by Bridgett Mitchell, DVM
Meet Scarlett, a 5-year-old Shih Tzu who presented at my clinic in March 2018 in complete heart failure. There are many stories of dogs succumbing to diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). On behalf of Scarlett’s owner, I want to share that there is hope!
Scarlett had eaten Earthborn Holistic dog food her entire life. In November 2017, four months prior to her DCM diagnosis, Scarlett was seen for her yearly exam. A cardiac arrhythmia was auscultated at that time and an EKG was submitted for evaluation. Scarlett’s EKG came back normal. This dog was clinically normal at that time. When Scarlett presented the following March, she had developed a Grade IV (on a scale of I to VI) systolic heart murmur and was in respiratory distress. While not every case of DCM is associated with a murmur, in Scarlett’s case, it was.
Scarlett was placed on Lasix to prevent fluid accumulation in her body, along with two medications to stabilize her heart, Vetmedin and Enalapril, and taurine supplementation. Diet change was critical, and Scarlett’s owner switched to Royal Canin Shih Tzu formula.
Fast forward to October 2019
In the above picture of Scarlett with my technician Kim, Scarlett is happy and doing well. Her June 2019 follow-up echo showed her heart parameters are almost normal, and her murmur has improved. She is off of Lasix and still taking Vetmedin, Enalapril and taurine supplements. Miss Scarlett is part of the FDA’s investigation into the link between diet and canine DCM. Her case is also being followed by Darcy Adin, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology), clinical associate professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Adin has been involved in ongoing research into this disease.
Scarlett’s owner is very grateful that we caught this in time and helped turn it around. We both wanted to share this story of encouragement for others with affected dogs.