Investigation into Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs that are Symptomatic for Heart Disease

UPDATE: May, 2020 – This study is currently closed. Please contact our cardiology department. Phone: (352)392-2235

The University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine is currently recruiting dogs with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) for a clinical research trial. This study will evaluate the effect of diet on DCM.

  • Inclusion Criteria:
  1. Dogs with DCM (with or without congestive heart failure)
  2. Dogs can be of breeds typically predisposed to DCM (e.g. Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Great Danes) or atypical breeds not usually predisposed to DCM
  3. Dogs can be eating any diet at the time of diagnosis, but owners should be willing to change the diet to one recommended by the University of Florida (one of several high-quality, reduced sodium, foods made by well-established manufacturers)
  4. Dogs must still be on their original diet at the time of study enrollment
  5. All visits take place at the University of Florida, Veterinary Hospital
  • Exclusion criteria:
  1. Dogs that have already changed their diet
  2. Dogs less than 3 kg (6.6 lbs)
  • Procedures: Dogs enrolled in the study will have a physical examination, ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram), electrocardiogram, and blood tests (including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, taurine concentrations, NT-proBNP and troponin I). Dogs will then be transitioned to one of several recommended commercial diets and reexamined 3, 6 and 9 months later. Dogs that are deficient in taurine (as determined by blood tests) will be supplemented with taurine.
  • Costs: The first step is to schedule an evaluation appointment by the Cardiology Service to determine if your dog will qualify for the study. If your dog is eligible for the study at the time of the evaluation, the study will cover the costs of the echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and blood tests. These costs will be covered by the study at each evaluation (enrollment, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months). The costs of other tests, hospitalization, or medications are not covered by the study, nor is financial incentive provided.
  • Contact: Contact the Cardiology Staff at the Small Animal Hospital 352-392-2235 or Dr. Darcy Adin by email at
  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Darcy Adin


Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a serious disease whereby the heart becomes weak and enlarged. Dogs may have symptoms of heart failure and can have a shortened lifespan with DCM.  Recent reports suggest that there may be a relationship between certain dog foods and DCM.  Some affected dogs have improved when their diets are changed, supporting the role of food in this disease process.  The purpose of this study is to investigate this potential relationship, and to determine if improvement in heart function occurs with a change in diet.

For more information on this issue:

As part of both the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Academic Health Center, Veterinary Medicine is dedicated to advancing animal, human and environmental health through teaching, research, extension and patient care.


Boehringer Ingelheim

The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program offers DVM students an opportunity to gain exposure in biomedical research.


Need animal care? Visit the UF Small Animal and Large Animal Hospitals. From dogs, cats, birds and exotics to horses, cattle, llamas, pigs and many other large farm or food animals, our experienced veterinarian staff is ready to assist.