Study Finds Whole Blood, Plasma Tests are Unreliable for Diagnosing Canine Cardiac Issues

By Pet Age Staff//March 8, 2024//

Study Finds Whole Blood, Plasma Tests are Unreliable for Diagnosing Canine Cardiac Issues

By: Pet Age Staff//March 8, 2024//

Listen to this article

Animal nutritionists and veterinarians from BSM Partners, along with the chief of cardiology at the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center, recently published the results of a seven-month study that found no correlation between plasma, whole blood, skeletal and cardiac muscle taurine concentrations in dogs. This development indicates diagnoses of cardiac disease in dogs must not rely solely on blood tests. The research appeared in a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition.

“This particular research found that blood tests are not a reliable indicator for nutrient levels in the heart,” said Dr. Sydney McCauley PhD, PAS, Dpl. ACAS, of BSM Partners, an article co-author and board-certified companion animal nutritionist. “We can no longer assume that taurine whole blood and plasma testing, which are commonly used to diagnose canine heart diseases, can accurately tell us what’s going on inside the heart. This finding should have a significant impact on how dogs are diagnosed with heart issues related to nutrient deficiencies, beginning another chapter in our fields’ collective efforts to continually improve the lives of animals.”

For the study, researchers formulated four canine diets with varying amounts of animal protein and with and without grains, which were fed to 33 mixed-breed hounds and 32 beagles. Blood samples were collected every 30 days throughout the seven-month study and cardiac endomyocardial and skeletal muscle biopsies were performed at the beginning and end of the study. This study led to the creation of the largest data set in healthy dogs to date, allowing for it to be used in the future as a reference for clinical and research comparisons.

“Going forward in the future, I think this research indicates that measuring taurine and carnitine blood levels are not reliable predictors of what’s going on in the heart in clinical patients,” noted Dr. Stacey Leach DVM, DACVIM, an article co-author, and chief of cardiology and associate teaching professor of cardiology at the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center.

BSM Partners is the largest full-service pet care research, consulting and strategy-to-shelf product innovation firm. BSM Partners’ research professionals collaborate with hundreds of clients ranging from the largest companies to the smallest upstart companies to formulate, review and advise on the development of hundreds of new products each year.