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What’s this about Grain Free diets causing heart disease in dogs??

As you may have heard, in June 2018 Tufts University released a study which indicated certain types of diets may be increasing dogs’ risk for heart disease. We still have a lot of research to do, but this is what we know right now:

• Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disorder where the heart muscle becomes thin and weak. Then the heart can no longer pump blood efficiently and often results in congestive heart failure and death. Certain breeds like Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers are more genetically predisposed to the problem.

• There has been an increase in rates of DCM in dogs, not only in breeds predisposed to the condition, but also in breeds that do not typically develop DCM.

• Taurine is an essential amino acid that, when deficient, can lead to Dilated Cardiomyopathy. However, most of the dogs reported to the FDA who died from DCM had normal Taurine levels. The current emphasis is to find the exact link between DCM and diet.

• One theory is that the grain free (GF) diets contain something that is either limiting the availability of Taurine to the body, or blocking a pathway involving Taurine and therefore causing the DCM. However, more research is needed.

• There may be a genetic component to the dogs developing DCM while on GF diets, but that has not yet been proven.

So what should I do now?

Avoid grain free diets unless your pet has a medical condition (like a diagnosed food allergy) that requires that particular diet. The same goes for exotic proteins like duck, venison, kangaroo, etc. More research is needed to see how these proteins affect our pets.

Stick with the big name pet food companies (Hill’s, Royal Canin, Purina Proplan.) Supporting the small boutique pet food company may seem like a good thing to do, but unfortunately they do not have the resources the large manufacturers do, and as a result have inferior and inconsistent nutrients and quality control. Large manufacturers have veterinary nutritionists on staff and solid quality control and diet trial protocols to help ensure your pet’s nutrition.

Above all, talk to your veterinarian. If you are unsure about your pet’s nutritional needs or have any questions, give us a call. We will be happy to answer them for you!

We care about you and your pets, and our goal is to provide the best information for you so we can make good decisions together.

~Your friends at Westridge Veterinary Hospital


Summer is finally here, which means endless fun in the sun for you and your pets! While we have more opportunities to take our pets on outdoor summer activities, we need to stay mindful of the dangers hot weather can bring:

  • Keeping paws comfortable and cool:

    Unlike humans, dogs and cats sweat through their paw pads and can easily burn on hot asphalt and overheat your pet. Letting your dog ride in the bed of a truck is unsafe, and the metal can pose a risk of burning your dog’s paws as well.

  • Never, EVER leave your dog in a parked car:

    Many people are already aware of the dangers of leaving your pet in a hot car; your dog can easily develop heatstroke within minutes. Make sure you bring your pet with you if you plan on leaving your car or just don’t bring your pet at all. Also make sure you provide water if you plan on traveling anywhere with your pets.

  • Flea/tick prevention:

    We are seeing more fleas and ticks in Colorado, so we recommend flea and tick prevention in the Spring and Summer months, especially if you travel with your pet.

  • Heartworm prevention:

    Spring time is when most pets are tested for heartworm disease, but heartworm prevention is recommended year-round by the American Heartworm Society. Heartworms are a potentially fatal parasite that is spread to your pet through the bite of an infected mosquito. This disease can damage your pet’s heart, lungs, and other organs which can eventually lead to death.

  • Water and shade:

    Dogs cool themselves down by panting. Cold water and shade are an absolute must if you’re planning on putting your dog outside on hotter days. Providing a shallow kiddie pool in your backyard can help your dog keep cool and have fun during the summer!

  • Backyard BBQ safety:

    BBQs and backyard parties can be an excellent way for you and your pets to socialize! But party goers should be aware that there are certain foods that can be toxic, even life threatening for your dogs including onions, garlic, mushrooms, bones, chocolate and alcohol.