BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Emerging collaborative research from veterinary experts and animal nutritionists at BSM Partners and a veterinary cardiologist with the University of Missouri suggests blood tests are not a silver bullet solution for diagnosing canine cardiac issues related to nutrient deficiencies.

According to the peer-reviewed study, which appeared in the March 2024 issue of the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, there was no observable connection between plasma, whole blood, skeletal and cardiac muscle taurine concentration among the dogs involved.

“This particular research found that blood tests are not a reliable indicator for nutrient levels in the heart,” said Sydney McCauley, Ph.D., board-certified companion animal nutritionist, manager of product innovation at BSM Partners, and co-author of the peer-reviewed article. “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.”

The study spanned seven months and involved 33 mixed-breed dogs and 32 beagles fed diets containing varying levels of animal protein (chicken) and grain-based ingredients, including corn, wheat, sorghum, potato, pulse ingredients, lentils and yellow peas. Scientists took biopsies of cardiac endomyocardial and skeletal muscle at the beginning and end of the study, and collected blood samples at 30-day intervals.

“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,” said Stacey Leach, DVM, DACVIM, co-author and chief of cardiology and associate teaching professor of cardiology at the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center.

According to BSM Partners, the study involved the creation of “the largest data set in healthy dogs to date,” which will serve as a useful reference for future clinical research topics.

“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,” McCauley added.

Find the full text of the study here.

Read more about research in the pet nutrition space.