Dog killings on the rise

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Dog killings


In February, a video surfaced showing two men brutally beating and stabbing a dog named Benjie to death in Cape Town. Since then, more instances of horrific animal abuse have surfaced, with the Cape Of Goodhope SPCA (CoGH SPCA) noting at least two more stabbings and three instances of dogs being shot in August alone.

An example of this is Savage, a heroic dog who leapt to her owner’s defense during a violent drive-by shooting. Her owner died as a result of the shooting, and her loyalty left her with a bullet in her hindquarters.

“Thankfully we could treat Savage who is now recovering at home,” says Tara McGovern, CoGH SPCA spokesperson. “Since the horrific and brutal stabbing of Benjie there can be no question that violent crimes against animals are on the rise.”

“On August 1, 2019, Adi the dog was fatally injured during an allegedly unprovoked attack on her and her owner’s brother. She sustained multiple stab wounds across her body as the assailants chased after her, knocked her down with their vehicle and then pulled her into their car to continue the stabbing,” she adds. “The last moments of Adi’s life saw her reacting in happiness when her owner arrived on the scene. Although she couldn’t breathe properly and was no doubt in extreme pain, she still wagged her tail at the sight of her owner and the sound of her voice.”

On the August 7, 2019, the CoGH SPCA received word that a dog and owner had been shot in Belhar. The post mortem revealed that the dog died due to severe hypovolemic shock as a result of the high velocity sharp force trauma caused by the gunshot wound to the dog’s thorax. No bullet was found as there was an exit wound.

Mere days ago, Dutches, a young male German Shepard, was admitted to the CoGH SPCA’s Animal Hospital after allegedly being shot by a uniformed army official who was assisting police with the execution of a search warrant in Rocklands. Dutches’ owner said that he clearly heard his lodger state that the dog was friendly, only to hear a shot fired thereafter. Dutches will be returned to his home once he has recovered from his ordeal.

“On August 27, we admitted Judas – an adult male Pitbull – into our animal hospital after he had allegedly been stabbed at least 6 times. His owner has no idea why someone did this to his pet but is thankful that our Mobile Clinic was able to bring Judas into facility where he will get the treatment he needs,” McGovern says.

Post mortem / Vet reports will be submitted to the relevant branches of the South African Police Services to be added to existing dockets, where applicable, and the CoGH SPCA will either be laying charges in respect of contraventions of the Animals Protection Act No. 71 of 1962 directly or will be providing guidance to SAPS in terms of the same.

“Society, it seems is in serious trouble,” she adds. “There is nothing that can justify violent attacks on animals. Please rally with us as we fight, not only to put an end to animal cruelty but also to restore the very moral fabric of society. Animal cruelty and human violence are inextricably linked – you can’t have one without the other.”


SAPS rescue lion cub in Athlone

SAPS rescue lion

Detectives attached to Organised Crime Investigations followed up on information on Wednesday about a lion cub. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town – Detectives attached to Organised Crime Investigations followed up on information on Wednesday about a lion cub that was transported from Tabazimbi in Limpopo to the Western Cape. 

South African Police Services (SAPS) spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana revealed that various addresses were searched in the Athlone area, until eventually the lion cub was found. 

“A case docket of possession of endangered species was registered by Stock Theft Unit and the lion cub was taken to a place of safety. 

“The estimated street value of the lion cub is R50 000. Three people aged between 28 and 30 years-old were taken in for questioning,” Rwexana said. 

The investigation is on-going.

IOL recently ran a story where animal welfare group FOUR PAWS revealed that lion cubs are sometimes bred on demand to feed petting establishments with a continuous stream of lion cubs.

Most of the facilities that offer cub petting activities claim that their cubs were orphaned, abandoned or even rejected by their mother and that the facility has rescued them.

“This is not true: These cubs are bred on demand in captivity to feed these petting establishments with a continuous stream of lion cubs,” explains director, Fiona Miles.

There are around 300 farms on which lions are bred and kept for commercial purposes in South Africa. While there are about 3,000 wild lions living in national parks and reserves in South Africa, there are between 8,000 and 10,000 lions living in captivity.

Source: IOL

Pet ban of rare lizard after Instagram craze goes into overdrive

Pet ban

The Union Island gecko – prized for its jewel-like markings – is often seen on websites such as Instagram, where users post photographs for “likes”. Picture: Instagram

London – A rare reptile has been banned from sale over fears that its dazzling appearance is fuelling the smuggling trade – because owners buy them to become popular on social media.

