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Causes of non-hereditary DCM in dogs explored

ChrisBoswell/iStock/Thinkstock dogs at park
Virtual scientific forum gathered experts to examine causes of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.

Scientific experts from academia, industry and veterinary medicine came together Sept. 29, 2020, in a virtual scientific forum hosted by Kansas State University (KSU) to examine potential causes of non-hereditary canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, including the emerging issue between canine DCM and certain diets.

The goal of this virtual scientific forum was to share preliminary data, collaborate and explore multiple — and even conflicting — scientific theories regarding potential DCM etiologies, according to KSU. The collaborative event presented clinical research occurring on all levels, including nutrition, cardiology, toxicology, academia and industry. This exchange allowed for discussion of current research findings as well as sharing of insights from preliminary studies, thereby furthering the collective understanding of the issue.

The Food & Drug Administration, the veterinary community — especially veterinary nutritionists, veterinary cardiologists and other specialists — industry and academia continue to examine non-hereditary DCM in dogs to help determine what factors may be contributing to the heart conditions observed and reported to FDA.

Dr. Steven Solomon, director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said it was encouraging to see the shared commitment to understanding non-hereditary DCM in dogs using multidisciplinary scientific approaches.

KSU has posted materials from various presenters at the scientific forum to make them available to the public. This includes opening remarks from Solomon and a presentation by a team of FDA scientists about a subset of DCM cases that made full or partial recoveries.

Solomon said, "I want to emphasize that this is not an investigative update; it's an inflection point that provides FDA with an opportunity to clarify and emphasize the following points":

* Historically, DCM has been primarily linked to genetic predisposition in certain breeds, but in the context of these atypical cases, emerging science appears to indicate that non-hereditary DCM is a complex medical condition that may be affected by the interplay of multiple factors, such as genetics, underlying medical conditions and diet.

* FDA has not taken regulatory action against or declared any specific pet food products unsafe or definitively linked to DCM. As the scientific community looks further into the role diet may play in these cases, the agency hopes to explore additional avenues about ingredient levels, nutrient bioavailability, ingredient sourcing and diet processing to determine if there are any common factors. Solomon said FDA has asked pet food manufacturers to share diet formulation information, which could substantially benefit the understanding of the role of diet.

Solomon recommended that pet owners talk to their veterinarian about the dietary needs of their dog based on the animal's health and medical history.

"FDA sees this as an ongoing, collaborative, multidisciplinary scientific venture, of which we have just one piece as the regulator of animal food and reviewer of adverse event reports received as part of the pet food early-warning and surveillance system," he said in his remarks. "The scientific community engaged on DCM continues to assess the available information and fill data gaps to determine what factors may contribute to the development of non-hereditary DCM. We look forward to continued engagement with scientists as opportunities arise. FDA will provide additional updates if or when substantive scientific information comes to light."

This forum was an important first step in sharing data across many fronts and will hopefully lead to further discussion and collaborative efforts, KSU said.

"I am encouraged and optimistic that multidisciplinary collaborators will continue to exchange information and engage each other to put forth their best research and thinking so that we all can gain a fuller understanding of non-hereditary DCM," Solomon added.

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