by Megan Leitsinger in Alabama
Mason and Dixon, my Cocker Spaniel rescues, are littermates. Five months ago, in early July 2019, Mason was diagnosed with DCM. When Dixon was tested a few weeks later, the results showed he had left ventricle abnormalities.
Before their diagnoses, the boys had been fed a grain-free diet for nearly six years of their lives. For the last four years, they were fed 4Health grain-free white fish and potato or the weight management formula. They have had allergies that seemed to improve with this food.
We were referred to a board-certified veterinary cardiologist for Mason after our regular vet heard a heart murmur. The cardiologist diagnosed Mason with moderate to severe DCM. Not long after, we learned that Dixon’s left ventricle was larger than it should be for his size, but he was still within a normal range and would be monitored.
We didn’t know if this was related to their grain-free diet or genetics. Cocker Spaniels are one of the breeds with a genetic predisposition to developing DCM. To know, it would take time, medication for Mason, supplements and especially a diet change for both of them.
Mason was immediately started on heart medications, Benazepril and Vetmedin. For both Mason and Dixon, I started feeding prescription Royal Canin select protein wet and dry food, along with daily taurine, L-carnitine and fish oil supplements as recommended by our cardiologist.
At our November 2019 follow-up, our cardiologist said Mason showed no discernible signs of DCM! She ran the data three times to confirm the finding. She couldn’t believe it, saying this may be the fastest reversal of diet-associated DCM she had seen. Additionally, she thought Dixon had either been on his way to developing DCM or we had already reversed it with diet change and supplements. We now knew their heart issues were caused by diet.
Mason and Dixon, 9.5 years old, will be rechecked by our cardiologist in January 2020. In the meantime, Mason is on a reduced dose of Vetmedin, and both dogs continue with the Royal Canin prescription diet and supplements.
I sobbed tears of joy when I learned Mason’s heart had returned to normal, and that we caught this in time for both boys to recover. I am humbled and grateful that we are among the lucky ones. I have been perfectly heartsick, with no idea that what I was doing for their allergies was damaging their hearts. It is so unfair that any dog and owner have to struggle with this preventable disease.