The Union Island gecko – prized for its jewel-like markings – is often seen on websites such as Instagram, where users post photographs for “likes”.

But it can only be found on its namesake island in the Caribbean and it is thought there are just 9 960 left, as the illegal pet trade causes numbers to continue to decline.

World leaders have now voted for the species to be protected, so it cannot be commercially traded.

A fully grown Union Island gecko measures just over an inch long and weighs less than a pinch of salt.

Other species, such as the tokay and tiger geckos, are also threatened with extinction and have been given similar protection. The tokay was once common in India, southern China and south-east Asia, but the population has declined by up to 50% due to the pet trade and habitat loss.

Sri Lanka’s hump-snout lizard was also listed for protection.

China is also a popular destination because the lizards are used in traditional medicine.

Sumanth Bindumadhav, of the Humane Society International, said: “Tiger gecko species and the tokay are both extremely popular in the pet trade owing to their beautiful pattern.

“Unregulated collection of specimens from the wild is one of the major threats to their population.”

Daily Mail

Source: IOL

Huge sighs of relief as restrictions in the trade of live elephant was passed

live elephant

Huge sighs of relief as restrictions in the trade of live elephant was passed by 2/3 majority at CITES CoP18

Following on our post last week, the NSPCA is both relieved and delighted at the 2/3 majority vote just passed at CITES Plenary restricting the trade in live elephant. This does not completely ban the trade, but it stops the export of live African elephant outside range states unless under exceptional circumstances or for conservation purposes.

This is a huge win for elephant welfare and conservation.

The vote of last week was challenged with Zimbabwe declaring a dispute. After heated debate and a very tense nail biting Plenary session, a 2/3 majority was obtained. This will stop the capture of calves from the wild in Zimbabwe for export to China.

CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, is a trade regulatory organisation with 183 member countries and increasingly criticised for not taking welfare or conservation into account.

The NSPCA notes, with concern and disappointment, the stance of South Africa who opposed the vote and thus are supporting this cruel practice. The NSPCA secured a cruelty conviction following the capture and brutal training of the Tuli Elephant, have other captive elephant cruelty cases pending, and oppose the keeping of the three elephant at Johannesburg Zoo.

The NSPCA do not believe that the basic Five Freedoms can be provided to elephant in captivity.

Source: NSPCA

Paintball Toxicosis in Dogs – Not All Fun & Games

Paintball Toxicosis – What is it?

Paintballs are hollow spheres filled with paint. Paintball ingredients may include polyethylene glycol, gelatin, sorbitol, glycerin, mineral oil, dye, water, ground pig skin, and dipropylene glycol. Many of these components are osmotically active substances. This means they attract water to them. Inside a paintball, this property is useless. However, inside the body of a dog, it can be lethal. Unfortunately, our canine companions seem to like the taste of paintballs, and in some cases, they have ingested up to 500 paintballs at once.

When dogs ingest paintballs, paint is released into the gastrointestinal tract. The osmotically active substances (i.e.: polyethylene glycol, glycerin, sorbitol) attract large volumes of water from the bloodstream in the gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, water moves out of brain cells, causing a rapid decrease in brain volume. Thus, the stomach and intestines fill with water. Important electrolytes in the bloodstream – particularly sodium – dramatically increase due to the loss of water. Brain cells shrink and tear small blood vessels in the process.

Paintball Toxicosis – What does it look like?

The clinical signs associated with paintball ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Unsteadiness while walking (called ataxia)
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Weakness & depression
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increased thirst
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Visual impairment
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal behavior

Clinical signs may develop within one hour, and the severity of signs appears to be associated with the rapidity of onset, duration, and severity of sodium elevation.

Paintball Toxicosis – How it is diagnosed?

Diagnosis is relatively straightforward and is based on suspected or confirmed ingestion of paintballs. For example, paint may be noted around or in the mouth, as well as on skin. A veterinarian will recommend evaluating some blood and urine tests to check for electrolyte disorders like high sodium, high chloride, and low potassium, as well as abnormalities in acid-base status.


Blood & urine values should be evaluated in dogs with paintball toxicosis

Paintball Toxicosis – How is it treated?

