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Pet Wellness

How a Simple Diet Change Saved This Good Boy’s Life

Photos: Courtesy of Bronwyn Duffield Photography and Caroline Bowers

Holden the Golden, a 5-year-old golden retriever in North Carolina, developed congestive heart failure from a poorly functioning heart secondary to nutritional cardiomyopathy in November of 2018. Due to Holden’s allergies to common dog food ingredients, his owner had been feeding him a packaged mix of pork and squash, unknowingly accelerating the problems with his ticker. 

“Before his diagnosis, he was pretty calm,” Holden’s owner said. “I thought it was because he was just naturally a calm dog, when really now I know it was because he wasn’t feeling well at all.” 

His owner took him to the vet, not because Holden was displaying any abnormal behavior, but out of caution after seeing a post from another golden retriever on Instagram. This golden had been taken to a veterinary hospital for severe dilated cardiomyopathy, potentially due to his diet. “This led me to do research, which led me to the FDA’s warning of the possibility of boutique diets consisting of exotic ingredients, or grain-free diets, particularly those that are legume-heavy,” Holden’s owner said. “During this research I found out that I had been feeding Holden one of the diets on this list for over two years.”

Fortunately, after getting Holden’s diagnosis from an X-ray and emergency echocardiogram, and then following a strict medication regimen and prescription diet, his energy levels are back and Holden is healthy, his owner said. 

“Holden loves to be active, although he also loves to be lazy, too. His favorite activities include fetching tennis balls in the ocean, going on daily walkies, hiking up mountains, and getting his photo taken,” his owner explained, adding that Holden is a registered Therapy Dog through Pet Partners and helped his owner and their family cope with the loss of two loved ones.

“Holden sure used his therapy dog skills on us, as he was there to give love when it was needed the most. We plan to volunteer at local hospitals and nursing homes once it is safe to do so,” his owner said.

Holden’s owner urged other pet owners to do their research on the best diet for their pets, especially before feeding them anything unconventional. “When deciding what foods to feed your pet, stick to brands that you know are heavily researched,” his owner explained. “Always consult your veterinarian and be your pet’s best advocate.”

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