The study titled “Investigation into Subclinical Diet- associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Four Dog Breeds” is progressing on schedule and nearing completion. Enrollment for the first part of the study is complete and a peer-reviewed manuscript describing the results has been published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (DOI: 10.1111/jvim.16075). The results of this part of the study showed higher levels for cardiac troponin I in dogs eating grain-free dog foods or foods that have peas, lentils or potatoes in the top 10 ingredients. Cardiac troponin I is a blood marker that indicates injury to the heart muscle. Even mild elevations can be important but future studies will be needed to determine with certainty that this is the case in these dogs. We did not find echocardiographic (heart ultrasound) differences between dogs eating grain-free and grain-inclusive foods. If the low-level elevation of cardiac troponin I truly indicates low-level heart muscle injury then it may be too early in these healthy dogs to manifest as echocardiographic differences.
We are also following dogs enrolled at UF that have bloodwork or echocardiographic abnormalities for a year after a diet change is enacted, to determine if any of the abnormalities will improve with nutritional intervention. We do not know if any or all of these abnormalities in these dogs are related to food and so the role of follow-up is critical to this assessment. The number of dogs being followed at this time is 17. We anticipate that this follow-up data will result in a 2nd publication. Data collection will be complete by the summer and we will then plan to analyze the data.
We will be submitting blood samples to determine if metabolic pathways in the body are different in dogs eating grain-free diets compared to dogs eating grain inclusive diets and to determine if this will change after dogs eating grain-free diets are transitioned to grain-inclusive diets. This will help us understand the changes that could be occurring in the body of dogs eating different diet types. This analysis is planned for summer 2021 and we expect this to also result in a publication.