by Tera Weidendorf in Minnesota
This is my girl Cheyenne. She is 3/4 Newfoundland and 1/4 Labrador. I brought her home when she was 3 months old. Our story of diet-associated heart disease unfolded when she was 5 years old.
Cheyenne ate only grain-free food. I was determined to find one that would eliminate her itching, and over the years we moved from Taste of the Wild to Zignature and then Earthborn Holistic Venture. Then the FDA came out with a warning about grain-free foods. At the time, Cheyenne needed a small skin growth removed, so while we were at the vet, I asked for a proBNP blood test. The results came back high (not good). We also did a blood draw for taurine testing, which came back good at 307. I was not content to stop there. I needed to know what was going on with Cheyenne’s heart and requested an echocardiogram, the only conclusive way to diagnose or rule out DCM.
In December 2018, Cheyenne had her first appointment with a University of Minnesota veterinary cardiologist. Echo results showed her heart was enlarged and pumping too slowly. My Cheyenne was in early stage heart disease. The cardiologist said to begin supplementing her food with taurine and I also changed her diet to Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach.
Three months later, in March 2019, we went back for Cheyenne’s follow-up echo. Her heart pumping had improved. With this result, the cardiologist believed her issue was diet-related and that in six months we may see a normal heart. He was right. In October 2019, when we went back for Cheyenne’s third echo, her heart was back to normal function and size. A full reversal! The cardiologist said we could stop taurine supplements and that he didn’t need to see Cheyenne again.
Cheyenne has way more energy now, which I attribute both to her healed heart and a good diet. The bonus is that in Pro Plan, we finally found a diet that eliminated her itching.
I’m beyond grateful that I chose to be proactive and catch this early, and that I found this Facebook group where I have learned so much. I am also angry and sad that I fell for marketing, and that this happened because of the food I was feeding my dog. My girl is living proof that the wrong diet can lead to heart disease – and that a balanced diet can reverse it.