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Special topic: The association between pulse ingredients and canine dilated cardiomyopathy: addressing the knowledge gaps before establishing causation.


In July 2018, the Food and Drug Administration warned about a possible relationship between dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and the consumption of dog food formulated with potatoes and pulse ingredients. This issue may impede utilization of pulse ingredients in dog food or consideration of alternative proteins. Pulse ingredients have been used in the pet food industry for over 2 decades and represent a valuable source of protein to compliment animal-based ingredients. Moreover, individual ingredients used in commercial foods do not represent the final nutrient concentration of the complete diet. Thus, nutritionists formulating dog food must balance complementary ingredients to fulfill the animal's nutrient needs in the final diet. There are multiple factors that should be considered, including differences in nutrient digestibility and overall bioavailability, the fermentability and quantity of fiber, and interactions among food constituents that can increase the risk of DCM development. Taurine is a dispensable amino acid that has been linked to DCM in dogs. As such, adequate supply of taurine and/or precursors for taurine synthesis plays an important role in preventing DCM. However, requirements of amino acids in dogs are not well investigated and are presented in total dietary content basis which does not account for bioavailability or digestibility. Similarly, any nutrient (e.g., soluble and fermentable fiber) or physiological condition (e.g., size of the dog, sex, and age) that increases the requirement for taurine will also augment the possibility for DCM development. Dog food formulators should have a deep knowledge of processing methodologies and nutrient interactions beyond meeting the Association of American Feed Control Officials nutrient profiles and should not carelessly follow unsubstantiated market trends. Vegetable ingredients, including pulses, are nutritious and can be used in combination with complementary ingredients to meet the nutritional needs of the dog.

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