FDA Investigating Potential Link Between Diet and Heart Disease in Dogs

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June 12, 2018 — The FDA has today announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of heart disease in dogs known as dilated cardiomyopathy… or DCM.

About DCM

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle that results in an enlarged heart

And which can lead to congestive heart failure.

Although the root cause of DCM is unknown

The condition appears to be (at least partly) related to genetics.

That’s because…

Larger breeds (like Great Danes and Boxers) are more frequently affected by DCM.

And far less common in smaller breeds.

Possible Link to Diet

The FDA has recently received reports regarding cases of DCM in breeds not typically prone to the disease.

Specifically…

Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as some mixed breeds.

In addition…

Researchers have observed…

These dogs had been eating pet foods containing peas, lentils, legume seeds, or potatoes as their main ingredients.

Or their protein, starch and fiber derivatives…

Near the top of the ingredients list.

Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition…

For time periods ranging from months to years.

High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled “grain-free”.

But it is not yet known how these ingredients might be linked to cases of DCM.

Taurine Deficiency?

According to the FDA…

A Labrador Retriever with low blood levels of taurine is recovering from DCM with veterinary treatment…

Which includes taurine supplementation and diet change.

On the other hand…

Four other cases of DCM in atypical breeds, including a Shih Tzu, a Miniature Schnauzer, and 2 Labrador Retrievers…

All presented with normal levels of taurine.

Which means…

At this point…

It’s premature to conclude that a taurine deficiency is the definitive cause.

The Bottom Line

As of this moment…

The FDA is just beginning its investigation.

So…

Results are not yet available.

It will take time and considerably more research to determine if there’s a definite link between grain-free dog foods and DCM.

Until we know for sure…

Be patient.

Don’t overreact.

And don’t be frightened by all the well-meaning yet misguided advice you’ll surely encounter on the Internet.

Base your feeding decisions on facts and science.

Especially accurate label analysis.

Keep in mind…

The Dog Food Advisor has never favored any recipe just because it’s grain free.

Nor should you.

Instead…

Our ratings are heavily weighted in favor of our estimate of each recipe’s apparent meat content.

In fact…

They’re automatically reduced by about a half-star

Anytime we find plant-based protein “boosters” (like peas, legumes or non-meat protein concentrates) too close to the top of any ingredients list.

Finally…

Many of the very best dog foods on the market are grain free…

And they’re made by some of the most respected companies in the USA and Canada.

We’re confident the industry will quickly adapt its recipes to any decisive conclusions reached by the FDA’s future findings.

Should that be necessary.

Until then…

Our very best advice…

Stay Informed

We can update you the moment the FDA releases its findings.

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