The study titled “Investigation into Subclinical Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Four Dog Breeds” is progressing on schedule. Enrollment for the first part of the study is at approximately 85%. We are aiming to finish enrollment by late spring/early summer, after which time we will concentrate on data collation and statistical analysis for the first part of the study.
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 followup is critical to this assessment. The number of dogs being followed at this time is approximately 25% of the total enrolled at UF.
The major findings of the AKC CHF funded study entitled “Predicting Disease Stage and Diuretic Responsiveness in Dogs with Acquired Heart Disease” have been published and showed that low blood chloride levels are associated with advanced, refractory congestive heart failure in dogs. The low chloride levels are most likely because of the diuretic medications used to treat heart failure although other causes are possible and were not investigated. We performed additional calculations on the data obtained from the 171 dogs that were enrolled in this study and found that adjusting (i.e. correcting) the blood chloride level by normalizing it for the blood sodium level provides information about the potential reasons that low chloride is present in these dogs with heart failure. Although the correction showed that the low chloride for most dogs was due to the diuretic medications, the adjustment in some dogs suggested that they may have overactivation of a specific hormone that retains water in heart failure. This was found moreso in dogs with refractory heart failure compared to dogs with controlled heart failure. We plan to investigate this in future studies by correlating this correction factor to levels of this hormone in the blood. This may lead to medications to specifically block this hormone and help treat dogs with advanced, refractory congestive heart failure.