Acquired Heart Disease
- Accounts for 95% of all diagnosed heart conditions
- Disease that develops during the course of your dog's life
- There are two principal causes of acquired heart disease:
- Valvular disease, which is also known as atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI) or mitral valve disease or endocardiosis
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Accounts for less than 5% of diagnosed heart conditions
- These are heart problems that your dog is born with
- Conditions will usually appear and be diagnosed before your dog is one year of age
Acquired heart disease is most often related to the diet, environment, and physical fitness of your Golden. The longevity of a Golden is directly affected by these factors. AVVI (atrioventricular valvular insufficiency) is the most commonly diagnosed form of heart disease in all dog breeds, followed by DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). Acquired heart disease can also be related to the health history of a Golden's parents and grandparents. Congenital heart defects usually appear in a puppy's first year of development, which is why we at Golden PuppiesTM provide a one year health guarantee against congenital defects. All of these factors stress the importance of knowing the health history of a Golden's parents and grandparents before they are included in our breeding program.
DCM is a heart disease that primarily affects large and giant breed dogs that have a genetic predisposition for it such as Dobermans Pinschers, Boxers, Saint Bernards, Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes, Dalmations, and Newfoundlands. The disease is less common in small and medium breeds except American and English Cocker Spaniels. With DCM, the heart muscle is enlarged or inflated like a balloon, with a thinning of the heart wall, and a weakened ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the dog’s body. The reported symptoms include decreased energy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and episodes of fainting or collapse. For many decades, DCM was thought of as a concern only in specific breeds, of which Golden Retrievers were not included. However, more recent cases have been reported to the FDA finding DCM occurring in other breeds that are not predispositioned to develop the disease such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, English Bulldogs, miniature Schnauzers, and some mixed breeds. The exact reasons why they are beginning to see DCM cropping up in other breeds is not completely known at this time, but they have some pretty good ideas. Research has turned up some very interesting commonalities in the reported cases. Here is a quote from a recent U.S. FDA news report dated July 12, 2018:
“Diets in [DCM] cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other ‘pulses’ (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list [on dog food packaging], indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.”
The New York Times stated the following in their interview with several well-regarded veterinary research organizations on the matter of finding cases of DCM in non-predisposed breeds associated with the disease:
“The common factor [in DCM cases] was a diet heavy in peas, lentils, chickpeas and potatoes — carbohydrates typically intended to replace grains. Other veterinary cardiologists have also noticed the phenomenon. ‘The first clue for us was when we saw a household with two unrelated miniature Schnauzers with D.C.M.’ said Darcy Adin, a veterinary cardiologist who teaches at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. ‘They were both eating the same boutique, exotic protein, grain-free diet.’ Her team has documented 36 dogs with suspected nutritional D.C.M., including poodles and dachshunds. The possibility that expensive food, lovingly chosen, could make one’s adored pet devastatingly ill is sending shudders through dog owners.”
In the past year, we have had probably one or two people call us who lost their Golden to DCM (purchased form other breeders) and wanted to know if our breeding dogs had any history of this heart disease. Fortunately, we have not had any such disappointments with heart disease, but we have not been using grain-free dog foods on a regular basis except for short periods of time. We do not believe that all grain-free dog foods will definitely and eventually lead to heart disease, but we do think it is important to do your homework and make an educated and informed decision before deciding on your dog’s food diet. Their seems to be strong evidence and we do believe that diet is one of the main contributor to DCM specifically in Golden Retrievers. For a more detailed discussion of this subject please see our article on Grain-Free Dog Food.
Keep in mind that we are not veterinarians, or medical professionals, nor do we have any specialized training to qualify us as professionals in the field of veterinary care. We are professional breeders of the very amazing Golden Retriever. We genuinely love this breed. We thoroughly research our information combined with many years of experience and try to provide the best of what we have learned to both our customers and those who also love the Golden Retriever breed. Please research this subject on your own and consider different opinions so that you can form your own well-informed opinion on this subject. Thank you for considering Emery-n-Denise's Golden PuppiesTM
We are exclusively a Golden Retriever Breeder of AKC pure bred Golden Retrievers and we have Golden Retriever Puppies for sale in Florida and California.
 Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine, 7500 Standish Place, HFV-1, Rockville, MD 20855, July 18, 2018.
 “Popular Grain-Free Dog Foods May be Linked to Heart Disease”, New York Times, July 24, 2018.