Is Your Dog’s Food a Heartbreaker?
We’ve had many questions recently about grain-free pet foods and the possible development of a life-threatening heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with veterinary cardiologists and nutritionists nationwide are currently investigating the issue and recently issued a press release about their findings.
As of now, there is some evidence that diet is a contributing factor in the confirmed cases of DCM; however, there is still no clear indication of what formulations and components (or lack of) might be directly causing the problem. Despite the current correlation involving diets that are grain-free and utilize potatoes, peas, lentils and other legumes as a primary ingredient, it is still considered speculation until the exact cause is determined.
In the meantime, here’s the most important info for dog owners to know:
- DCM is not uncommon in certain breeds (Dobermans, Boxers, Golden Retrievers), but what started the concern is the appearance of DCM in many breeds not genetically predisposed.
- 91% of cases were being fed a “grain-free” diet, and 93% had peas/lentils as the major grain substitute.
- Currently, no affected patients have been on “prescription diets” made for dogs with food allergies.
- Several patients’ heart conditions have improved over several months when the diet was changed.
- Our veterinarians are recommending that owners consider a less “trendy” pet food brands for now, and instead choose one of the more well-known brands from large companies such as Purina, Eukanuba, Royal Canin, etc. These foods are generally not grain-free and usually have good “batch testing” in place for their foods. That said, be aware that some of these companies have less expensive, less healthful foods (think Beneful) and higher quality lines (like ProPlan)—so choose accordingly.
For more reading on the issue, we recommend the blog of board-certified veterinary nutritionist Dr. Freeman. You’re also welcome to call us at (408) 840-2744 with any questions you may have.