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FDA warns of grain-free pet diets and DCM

Lane Animal Hospital alerts pet owners that the Food and Drug Administration  has issued another warning about feeding grain-free diets to your pets.

The FDA has issued 3 alerts (July 2018, Feb 2019, June 2019) regarding a connection between cases of a heart condition called DCM and grain-free diet.

According to a defination provided by Cornell Veterinary School, “Canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a primary disease of cardiac muscle that results in a decreased ability of the heart to generate pressure to pump blood through the vascular system.”

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As of April 30, 2019 there have been 560+ cases and 100+ deaths, and 90 percent of cases have been in dogs eating grain free diets.

Most implicated diets contain peas, chickpeas, beans or other lentils, potatoes, or sweet potatoes.      

Cases are very likely under-reported due to lack of awareness and lack of recognition of DCM.

Partial list of brands with reported cases include: Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Naturals, Natural Balance, Origen, Nature’s Variety, Nutrisouce, Nutro, Rachel Ray, Nutrish, Kirkland (Costco), Wellness Core, Nutriscience, Canidae, Solid Gold, Priam (Raw).  

How do we know the DCM is diet related?

Non-genetically pre-disposed breeds are affected.

Dogs in same household on same diet have been diagnosed.

Young healthy dogs that would not be expected to develop DCM are affected.

Heart abnormalities have resolved and dogs have recovered with diet change; whereas genetic DCM is progressive and dogs do not recover.

Why are the diets causing heart disease?

The exact cause is currently unknown and research is ongoing.

The most likely theory is a formulation problem with these brands which is causing abnormal absorption or metabolism of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is known to cause DCM.

It may be related to ingredients which bind taurine or interfere with taurine metabolism. Suspicious ingredients include lentils (peas, chickpeas, beans, etc.) and potatoes, sweet potatoes which have been used to replace traditional grains in the diet.

Please note: Taurine is not deficient in the diets. Adding or supplementing taurine does not prevent the problem.

What should you do if your dogs have been eating one of these diets?

Switching your dog to a non-grain free diet from a brand of food which employs a team of board-certified veterinary nutritionists and does feeding trials and research on their foods. The only brands which currently meet WSAVA guidelines are Hills, Royal Canin, Purina, and Eukanuba/Iams.

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2 thoughts on “FDA warns of grain-free pet diets and DCM”

  1. I find it highly suspect that the brands recommended in this article are four of the crappiest brands of dog foods you can feed your dog. Who paid for this study?

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