If patients are presented to the veterinarian within one hour of paintball ingestion, a veterinarian will recommend inducing vomiting as long as there are no neurologic contraindications to doing so. Patients with seizure activity will receive an anti-convulsant medication to help stabilize them. Patients need appropriate fluid therapy to correct sodium derangements, and potassium supplementation should be provided in those with low potassium levels. Anti-nausea medications help to control vomiting. With appropriate and timely care, clinical signs usually resolve within 24 hours. Untreated, intoxicated patients can succumb to paintball ingestion.  

The take-away message about paintball toxicosis in dogs…

Dogs like to chew on paintballs. In doing so, they are at risk for toxic complications like severe sodium derangements. Timely identification and appropriate therapy is generally associated with a positive outcome within 24 hours.

To find a board-certified veterinary emergency and critical care specialist, please visit the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.

To consult with veterinary toxicology experts, please visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Wishing you wet-nosed kisses,


Critical care DVM

Take Your Cat to the Vet Day: 5 things to make visits to the vet more stress-free

Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

There are approximately 2.4 million cats in South Africa. Picture: Pixabay

It’s well-known that cats rule the internet and their owners’ hearts, In fact, there are approximately 2.4 million cats in South Africa. 

However, even with so many loving homes, many of these cats aren’t receiving the medical attention they need. The reason is quite simple – cats don’t show pain in an easily observable manner which is why owners need to be far more vigilant of their cat’s health and wellbeing.

In order to improve the healthcare of cats in South Africa, Royal Canin is once again leading the charge for this year’s Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on August 22, 2019. 

The Take Your Cat to the Vet Day aims to improve the healthcare of cats across the country by encouraging owners to schedule regular veterinary checkups for their feline companions.

“Cats are far more subtle than dogs in showing discomfort, illness or pain,” explained Dr Michelle Harman, Royal Canin SA veterinarian and technical manager. 

“They may retreat to a corner, hide or merely not display much movement if they have joint pain, mobility issues or are simply unwell. They rely on us. And we need to make their health a priority.”

Cat owners avoid scheduling veterinary visits for many reasons, whether it be difficulty getting their cat to the vet or the belief that indoor cats aren’t as susceptible to illness or disease, she said.

There are five things cat owners can do to make visits to the veterinarian more stress-free. See below for a few tips from Dr Michelle Harman:

Understand your cat’s behavior

The veterinarian’s office is unfamiliar and has sights, sounds and smells that can cause your cat to feel anxious or fearful. Cover their pet carrier with a towel to help block the sight of other animals and dampen the unfamiliar sounds. Respect your cat’s need for time to acclimate to the new environment.

Help your cat become comfortable with the carrier

Place the carrier in a room at home where your cat spends most of their time and equip it with familiar soft bedding as well as special toys.

Get the best carrier for your cat

Secure, stable, hard-sided carriers that open from the top and the front, and can also be taken apart in the middle, are best for your cat.

Take your cat to a cat-friendly practice

These veterinary practices have made specific changes to decrease the stress and provide a more calming environment for you and your cat.

Keep peace in a multi-cat household

Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your cats react to unfamiliar smells, and separate if there are signs of tension.

Source: IOL

The Amazon rainforest is on fire: Cause, scope, and how you can help


The Amazon

The rainforest is burning at an alarming rate, NASA says.
Brazil Photos/Getty Images

Officials say the Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate. Earlier this month, Brazil declared a state of emergency over the rising number of fires in the region. So far this year, almost 73,000 fires have been detected by Brazil’s space research center, INPE. That marks an 83% increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since 2013, Reuters reported. 

What caused the fire?

While the Amazon rainforest is typically wet and humid, July and August — the onset of the dry season — are the area’s driest months, with “activity” peaking by early September and stopping by mid-November, according to NASA. The fires are largely linked to people clearing out the land for farming or ranching.

What areas are affected?

Satellite images show fires in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Rondonia, Para and Mato Grosso. The state of Amazonas is most affected, according to Euronews. 

Effects of damage to the Amazon go far beyond Brazil and its neighbors. The area’s rainforest generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and 10% of the world’s known biodiversity. The Amazon is referred to as “the lungs of the planet” and plays a major role in regulating the climate. The world would drastically change if the rainforest were to disappear, impacting everything from farming to the water we drink.

How big is the fire?

