by Samantha Ganey, Elkins Park, Pa.
This is Theo, my beloved Goldendoodle. In March of 2019, when Theo was 7 months old, he went in for an echocardiogram after an abnormal EKG report for his pre-op before neutering. The echo showed weak muscle wall in the left ventricle and an enlarged heart.
The cardiologist did not diagnose dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), but said if it got any worse, it would be. My Theo was in early stage heart disease. The cardiologist also said Theo’s condition was diet-related, not genetic. After weaning, Theo’s breeder had the litter on Nutrisource grain-free food. At the time of Theo’s diagnosis, I had been feeding him grain-free Taste of the Wild food for one month. Before that, Theo ate Nutro dog food (not grain-free).
We did not test Theo’s taurine level because it was early when we caught this. My vet said we could draw blood for that if I wanted to, although shelling out $600 each time we went to see the cardiologist was going to be plenty. He recommended changing Theo’s diet and adding taurine, and if that didn’t work, we would have to move to heart medications. I found and joined the Taurine-Deficient DCM group on Facebook, and I switched Theo’s diet to Purina Pro Plan.
Seven months later, I got the best news
When Theo and I went back to the cardiologist for his follow-up echo on October 12, 2019, we received the AMAZING news that Theo’s heart was almost completely back to normal! The only things we changed after his diagnosis were 500mg of taurine every day and his diet change to Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach.
As I look back, I see a huge silver lining on this dark cloud. I did not want to neuter Theo at 7 months, but his daycare would not take him any longer. If not for that hiccup in my life, I would not have known what was happening to Theo’s heart. Seven months is too young! It was scary that such a short time on the wrong food could lead to this, especially when I thought the food was good for him. There’s no way to deny the risk of diet-related DCM if changing diet improves the condition of the heart. Theo’s case was reported to the FDA.