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My golden retriever will soon be 11 years old (June). What happened .....leading up to this diagnoses dilated cardiomyopathy.

Three weeks ago I changed her food. She was eating a grain free chicken Acana food all her life. I changed to honest kitchen grain free chicken recipe three weeks ago. It is dehydrated. During the last two weeks, I noticed she wasn't drinking water and panting more often. i called the company to inquire about sodium amount in food ....found out it was low. I questioned them on my concern of her not drinking water and it seemed she was peeing more. He said it may be due to the 3 cups of water added to the 1 cup of dehydrated food she was getting. This sounded right and I agreed. I did also notice her drop her bum more ....she had a few bowel moments that struggled to come out but over all normal bowel movements. I was adding organic wild blueberries to her food as well.

Yesterday after she ate I noticed she became sick, lethargic and she laid down with no energy to get up. The night before I opened a honeydew melon and my daughter fed her a lot of it. I thought Maybe she had a stomach ache .....

Her belly felt full but she did just eat. I tried talking to her but she wouldn't lift her head. I rubbed her and pet her and talked to her for 30 or so minutes. I then got up did some things in the kitchen while she lay beside me.....I asked her if she felt sick and needed to go to vet ...and she perked up and got up....I got her leash ....took her outside ....she walked passed the vehicle ....so I allowed her to lead me ....thinking she was ok....I got about 8 min from house and she immediately dropped to the ground laying down ....she wasn't moving. I wasn't forcing her either. I was respecting her wishes. She did not want to get up.

I was able to call a friend and got to vet hospital within 20 min. She was not over friendly to my friend which she loves and adores....she just lay there ....I knew she was sick when she didn't want to run and greet her.

At the vet they did a ultra sound (which was super old equipment and not very reliable) ....and X rays. It showed she had an enlarged heart ....I was told normal size is approx 10.5 ....hers is 12. They were also concerned with this black space between her heart and her ribcage. They said something was lifting it up off the ribcage. But they didn't know what. They suggested we go to another top notch best vet clinic in the city with specialists ....more tests etc....I will be honest I would love to, but we can't afford it. Please don't judge, this is difficult for me, I love my Maggie like I love my own three children. I love her more then certain family members.

My concern sending her off was not just the cost, but Maggie had major anxiety .....it would have caused her a great deal of stress. My other concern is ....what will it solve ??? What less will it tell us?

The vet clinic already told me she has dilated cardiomyopathy. This dark spot on the X Ray ....what is it....they didn't know so I asked if they could send the imaging to the clinics specialists and could we just get them to read it ....they said yes...so I paid for this option instead. I am still awaiting the results. Suppose to be given within 24 hours ....sent them yesterday late afternoon ...so it may be supper timeish by time I get the results.

My question is ....the vet is putting Maggie on meds pimobendan(vetmedin) it is to be taken 2 X per day dose of 2.5 mg
Maggie weights 34 kilos
The vet also wants her off grain free diet .....I don't know what to feed her !!!??? Any suggestions please ????

The vet also wants her on taurine 250 mg a day

Is this a good protocol ?

Did I create the problem with changing her food ? Did it create stress on her.....it all seems related to the change ....or is it coincidental ?

Can this med be purchased online from a reputable company .....as it is 200 per month....ouch! I will pay it no issues, but wondered if anyone uses a SAFE online company ? I don't want to risk buying online and giving her something from China that has been poisoned or tampered with etc.

Is she suffering ?

Will she suffer ?

Is this a death sentence ....I read online that some dogs can only survive very little time after such a diagnoses ....is this true ?

I will see if I can post X Ray. X Ray up,I added but I see it is uploaded upside down ....I hope you can still understand it ....

Any help thoughts are appreciated.

Thank you kindly.
 

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Royal Canin has a heart diet food that you might want to look into.

I think it is possible that her DCM could have been caused by her grain free dog food, but given her age that is hard to say. If she does have nutritionally caused DCM, the meds and switching food should help if caught early. She might also have something else going on, and hopefully when you get the radiology results back, you will find some answers.

You would probably benefit from joining this group. There are several vets on the group including Dr. Stern fron UC Davis.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1257656451030324/

We all do the best we can for for our pets, and that is all we can do. I strongly doubt that switching her food caused this.
 

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Royal Canin has a heart diet food that you might want to look into.

I think it is possible that her DCM could have been caused by her grain free dog food, but given her age that is hard to say. If she does have nutritionally caused DCM, the meds and switching food should help if caught early. She might also have something else going on, and hopefully when you get the radiology results back, you will find some answers.