You can see the smoke from space. The European Union Earth Observation Program’s Sentinel satellites captured images of “significant amounts of smoke” over Amazonas, Rondonia and other areas. 

The skies darkened over San Paulo, Brazil, for an hour Monday afternoon after winds carried smoke from about 1,700 miles away. 

The Amazon

An aerial view of the Amazon rainforest burning.
Brazil Photos/Getty Images

How has the public responded?

Social media started the hashtags #Prayfor Amazonas and #AmazonRainforest. Twitter users criticized media for giving more attention to the fire at Notre Dame and other news than to the rainforest fires. Social media users also called out billionaires for lack of donations. 

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has also faced criticism. People are charging him with lack of action and with encouraging logging and farming in the Amazon. In early July, an anonymous senior Brazilian official told the BBC Bolsonaro encouraged deforestation

NASA has been monitoring the fires. Over the past week, the Aqua satellite and Sentinel 3 have been tweeting images of the smoke on social media.

How can I help?

It’s unlikely you’re one of the people who can actually help douse the blaze, but there are other ways you can aid in protecting the rainforest.

  • Donate to Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.
  • Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres and counting. 
  • Reduce your paper and wood consumption. Double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you’re buying is rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest safe products from the alliance’s site. 
  • The World Wide Fund for Nature works to protect the countless species in the Amazon and around the world. 
  • is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.  
  • Explore petitions. A lawyer in Rio Branco has accumulated over 77,000 of his 150,000 signature goal to mobilize an investigation into the Amazonian fires
  • Donate to Amazon Watch, an organization that protects the rainforest, defends indigenous rights and works to address climate change. 
  • Donate to the Amazon Conservation Team, which works to fight climate change, protect the Amazon and empower indigenous peoples. 
  • Amazon Conservation accepts donations (which can be tax deductible) and lists exactly what your money goes toward. You can help plant trees, sponsor education, protect habitats, buy a solar panel, preserve indigenous lands and more. 
  • Contact your elected officials and make your voice heard


Zoos Face Ban On Importing African Elephants Captured From The Wild

By: Rachel Baxter

Zoos Face Ban

Baby Elephants are targeted for capture, an event that can leave them traumatized. Four Oaks/Shutterstock

The 18th meeting of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, is currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives from over 180 countries have come together to attempt to tackle the extinction crisis by re-assessing regulations on wildlife trade.

In a “historic win” for conservationists, the results of the convention’s first vote are in, with a majority voting to end the capture and sale of wild African elephants for use in zoos. The vote is preliminary and still needs to be approved by the full conference over the next few days, but with 46 countries in favor, 18 against, and 19 abstaining, the results look promising.

“It’s a huge step forward,” Iris Ho, a senior policy specialist at Humane Society International (HSI), told Bloomberg. “It’s really historic that the majority of the parties present recognized that African elephants should not be captured in the wild, sent to zoos and be kept in captivity for the rest of their lives.”

Where African elephants are in short supply, such as the western, central, and eastern parts of the continent, trade in the creatures has long been banned. However, southern Africa boasts healthier, denser elephant populations, with Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa being home to almost half of the world’s African elephants. The new ban would affect Botswana and Zimbabwe, which have the most elephants, only allowing the movement of elephants to conservation areas in their natural habitat.

Much of the demand for the animals comes from China, and Zimbabwe has sold over 100 wild-caught baby elephants to Chinese zoos in the last seven years. Elephants are incredibly intelligent, highly social creatures, so champions of animal welfare have slated the removal of vulnerable calves from their natural surroundings and sentencing them to a life in captivity as cruel.

“Calves suffer psychological and physical harm when taken from their mothers,” elephant biologist Audrey Delsink, director of wildlife for HSI Africa, said in a statement. “Zoos and other captive facilities force these calves to live in an unnatural, unhealthy environment that does not meet their complex needs.”

The trade in elephants (and their ivory) is a complex topic of debate, with African nations often defending their right to manage their own wildlife without intervention from other countries. Various nations in southern Africa are keen to relax the ban on ivory sales so that they can shift their highly valuable stockpiles, but black market demands for ivory in Asia are driving elephant poaching. The current CITES meeting will discuss potentially listing mammoths as a threatened species. Many traffickers pass off the tusks of a freshly poached elephant as mammoth ivory, so there is a need to better regulate the mammoth ivory trade.  

