Introduction: Golden retrievers are over-represented in cases of taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy and recently a surge in cases has prompted further investigation.
Objective: To describe the clinical, dietary, and echocardiographic features in golden retrievers diagnosed with taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy, and to determine specific dietary associations. A second aim was to determine the whole blood taurine concentrations in a representative sample of healthy golden retrievers.
Animals: Twenty-four client-owned golden retrievers with documented taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy and 52 healthy client-owned golden retrievers.
Methods: In this multicenter prospective observational study, baseline and follow-up echocardiographic data, complete diet and medical histories, and whole blood, plasma, or serum taurine concentrations were obtained. Baseline and follow-up echocardiographic data were compared. Associations were evaluated between specific diets and taurine deficiency or congestive heart failure. The prevalence of low whole blood taurine concentrations in the healthy golden retrievers was calculated.
Results: Twenty-three of 24 dogs diagnosed with taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy were fed diets that were either grain-free, legume-rich, or a combination of these factors. None of these diets were feeding trial tested using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures. Twenty-three of 24 dogs had significant improvement in their echocardiographic parameters and normalization of taurine concentrations following diet change and taurine supplementation. Nine of 11 dogs diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) had resolution of their congestion at follow-up with five no longer requiring diuretic therapy and four tolerating diuretic dose reduction by >50%.
Conclusions: Certain diets and diet characteristics were associated with the development of taurine deficiency. Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers is likely multifactorial, including a combination of dietary, metabolic, and genetic factors.