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Dog heart disease linked to food, FDA says

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Dogs fed food based on peas, lentils or potatoes are developing an unusual condition that can cause an enlarged heart, the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.

The condition, called canine dilated cardiomyopathy, is more common in certain breeds, but it’s turning up in breeds that are not usually susceptible, the FDA said.

The agency is not naming brands, but said the affected dogs appear to have been fed certain types of pet foods.

“We are concerned about reports of canine heart disease, known as dilated cardiomyopathy, in dogs that ate certain pet foods containing peas, lentils other legumes or potatoes as their main ingredients,” said the FDA’s Dr. Martine Hartogensis.

“The FDA is investigating the potential link between DCM and these foods. We encourage pet owners and veterinarians to report DCM cases in dogs who are not predisposed to the disease,” Hartogensis said in a statement.

Dogs with the disease develop an enlarged heart, which then struggles to function properly. They can develop congestive heart failure, which can be fatal.

Symptoms include lethargy, weight loss and, sometimes, a cough.

Some breeds of dog have a genetic predisposition, including great Danes, Newfoundlands, boxers, Doberman pinschers and St. Bernards.

“However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included golden and Labrador retrievers, whippets, a Shih Tzu, a bulldog and miniature schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds,” the FDA said.

A dietary deficiency may be one cause, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Heart drugs can be used to treat the symptoms.

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