and shelters. In addition to rescuing these dogs, Bunny’s Buddies quarantines the dogs until they are ready to come to the United States (usually for 2 months). Once they are ready, a flight volunteer travels with the dogs from China to the United States, where these dogs find their forever homes.
By contributing to Bunny’s Buddies, you’re helping this organization have the ability to bring a loving, happy life to these dogs that they would never get in China.
To learn more about the Paws for a Cause program, or to nominate a rescue or shelter group, please contact the Marketing Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Christine Castellani
Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe on 4th of July
4th of July is right around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the USA by hanging in the backyard BBQ-ing and watching fireworks! Although we humans love the 4th of July, pets don’t necessarily feel the same way. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of your 4th of July celebration while keeping your pet safe!
Make Sure Your Pet Has Proper Identification. It’s important for your pet to have an ID tag on their collar at all times, but it’s especially important that they wear their ID tag on the 4th of July. Animal shelters around the US prepare for an influx of dogs every 4th of July because of dogs running away after fireworks go off. Keeping an ID tag on your dog’s collar can prevent your dog from getting lost.
Keep Human Food and Alcohol Away From Your Pet. It can be tempting to give your dog a scrap or two of our leftovers, but it’s truly important that you don’t give your dog a taste of any human food or drink during your holiday BBQ. Any change from your dog’s normal diet can result in diarrhea (not a fun thing to deal with). Certain human foods can be toxic to dogs, including (but not limited to) onions, avocado, coffee, chocolate, grapes, salt and yeast dough and alcohol can cause dogs to become intoxicated, weak and possibly go into a coma. If you want to give them something special during your get-together, get them some yummy dog treats!
Don’t Apply Any Sunscreen or Insect Repellent That Isn’t Labeled for Pet Use. If your dog licks sunscreen or repellent that isn’t for pets, they could become very sick. If insect repellent contains DEET, there’s a chance your pet could have neurological problems if ingested.
Keep Dogs Away From Fireworks at All Cost. Fireworks may be fun for humans to enjoy, but the booming sounds of fireworks can frighten your pet. If you decide to attend a fireworks show, leave your pet at home. If you have a fireworks show at your house, keep your pet inside and away from both lit and unlit fireworks, as they contain potentially toxic substances.
We hope these tips are helpful for you and your four-legged BFF. Happy 4th of July!
4th of July Essentials
- Christine Castellani
Tips for Bringing Your Dog to Work | Muttropolis
Take Your Dog to Work Day takes place the Friday after Father's Day - are you prepared?
Many studies have proven that having a dog reduces stress levels and makes people generally happier (we didn't need a study to know this, obviously!). Because we at Muttropolis are able to bring our dogs to work every day, we have experienced everything that comes with bringing your four-legged BFF to your office. We're here to share a few tips to get both you and your dog prepared for their big office reveal.
Take Your Dog to Work Day Necessities
Preparing for the Big Day
After you've decided that you'll bring your dog to work, the first action of business is letting your co-workers know of your upcoming plans. It's important to let your co-workers know in case someone is allergic to animals or if someone is uncomfortable with the idea of having pets in the office.
Once your plans are confirmed, make sure to check out your office area and clear it of anything that could be hazardous to your dog(electrical cords, poisonous plants, cleaners). You'll also want to ensure that there is a green area nearby for your dog to use the restroom (no need for an accident on the carpet!).
The night before the big day, prepare a bag for your pup - include items that your dog loves, like their favorite treats, a toy that they can cuddle up with, a bed from home that gives them a sense of comfort and familiarity. Don't forget to bring poop bags, too!
Get your dog spiffed up for the big day by giving them a bath (your dog has to be fresh and clean for all the cuddles and pets they'll be getting from your co-workers!).
The Day Has Come!
Alas, the best day of the year has arrived, and you now get to bring your dog to work with you! Before heading to the office, feed them breakfast, attach their collar (with a tag) and leash, and be on your merry way.
When at the office, keep an eye on Bowser - they're going to want to sniff every nook and cranny of your office! Once they've settled down, allow your dog to snuggle up in their bed next to your desk and relax.
- Christine Castellani