by Christel in Saco, Maine
This is the story of Emmett, our much-loved Yellow Lab. He was 8 years old when we lost him to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). It was so advanced at the time of diagnosis that he was already in congestive heart failure. We didn’t know at the time that our sweet boy would only be with us for 16 more days.
In February 2019, I took Emmett to my vet because he had just developed a cough. My vet said that based on an x-ray, Emmett’s heart was enlarged. Two days later, the cardiologist confirmed that Emmett had severe dilated cardiomyopathy affecting both the right and left side of his heart, and there was fluid in his lungs.
We couldn’t believe this was happening. Emmett’s cough was the only symptom he had.
Both my vet and the cardiologist suspected grain-free food is what caused DCM. Emmett ate a grain-free diet most of his life. The past two years, he ate Taste of the Wild Prey Trout. After his diagnosis, I changed his food right away and put him on Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach. He was also prescribed several heart medications, including Lasix, Benazepril, and Vetmedin, along with a taurine supplement.
I hoped that after some time on these meds and a new diet, Emmett would be one of the dogs who got better, that his heart would heal. We have another 12-year-old Lab and a 9-year-old Pug, and their diets were changed, too.
After a few days, Emmett’s cough was pretty much gone, but I had trouble getting him to eat, which was not good. I made rice and chicken, and rice and beef for him, and also tried canned food and bone broth. I got an appetite stimulant from my vet, which helped a little. Emmett would perk up during the day, but he got so tried by the afternoon and evening that he didn’t want to eat.
I worked with the cardiologist every day. They tried increasing his meds, but Emmett went downhill fast. We ended up at the emergency clinic one night, where they removed 2.5 liters of fluid from his abdomen. It was so very difficult to make the decision to let Emmett go, but it was the right thing to do so that his sweet heart could rest easy once again.
I miss and love Emmett so much, and my heart breaks every time I read someone else’s story. This issue is very real.