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  • #130390
    Amir H

    Thanks for the reply.

    I do know about the DCM issue and grain-free. That’s why i chose Fromm large breed puppy (it has 4 stars on dogfood advisor). I am worried about switching to a grain-free diet a bit as well but most high quality kibbles are grain free these days (Fromm is really an exception). Here are some other thoughts I had:

    1- Orijen is great in terms of ingredients but their last lawsuit is keeping me away from Orijen and Acana. I totally know that the lawsuit could be baseless but I want to be safe.

    2- I’m adding Primal nuggets and stella & chewy freeze dried to Fromm kibble as topper every day. So that’s a route I can continue. My dog eats 3 cups of Fromm food and the toppers I put are about 0.4 cups. So, at least I know I’m getting some freeze dried food and some other nutritions to her.

    3- I’ve also considered going completely freeze dried (buy Stella & Chewy). It’d be expensive but it still fits my budget. I just don’t want to make the transition while she’s still a puppy. I’ll do that when I’m transitioning her to adult food.

    It’s kind of sad that all good quality foods are grain-free these days.


    I would think the toxins could be a big part of it more than “exotic” meats. I live in the Netherlands and as Susan pointed out, this just isn’t an issue here in Europe either. Some very common meats for dogs in my country are venison, rabbit and goat. Very often fed raw too. I would think if meats like that were a cause for all of this we would be seeing quite a few cases here in NL!

    Orijen and Acana are sold here in Europe but we only get the stuff from the Canadian plant. Also, even if a food is not made in the EU, if it is sold here it must pass the same regulations that food made here does. I still don’t touch Champion foods though and it is not that common in the Netherlands. Most of us stick to foods made in Europe because the rules on pet food are much more strict.

    It is definitely an interesting theory! Interestingly, dog foods full of legumes are not very popular here either. We do have some with peas but foods like that just have not gotten very widespread here.


    Hi Joanne,
    You might be onto something cause America is the only country where these dogs are suffering with low taurine causing health problems…
    Canada, Australia, UK & Europe aren’t having these problems like the dogs in US??

    We dont get Orijen, Zignature or Acana in Australia maybe this is why we dont have any of these problems.
    Every time I see Patches vet which has been monthly lately cause of his lower back, I ask my vet has any vets here had any dogs come in suffering with heart problems caused by low taurine & she say’s “no” I asked her again last week & she laughed & said
    “Susan I think you need to stay off the internet’ lol….
    I’m not asking her no more cause I know now if she does start having dogs come in suffering with low taurine she will tell me, its stuck in her head lol…


    I would listen to your vet. They know more about your dog than a store owner. I personally would not touch anything from Champion (Orijen/Acana). They are currently in quite the lawsuit and have more cases than I am comfortable with of dogs having DCM and/or low taurine while on their foods.

    There is nothing wrong with grain inclusive food. Using peas/lentils/chickpeas etc in place of rice/oats/barely has no benefits unless your dog is specifically allergic to those ingredients. Peas and beans just up the overall protein content of the food with plant protein.


    I have a 4 year / 3 months old Siberian Husky and he started to gain little weight and he slowed down as he does not have energy anymore, plus he started to get few hot spots. So i went to the Vet and done some blood work on him. Tests came good , but the Thyroid test the Vet say is way to low and that’s why he has the spots, getting weight and probably all this causing from allergies.
    So the Vet put him on three different medications, witch he is done with two of them and just left with one ,for another week and then will have to do the blood test for Thyroid again to see the levels.
    I also asked if the food maybe a problem too, in what i was giving him. At that time witch was till some where half way in Dec 2018 , i had the kirkland brand from costco “Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Beef Meal & Sweet Potato” and before that , about 1.5 month ago i was giving him “Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Dog Food”
    So the Vet told me to give him dry food “with Grains” , so today i was looking for some dry food with grains at a local store witch the owner was the dog trainer & food for 25,30 with Law Enforcement , and he owns the store now, i told him my story about my dog health and what the vet recommended and he said , he will go with dry food like:
    Orijen Six Fish or the FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal – Original Formula
    Also he mention to give him 2 cups a day for now.

