Advertise
Free Compliments of our Advertisers
Sonoma County Gazette
Deadlines
Subscribe
Menu
The squirrels are eating the ripe persimmons. Scruffy is defending the tree. By the way be safe, Don’t feed pets ONLY grain-free diets!. Image: pxhere.com - Creative Commons
The squirrels are eating the ripe persimmons. Scruffy is defending the tree. By the way be safe, Don’t feed pets ONLY grain-free diets!. Image: pxhere.com - Creative Commons

Going Out on a Limb

Ain’t bein’ human grand?

Feb 23, 2020
by Dr. Michael Trapani

Share:

The greatest talent of human beings is our ability to know things without really knowing. We are adept at making conclusions from inadequate data. It works! Except when it doesn’t. Our "gift" generates both deep insight and incredible stupidity. Ain’t bein’ human grand?

I am an Evidence-Based Practitioner. I don’t claim to KNOW anything. Instead, I develop my best understanding of available evidence. When new information turns up, I revise my thinking.

Let’s face it, we humans have believed lots of things that were later proven to be untrue. No matter how much we know, there’s always more to learn and better understanding for us to develop.

Today, I’m offering up an idea that I cannot prove, I have little evidence to support, and that may prove to be untrue. In a universe full of uncertainty, it must be accepted that even the most cautious of us will make mistakes. We WILL, sometimes, draw incorrect conclusions. We are human. It’s our nature to screw up.

Knowing that we make mistakes, it is incumbent upon us to make the SAFEST MISTAKE possible: one that harms the least number and generates the greatest benefit.

We have all seen news stories about grain-free diets causing Dilated Cardiomyopathy (AKA "DCM") in dogs. Oh, the incidence is low, and the proof is sparse, but there is definitely something going on and way too many previously healthy dogs are turning up with this condition after being fed boutique or grain-free diets. Many of these dogs die. Some evidence suggests that low dietary taurine levels (an amino acid found in meat) promote the problem. Hearts starved of taurine develop weak muscle strength and loss of cardiac function, causing heart failure and death. Some of these dogs have low blood taurine levels. Some of them normalize when placed on higher taurine diets. Others do not show these test results and do not improve with taurine.

OK. You waited for it: I think I’m seeing this disease in CATS. I can’t prove it.

Way back in the 1980s, we used to see dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in cats. The disease was almost uniformly fatal. The cats would be fine, then go into heart failure, seemingly out of the blue. Treatment did little good and most of them died soon after onset of the disease. THEN, by the mid-1980s, the link between dietary taurine levels and DCM was discovered. Commercial diet formulations were adjusted and DCM in cats quickly disappeared. Decades passed with no cases. Feline taurine deficiency became a thing of the past.

Recently, DCM cases in dogs associated with legume and pea based (grain-free) diets have spiked, generating great concern. Cats are eating these diets too!

I have seen several cats with DCM recently: Two came from the same household and died within hours of presentation, so rapidly that there is no way to be sure of the cause. A third cat in the same household, who refused to eat the grain-free food, remained healthy. Another cat developed DCM signs, including low-protein fluid in the chest cavity, and appears to have returned to normal with dietary changes and taurine supplements. 

The last cat was referred to a cardiologist, was medicated for DCM, placed on taurine supplements, and has improved. Only this cat has been tested, and his blood taurine level was normal. Whether his heart function will return completely to normal on taurine remains to be seen.

So, I’m not sure:  Has taurine deficiency-induced DCM in cats returned because of grain-free diets? Or am I drawing imaginary conclusions based on insufficient evidence? What is the Safe Mistake?

I feed my own cats a variety of diets and change the ration regularly. I never trust anyone diet to provide for all of their needs and feed them many different foods. There is no completely perfect diet. If your cat has no specific, special needs, feed a variety of quality diets and let those diets correct each other’s flaws.

Maybe I’m right and maybe I’m not. Millions of dollars and years of research will be required to sort all of this out. Until that happens, make the safe mistake: Don’t feed ONLY grain-free diets!

Comments:


Login to Make a Comment

Please support our sponsors:

Local Guide for takeout food

Sonoma County Restaurants who offer Take-Out Food during the Corona Virus Shelter-in-Place.
NOT on our LIST & MAP? Get LISTED:
https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/submit-business.html

SENIOR Resources during COVID-19 Pandemic

SENIOR Resources during COVID-19 Pandemic - Grocery Stores, Meals, Caregiving, Transportation and more to Shelter-in-Place. NOT on our LIST - Get LISTED HERE:
https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/submit-business.html


Family Guide for Corona Virus Shelter-in-Place - Sonoma County - with link to SCOE activities and more 

Fine Tree Care - Sonoma County Tree Services

Visit Fine Tree Care WEBSITE for a List of our SERVICES - Testimonials and to request a FREE Estimate

Flip through the pages of the print edition of the 2020 Sonoma County Gardeners Resource Guide

Your 2020 GUIDE to support locally-owned garden businesses and natural landscaping practices.

LOCAL GUIDE to Cannabis Dispensaries and Delivery Services, Sonoma County & Beyond.

LOCAL GUIDE to Cannabis Dispensaries and Delivery Services, Sonoma County & Beyond.All dispensaries have verified their information.

Sonoma County Bicycle Shops and Groups

Sonoma County Bike Shops and Groups. Find LOCALLY-OWNED Bicycle Shops for NEW, Used and Rental Bicycles as well as REPAIR. Look for a bike-riding group that suits your needs and style.

Locally-Owned Jewelry Businesses in Sonoma County

Find Goldsmiths and Jewelers who create custom designs, offer jewelry repair, estate appraisals, and gems.

Bookstores of Sonoma County - LOCAL GUIDE

Find a LOCALLY-OWNED Bookstore near you - CLICK HERE

Flower Shops and Florists of Sonoma County

Please support locally-owned businesses and tell them the Gazette sent you - THANK YOU!