You would probably benefit from joining this group. There are several vets on the group including Dr. Stern fron UC Davis.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1257656451030324/

We all do the best we can for for our pets, and that is all we can do. I strongly doubt that switching her food caused this.
There is so much good information on their Facebook pages. Sad stories, too.
 

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I know someone who was feeding her Golden an Acana grain free pork and squash. Her dog was diagnosed with DCM and had:
Left-Sided congested heart failure.
Moderate mitral valve regurgitation.
Moderately to severely dilated left atrial dimensions.
Severely dilated left ventricular dimensions with severely decreased heart muscle function.
Mild right heart enlargement.

He is around 7 years old and after several months of treatment is recovering. She feels terrible to think she was trying to do the best for him but unknowingly was giving him the wrong food.

Best wishes for a good report for your girl.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you Linda for this info and I will join the group. I also read the link in taurine . ...not all of it as I am just making my way through reading about taurine ...thank you....and about food choices etc....I guess what I've been told about grain free diets is backwards from what I am understanding. I've also been told that corn is high gmo and one of the worse high allergic food to give a dog.....so confusing cause it is in most foods they are recommending. Our golden before Maggie couldn't go near corn due to allergies and was on a lamb and rice formula.

I did get a call from vet and the radiologist said .....her heart is normal. There is no fluid around her heart or in lungs or abdomen. He said her heart is on the larger size but he has seen this Before in large breed goldens. He felt she didn't have DCM. Now I'm confused.

So now I am super confused.
I know since stopping the grain free chicken dehydrated food from honest kitchen (which was a new switch ...she's been eating the last three weeks)...brought on some wierd symptoms.....I stopped this food....her last meal yesterday morning .....today she is more perky ....and drinking water and peeing and pooping...etc.....I am not walking her as per vet request and keeping exercise minimal. Her appetite was great.

The vet wants me to keep her on newer meds....for one week....then stop. See how she does. If she had another episode then she needs meds and has DCM.

I asked her if keeping her on meds was safe if she didn't have DCM.....is it harming her heart....she said no. I asked her if starting and stopping meds is safe.....she said yes......

This doesn't seem right to me. I'm so confused.

Any thoughts ....ugh I guess she is wanting to be on safe side with the meds ....but I read these meds have side effects as well ....so confused.
 

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You may benefit from a visit to a cardiologist. Your vet may not be fully up to speed.

Hang in there. I know how overwhelming it is at first. Lots of good information and support in the links that were provided.


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I should add that my vet referred us to a cardiologist when my dog’s VHS was 10.5. You mentioned that your dog’s VHS is 12. The normal range is up to 10. I would want an echo done at the very least.

In Chicago, I paid between $350-$400 for that. The taurine test was between $250-$300.


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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks so much for your reply, I paid an extra 178 dollars for the X-ray and u/s to be seen by a radiologist specialist, who work hand in hand with the cardiologists. I could afford to see the cardiologist specialist directly so I just had my texts/X Ray u/s and background info sent to them to interpret. Basically he said that he has seen hearts this large in this breed of dog ....and because there is no fluid around the heart, lungs or abdomen he didn't see a dire concern.

The taurine test here in Alberta is 499 dollars. The cardio test is 600 dollars. But two days ago because it was an emergency situation and it would have been done ASAP, it would have been 1200 dollars. But if I book an appointment it will take a month to get in but the cost is half.
It is difficult for me to swing this money .....I am spending what I can on her which was X Ray u/s and emergency exams, each time they kept adding onto her bill....it isn't easy when money is tight ...I am doing the best I can .....this is really tough.
 

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I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. First, I know you feel badly about not being able to afford some aggressive treatments/tests. You can only do the best you can with what you have and no one should judge you.

I have a 7 month old pup, Bear, and found out about grain free foods from my breeder, who was giving her pregnant dog grain free until her vet told her to stop. “FDA Warns of Possible Link Between Grain-Free Dog Foods and Heart Disease. According to an FDA alert, dogs developing dilated cardiomyopathy that are not typically prone to the disease have 1 thing in common—they've been fed diets containing legumes, lentils, and potatoes as the main ingredients.“. My vet told me basically the same thing and so I feed Bear Purina Pro Plan Chicken for puppies, which has probiotics.

I think you should follow your vet’s advice on the meds for a short time. Hopefully, she won’t suffer any bad side effects. I wish you and your girl well. Please keep us updated.
 

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Thanks so much for your reply, I paid an extra 178 dollars for the X-ray and u/s to be seen by a radiologist specialist, who work hand in hand with the cardiologists. I could afford to see the cardiologist specialist directly so I just had my texts/X Ray u/s and background info sent to them to interpret. Basically he said that he has seen hearts this large in this breed of dog ....and because there is no fluid around the heart, lungs or abdomen he didn't see a dire concern.