    So i need some clarification what to buy and what to choose between “with grains or grain free” ? Done a lot of reading and looks like i am more confuse than to know exactly what to buy,

    Any advice will appreciate!


    In reply to: 2019 reviews

    Maria G.

    You asked, “Then why does this website even exist? Is the owner still present? I was very disappointed when I saw how the Acana/Orijen mess was handled by this list. Not a believer. Do we really know who owns this site anymore?”

    The Dog Food Advisor is still (and continues to be) privately owned. We’re not affiliated (in any way) with pet food manufacturers.

    I (Mike Sagman) or at least one or more of our 4 member team are here each and every day. We all work hard to keep our 1000+ detailed reviews regularly updated.

    For proof, please take a moment to look at our “New and Updated Reviews” log. Please notice that we’ve researched, re-written and updated 78 reviews over the last 90-days alone!

    We’ve also published some 209 dog food recalls… every U.S. and Canadian recall event since 2009?

    About our “best” dog food lists, you also falsely claimed, “Seriously, 1/2 of them have been in trouble for recalls.”

    This statement is completely untrue. Have you checked our complete list of recalls? Do you still believe half of our best recommendations have been recalled?

    In fact, the overwhelming majority of these brands have never been recalled.

    And so what if some have? Does the recall of just one single batch of a dog food mean that every food that company ever manufactures again is not worthy of consideration?

    By the way, until Editor’s Choice is available again, we’ve provided a number of completely FREE “Best Dog Food” lists… each one includes at least 10 to 20 top recommendations, product images and mini summaries (as well as direct links to our current detailed articles and ratings).

    You also wrote, “I’ve come to find out that many websites like this owners are paid by different food companies to keep their foods high on the list.”

    Another baseless claim. We’ve never once received a single dollar (not even a free sample) from any pet food manufacturer. Ever.

    Every review on this website always ends with the following crystal clear disclosure and my personal promise to our readers:

    “In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews.

    “However, we do receive an affiliate fee from certain online retailers, including some that offer their own private label brands.

    “This policy helps support the operation of our website and keeps access to all our content completely free to the public.

    “In any case, please be assured it is always our intention to remain objective, impartial and unbiased when conducting our analysis.”


    In reply to: Vetmedin Shortage?

    Martha M

    Thank you, crazy4cats. Sophie was bitten by a rattlesnake while hunting and got a lethal dose of venom. During the course of trying to save her life they could not get her heart under control (she was throwing constant VPCs – premature ventricular contractions). Although she managed to survive the bite and subsequent infection following 2 doses of anti-venom and antibiotics, they decided to pursue the heart issue with an echocardiogram and discovered the DCM. Needless to say, we were completely stunned and devastated. She had never displayed any signs or symptoms of this condition. And she’s a 7-year old retriever who works hard in the cold weather during duck season.
    To answer Michelle G, DCM normally begins to affect the left ventricular wall (as it has in her case), weakening the heart muscle, and progresses to congestive heart failure. Sophie has a second part to her DCM and that is the arrhythmia she was experiencing in the emergency hospital. It’s not uncommon for this to accompany DCM, but it does put her at risk for sudden death. So she also takes a second heart med to regulate the arrhythmia, along with taurine supplementation. We have taken her to an outstanding veterinary cardiologist who happens to be in Nashville (we’re in Memphis) and she has confirmed the diagnosis. Sophie is in the occult phase of the disease (very early) and we are working closely with the cardiologist in the slight hope that it could be reversed.
    And yes, crazy4cats, we definitely do suspect the DCM is diet-related. I’ve fed my retrievers Orijen for years, thinking I was giving them the best I could. When Champion opened their U.S plant in KY a few years ago they changed the formula and started adding a number of legumes. Sophie had thrived on Orijen until that time but then started having stools that weren’t so great, enough that I would have to give her pumpkin to correct it periodically. In retrospect, how I wish I had switched her to something else then, but we had no idea.
    Before anyone goes nuts over my response that I believe this to be diet-related, allow me to clarify. Yes, in Sophie’s case we DO SUSPECT that (frankly one reason is because of the number of legumes used in the formula and how her digestive system clearly reacted to it). Even though the named legumes in Orijen are far down the ingredient list with excellent meat sources at the top, there are a grand total of 6 of them, in addition to green peas. This is known as ingredient splitting – name them separately and they are lower on the list, but if taken together as an entire group of legumes it would push them much higher on the list, and it consequently boosts the protein total as well, even though they are plant proteins.
    But there are so many things they don’t know yet about what’s causing this rise in DCM in breeds not known to contract it. Of course there is a lot yet to discover. Unfortunately for us, we don’t have the luxury of time. There is considerable suspicion that, in some dogs, legumes can interfere with the synthesis of taurine needed by the heart muscle. It’s very possible that Sophie is one of those dogs. We did test her taurine levels using a whole blood sample and they were within the normal range but the cardiologist told me just yesterday that may not necessarily tell the whole story about how her body is utilizing it, or not; and there could be other diet-related metabolic issues in her case, as well.
    She had called to say she was sending me a research article detailing the results of the study that was done on the group of golden retrievers and it was extremely informative. All the dogs diagnosed with DCM in the study had been consuming diets with similar characteristics, including grain-free, uncommon protein based, or legume-rich formulas (several had been fed Acana, and 1 had been fed Orijen; 52 healthy dogs were also part of the study). “Significant improvement in echocardiographic parameters and normalization of whole blood taurine concentrations from baseline to follow-up visits were observed in all but one dog after implementing a diet change and supplementation with taurine +/- L-carnitine.” Our cardiologist personally knows of two dogs that a change in diet successfully reversed the disease and knows of other cases where that has occurred, as well. Which is what makes me cling to hope.
    Of course there is no way to know if a different diet will help Sophie or not – I can only pray that it will. We’ll be returning for another echo in 6 months to see what, if any, changes there have been in her heart and will hope for good news. It has generally taken at least 6 months to demonstrate if a diet change is having any affect.