The vote to end the capture and sale of live elephants to foreign zoos is a step forward for both conservation and animal welfare. The ban will need to be officially approved through a plenary vote, so time will tell if it is actually put into action.

With over a million species at risk thanks to human activity, this may well be the most crucial year for CITES yet. The committee will assess creatures plummeting towards extinction due to overharvesting, such as sharks, and evaluate a total of 56 proposed changes to how species – from lizards to giraffes – are protected.

“Nature’s dangerous decline is unprecedented,” CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero told the conference, warning that “business as usual is no longer an option.”

Source: IFL Science

Triaditis in Cats – A Common Syndrome in Our Feline Friends


Triaditis – What is it?

Triaditis is a syndrome of concurrent pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct system). Pancreatitis may be acute or chronic with the latter being more common in cats. In some studies, Siamese cats have been over-represented for pancreatitis. There are three recognized forms of cholangitis – neutrophilic, lymphocytic, and fluke-associated. A biopsy is required to differentiate these forms. Cats with acute neutrophilic cholangitis tend to be younger than those with chronic cholangitis. To read more about IBD, click here.

This syndrome is relatively common, but we veterinarians don’t know exactly what causes it. Research has suggested some logical possibilities:

  • Ascending bacterial infection from the duodenum (1st part of the small intestine in to the pancreas and liver
  • Translocation of bacteria and various antigens from an inflamed intestinal tract into the liver and pancreas to induce more inflammation and antibody production
  • Special immune cells called memory lymphocytes that form due to inflammatory bowel disease may migrate to the liver and pancreas where they are activated to cause inflammation and tissue damage

Illustration of the relationship between the liver, pancreas, and small intestine in a cat. Image courtesy of veterinary technical specialist Sarah Collins.


Triaditis – What does it look like?

There is no known age, sex, or breed predisposition for triaditis. Interestingly despite having inflammation in three separate organs (i.e.: liver, pancreas, and small intestines), many cats have subclinical disease. When clinical signs are present, there are chiefly referable to the liver. Common clinical signs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Reduced (or loss of) appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Icterus (aka jaundice or yellowing of skin and sclera, the “whites” of the eyes)

Icterus/jaundice of the pinna or ear flap of a cat. Image courtesy of board-certified internal medicine specialist, Dr. Craig Webb.


Triaditis – How is it diagnosed?

Initially, your family veterinarian will obtain a complete patient history and perform a thorough physical examination. A variety of testing is indicated, including:

  • Complete blood count – to assess red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
  • Biochemical profile – to help assess liver and kidney function and measure electrolytes
  • Urinalysis – to help assess kidney function
  • Gastrointestinal profile – to help assess pancreatic function and various B vitamins, most notably cobalamin (B12) and folate (B9)
  • Fecal testing – to rule out endoparasitism (intestinal“worms”) as a cause of clinical signs
  • Abdominal imaging – radiographs (x-rays) and sonography are often recommended to help assess size and architecture of abdominal organs, particularly the liver, pancreas, and small intestine
  • Infectious disease testing – screening for feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, toxoplasmosis, feline infectious peritonitis is very important

Ultimately biopsies and culture of the liver, small intestine, and the pancreas are needed for a definitive diagnosis. Pet parents may find it helpful to partner with a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist to develop a cost-effective and logical diagnostic plan.

Triaditis – How is it treated?

Treatment for triaditis is consistent with treatment for pancreatitis, IBD, and cholangitis. Major interventions may include:

  • Dietary modification – transitioning a patient to a hypoallergenic or novel protein diet may be helpful
  • Anti-emetic therapy – controlling nausea is of paramount important
  • Nutritional support – providing appetite stimulants and/or placing temporary supplemental feeding tubes may be instrumental in helping patients fight this clinical syndrome
  • Immunomodulatory therapy – administration of drugs that help reduce inflammation in the liver, pancreas, and small intestine is often pivotal in the therapy of triaditis
  • Vitamin supplementation – provision of vitamin B12, vitamin B9, vitamin K1, and/or vitamin E may be very helpful
  • Antioxidant therapy – giving cats certain antioxidants like s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and vitamin E is of paramount importance
  • Antimicrobial therapy – patients with bacterial infections benefit from appropriate antibiotic therapy
  • Biliary support – a medication called ursodeoxycholic acid reduces toxic components in bile and allows bile to flow more efficiently
  • Pain medication – many patients with triaditis have abdominal discomfort and thus benefit from analgesia

Prognosis for triaditis is quite variable. Those with acute pancreatitis and/or neutrophilic cholangitis tend to have poorer prognoses. However, many cats respond successfully to therapies and go on to lead high quality lengthy lives. Families may find collaborating with a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist uniquely helpful for developing an effective treatment plan.