The taurine test here in Alberta is 499 dollars. The cardio test is 600 dollars. But two days ago because it was an emergency situation and it would have been done ASAP, it would have been 1200 dollars. But if I book an appointment it will take a month to get in but the cost is half.
It is difficult for me to swing this money .....I am spending what I can on her which was X Ray u/s and emergency exams, each time they kept adding onto her bill....it isn't easy when money is tight ...I am doing the best I can .....this is really tough.
It's tough. In an ideal world we wouldn't have to take finances into account. But it's the reality we deal with. I totally understand. Don't be afraid to shop around either. For various things over the years, I've come across big variances for the same procedures.

I'm sorry you're going through this. We started this journey last Fall. My boy had no symptoms. We go back in 2 weeks for a follow up echo and taurine test. Fingers crossed, changing diet will have helped.
 

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I had a similar issue and guess what they found out at the end?? Gas in her intestines & stomach. Yes, we changed food 2 days ago. However, we also just had Stronghold applied. Maybe it was both of them. Or maybe it was only gas. However, I am happy that she is not diagnosed with DCM. Yess, I am also not fan of grain free food ( in case ). And I would also suggest feeding her more in a holistic regimen. It would cost less and definitely more healthy
 

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I’d get her a full echo test from a cardiologist. Without that, I think you’re shooting in the dark and hoping something will work. The test is expensive, but definitive.
 

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A BIG THANK YOU to "Tahnee GR"!!! I don't belong to facebook. The link to the Admins of the facebook group provided me with the information I was looking for - and it didn't require that I join facebook. Thank you so much "Tahnee GR"!!!
 

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Dr Karen Becker, a holistic vet, recommends giving sardines once a week as a preventative bc they are high in taurine. I too have learned that an echocardiogram is the most effective way at diagnosing DCM. The Dr Stern's FB group is a great resource and would be good to join even though you may have gotten info from the admin without joining. There is so much info out there on diet-related DCM. Good luck with your girl.
 

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Thanks so much Debbie ....I was reading in FB group and added sardines to her diet ....omg she loves them!! I was also reading to provide 1 egg once a week and kefir as well.....her tradition to this new food hasn't been easy....poor thing is constipated. I have added pumpkin to her diet as well ....anyway thank you kindly for all the posts
 

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Yes, do join the Taurine Golden DCM FB group, it has 9000+ members. best resource out there And has many many fewer members than the all-breed sister group- a better starting point.

I have to type this w.o your post in front of me, so some of this may be off the mark. (since edited to reflect hour updates)

Here are some issues I think you need to address right away:
-I don't know what to make of your new/better dx. But RC is well respected for its special diets. But if not on that, a traditional diet from one of the Big Four with none of the suspect ingredients in the top 10 e.g., Chicken & rice
-whether stopping med.s is good idea. AND How much taurine to continue to give.
-does dog need taurine test now. Not as useful as info as once was & you just changed diet. Do you know which Arcana you were feeding. Did it have added taurine then? Co.s are addinf it now, a fig leaf meanjngless.
- NOTE, can save money if you have vet draw the blood (needs special tube) and you package & overnight ship it *yourself* w. ice pack to UC Davis Lab. Read instructions in *FB help files.* Vets usally go thru intermediate step, charge more. The taurine test itself is $76
- since the dx does not seem bad now, thank goodness! google health screen clinic cavalier. that site posts all the clinics in US & Can. If there's one nearby soon & has a test you want/need, group rates much better
-be clear on exactly what's been recommended, what's been found, what tests have been done, which questions STILL need to be answered.

You need to have a game plan, be organized. No shortage of half baked opinions out there. Tune them out! When/if you first post, keep your intro info short, ask specific questions. Don't initially commiserate with others, skip the coulda shoulda, don't bother with the group tables & graphs - time for all that later. Acana is one of the worst offenders, you may already know that, but can't change the past.
Read all the relevant help files before posting. The moderators have devoted tons of hrs. to them. But if you get bogged down do ask for help.

It's a science-oriented group. Focus on the evidence. Don't rely on personal stories or anecdotes to make choices. Some join w strong opinions and don't change quickly if at all, they play DIY w. their dog's diet, hate Purina whoever, just know it's bad, corn is bad...:)-().
BTW, on ipad and some other devices, hard to find the group help files (usually ... top right main page) if trouble, go to FB thru your browser or use a real computer, not your device app. Big hug & good luck.
 
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