    In reply to: 2019 reviews


    Yes the owner is still around. He has a job and a life outside of DFA. What about now Then”Orijen Acana Mess” wasn’t handled to your liking?

    It’s a website. It’s not the end all that beats all. Nowhere does it say to believe only what DFA says. No one should depend on “here”. No one is making you stay here and read/post. If you don’t like it here, there are many other places to go to.

    By the way, there’s nothing wrong with recalls as a whole. It depends what the recall is for, how it’s handled and how many the company has had.

    Patricia A

    Purina deserves Champion.
    The class action lawsuit against Champion Pet Food (manufacturer of Orijen and Acana) has been amended in a concerning way. The lawsuit now includes “risk of inclusion in their pet food of pentobarbital…”

    Filed in Colorado today (11/12/18) was an amended lawsuit (complaint) against Champion Pet Food. The initial lawsuit against Champion was based on “negligent, reckless, and/or intentional practice of misrepresenting and failing to fully disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins in their pet food sold throughout the United States.” Now the lawsuit states this:
    bring this Class Action Complaint against Defendants Champion Petfoods USA, Inc. and Champion Petfoods LP (“Defendants”), for their negligent, reckless, and/or intentional practice of misrepresenting, failing to test for, and failing to fully disclose the presence and/or risk of inclusion in their pet food of heavy metals, pentobarbital, toxins and/or unnatural or other ingredients that do not conform to the labels, packaging, advertising and statements sold throughout the United States.”

    The clue to this concerning change in the Champion Pet Food lawsuit was this statement:

    “It was recently revealed on information and belief that Defendants were knowingly, recklessly and/or negligently selling certain of the Contaminated Dog Foods from the DogStar Kitchens containing pentobarbital, a substance largely used to euthanize animals.”

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Patricia A.

    In reply to: 2019 reviews

    Marla G

    Then why does this website even exist? Is the owner still present? I was very disappointed when I saw how the Acana/Orijen mess was handled by this list. Not a believer. Do we really know who owns this site anymore? Yes, do your own research and don’t depend on this. I just looked at the dog food lists for Jan.2019. Seriously, 1/2 of them have been in trouble for recalls. I’ve come to find out that many websites like this owners are paid by different food companies to keep their foods high on the list.