The take-away message about triaditis in cats…

Triaditis – concurrent inflammation of the pancreas, liver, and small intestine – is a relatively common syndrome in cats. A thorough diagnostic investigation needed to make an accurate and definitive diagnosis. With timely and appropriate intervention, many cats have favorable prognoses.

Wishing you wet-nosed kisses,


Critical care DVM

Grain-Free Dog Food

Published by  under Science and Medicine 

Grain Free

This is a great example of the unintended consequences that can result from making decisions based on scientific conjecture and preliminary hypotheses. In this case, the hypothesis was never a good one. If you are a pet owner, you may have noticed the recent trend toward grain-free dog or cat food. The justification for this trend is the notion that since dogs are essentially wolves, and wolves are pure carnivores, then we should not be feeding our dogs grains. This is basically the paleo diet for dogs.

It should be noted, however, that many carnivores do need to get some plant matter in their diet. They may get this from the stomachs of the herbivores they eat. Wolves will also occasionally eat berries as a minor supplement to their diet. But sure, wolves don’t generally eat grains. But that is not the problematic premise here.

The problem with the grain-free diet claim is that while modern dogs are closely related to wolves, they are not wild wolves. They evolutionarily split from wild wolves 15-40,000 years ago. Over that time their diet has shifted significantly. They no longer hunt in packs, but live off the scraps of human civilization. And they have adapted.

So the grain-free theory is flawed, and we should not base dietary recommendations on theory alone anyway, but actually gather evidence to test those theories. Perhaps we already have, in an unintended ecological experiment. In 2018 the FDA noticed a spike in reported cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. Previous years had 1-3 reported cases per year, in 2018 there were 320, and 2019 is on track to exceed this. This is still a small number compared to the millions of pet dogs in the US, but is likely massive underreporting. There is also likely some reporting bias here – one article on social media might explain the spike, rather than a true increase. But the FDA had to investigate the increase to see if it were real and what the cause might be.

What they found was that 91% of the reported cases involved dogs who were being fed a grain-free diet. These dog food formulas contain peas, lentils, or potatoes instead of corn and wheat to mix with the animal protein. DCM is a known vulnerability in some large breeds, and these breeds were represented in the reported cases. The average age of death from DCM in these cases was 6.6 years.

Right now vets are tracking several categories of DCM. First, they are seeing DCM in dogs with diets other than grain free, including boutique diets and those with exotic ingredients. This has resulted in the term BEG to designate the at risk diets. Further, they are seeing DCM in dogs eating a BEG diet in genetically at-risk breeds, and breeds not normally at risk of DCM. Finally, there are cases of DCM in which taurine levels are low and those that are normal.

Taurine is an amino acid important for heart function. The idea is that the BEG diets are low in taurine, resulting in DCM. However, most of the cases currently being seen do not have low measured taurine levels. So supplementing taurine may not rescue these BEG diets from causing harm. Further, even when measured taurine levels are normal, dogs may benefit from switching to a traditional diet with proven ingredients.

So – what does all this mean? We don’t know yet. There may be more than one mechanism at work here, depending on the breed and the taurine levels. The one variable that is most consistent is the BEG diet, and the one intervention that seems to help is switching off this diet to one with traditional ingredients. Vets also warn against homemade and raw diets. Just give your dog traditional dog food from a proven manufacturer.

This was an entirely unforced error. Dog food formulas have been tested and were evidence-based, safe and healthy for dogs. However, trying to capitalize on the “clean eating” nonsense, some pet food manufacturers and pet stores decided to ride the trend. So they promoted an untested product based on dubious science and likely caused completely unnecessary health problems.

We still need to do more research to confirm the association and the cause of the apparent increase in DCM. It’s still early on in the phenomenon. For now the best advice is to simply feed your pets traditional products with tested ingredients. Don’t believe the hype, which at best is a waste of money, and at worst might do harm to your pets.