    In reply to: 2019 reviews

    Patricia A

    When I tried to edit my subscription it said they are revamping and adding features. Suggested putting my email address to be notified when it’s back to resubscribe.
    Funny about Acana and Orijen. My dogs were on Fromm for years. My pet supply store had brands arranged that most expensive were all in one aisle. Fromm was known as a superior kibble. Never had a recall at that time. Orijan and Acana had a reputation of the best of the best kibble you can feed, Tried it once with no success . Just didn’t eat it. There also is a lawsuit . Testing showed Champion kibble having higher levels of BPA in their kibble. Less then canned food but a chemical not associated with dry pet foods.


    In reply to: 2019 reviews


    Hi Patricia-
    The Editor’s Choice list has been shut down for new members and/or renewals for months. My subscription ran out months ago. I hope it’s revamped. Right now, one of the top brands on the list is Champion who makes Orijen and Acana. I would never buy either of these foods. Acana is responsible for DCM in many dogs. They use too many non-traditional ingredients that have not gone through any testing or feeding trials.

    Do your own research and call the companies who make the food you are interested in feeding. Good luck!

    christine v


    The distributor mentioned Mypetwarehouse being the first online store to sell Orijen. The shipment should be here from the US any day now, or might already be here now, I’ve stopped texting the guy I’m dealing with because i was constantly bombarding him with texts, and i think i was annoying him lol. We are getting all of the formulas except for Regional red (the one i really wanted!!!) and Tundra.

    Canidae told me they are working on getting in the raw coated kibble, but it is way down the road at this stage. I’ll text the Orijen guy again mid January, and will give you an update.


    Hi Christine,
    Which Orijen formula’s are coming here & who will be selling Orijen??
    I’m looking for grain free, limited ingredients, has Pork & Sweet Potato or Potatoes…..
    My Patch has IBD & I’ve been told “Wellness Simple” mighten be sold soon cause its not selling, it’s cause Pet Barn only sell the Wellness Simple thru Pet Barn online store & Pet Barn shops dont have the Wellness Simple in their shops so people dont see it, so no wonder it’s not selling + the price $130 for 11.8kg bag, its cheaper then a vet diet & has better ingredients then vet diet..,
    if you buy Wellness Simple online at the moment its $89 -12kg bag, I think they’re getting rid al the Wellness Simple & are selling it cheaper at the moment BUT delivery from Pet Barn goes by weight it cost $15 for a 12kg order to be posted, other online pet store have free delivery, orders over $29-Pet Circle – free, My Pet Warehouse- orders over $49 – free delivery..
    Are you sure 100% we are getting Origen?? cause Canidae was bringing out their new Ancestral raw coat Kibbles, they didnt come…they looked good.
    The people importing Earthborn Holistic said they were bringing out “Venture LID kibble” it didn’t come either.
    When it comes to filling out all the importation forms etc Ive been told its very very hard to bring in pet foods thats why I like the imported pet foods cause I know they have to pass very strict laws, where their meats come from etc, where the Australian made pet food is not regulated anyone can make a dog or cat food if you live in Australia..
    A heap of people are trying to change our pet laws, so no one can just make a dog or cat food they must do recalls straight away & tell pet owners there’s a problems if dogs are getting sick/dying, then when these Pet foods take off & get a good name they sell them too big pet food companies for $$$$$$$$, look at Black Hawk it was a really good dog food back 2008 a family run business then they sold it, then dogs got really sick the new owners were cutting corners buying cheaper meats/ingredients then the new owners sold it again, then again it was sold to Master Pet Food NZ owns Black Hawk now & the Original formula’s were reformulated & they made a new grain free line & had a quick & quiet recall 2-3months ago with the Black Hawk G/F Salmon formula, Master Pet Food released a statement & said they went thru a different Salmon supplier (Yeah a cheaper salmon supplier) least Black Hawk did a quick recall & made a Statement more then Advance did 1 year ago when dogs were dropping like flies after eating Advance Dermcare dry formula…
    Black Hawk & Ivory Coat are made at the Dubbo plant…..
    Ivory Coat was sold to Chinese is also made by the Real Pet Food Company, the Real Pet Food Company made Baxters Woolworths generic brand that was poisoning dogs 2017 & 2018..

    I stay away from all Australian made pet foods now unless it’s an honest small business like “Frontier Pets” she shows everything she does where her meat comes from, where the organically grown veggies & fresh farm eggs come from & Patch doesnt get sick..


    Interesting. I have never liked Orijen anyway.. but I could never personally support a company like that…


    Hi Christine,

    Who told you we are getting Orijen in Australia??

    We use to get Orijen but back in 2007 then Orijen over irradiated cat pet food, then FINALLY after so many deaths late November 2008 Orijen Pet Foods started recalling cat food due to all the death of cats in Australia.
    Then our Government banned Orijen ever coming into Australian waters, Orijen never ever apologized to all the poor pet owners…

    Look at

    * “Frontier Pets”
    Australian made dehydrated raw you just add some warm water its smells beautiful, its free range meats, orangic vegetables & eggs…

    * “Wellness Core Small Breed”
    small kibbles made US, sold Pet Barn store’s, cheaper if you go online buy pet barn online store & Click & Collect or the Pet Barn lady can do it & you get cheaper then price at Pet Barn store.

    * “Canidae Pure”
    small kibbles made US sold My Pet Warehouse online or Pet Stock pet shops
    none of these pet foods are Irradiated, I think its not done anymore?…..

    Follow Pet Food Review- Australia on face Book page
    He has posted poison Duck dog treats that were Irradiated & NEVER put it on the front of treat packet, by law if any treats have been irradiated it must be stamped on front of treat packet so pet owners do not give to their cats, but pet food companies dont do this..

    christine v

    I plan on feeding my 13mth old small Jack Russell Orijen puppy food (smaller kibble) when it finally becomes available here in Australia next month. I emailed Orijen and they said the puppy dry food is fine for Adults and is an ALS food. I compared the ingredients and GA to the Adult formula and i can barely see any differences.


    In reply to: Wildology feed

    Reina S

    I found this article. It says made in the USA. We have a Standard Poodle and our Rescue. We were feeding Orijen/Acana and our grocery bill was getting pretty high. We will do whatever to make the fur babies happy. My husband wanted to try the Wildology. We’ve weaned them to it and they love it. No super smelly poops, which I was afraid of. So, so far so good. I will keep you posted. I’m always nervous with any changes.

    Vanessa M

    Hi All-

    I’m interested to hear any advice anyone might have regarding a good brand of kibble and/or supplements to help my 5-year old Goldendoodle with his long-standing gastro issues.
    A history (I’ll try to keep it brief!)
    – He has never LOVED eating; will often leave at least one meal/day. Have had to add chicken or coconut oil to entice him to eat
    – Used to have a history every few months of getting diarrhea/vomiting bile for a few days. We would do chicken & rice, probiotics, and have altered kibble to figure out what’s causing it.
    – We had him on Castor & Pollux Ultramix- seemed to work well but then the history of diarrhea/vomiting bile would come back. Thought maybe it was the fat content of the food?
    – Switched to Orijen Fit & Trim as it had lower fat content. Dog did great on it but we were warned against being on it too long because it’s meant for overweight dogs and might not have the complete nutrition that our dog needs
    – Switched to Orijen Regional Red in July- dog LOVES eating it. He started pooping MASSIVE poops IN the house (very unusual for him). Pudding-like consistency, disgusting. I consulted with the pet food people who recommended lowering his daily amount (he’s quite lazy) and letting water inflate the kibble before eating. He became ravenous, like he wasn’t getting enough to eat and the pooping continued.
    – We just switched to Acana Duck & Pear (single protein) at the advice of a pet store clerk due to the lower protein amount in the food (since he’s lazy, he doesn’t need the high protein that Regional Red has?) He has since become constipated and super uncomfortable overnight, asking to be let out frequently from 2am onward.

    We have tried probiotics, goats milk, etc. He hated the goats milk and certain probiotics seemed to make things worse. He checks out at the vet fine, but I’m certainly not opposed to another medical check-up. We have a bag of Science Diet Gastro that the vet gave us when we have issues and he does well on it, but I doubt that’s a long-term food. Otherwise, the vet doesn’t have much to say in terms of kibble, food, etc.

    I’m just wondering if there is a food out there that might better serve him?? We are really at a loss and feel so bad for him!

    Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for any advice (large or small!) that you might be able to provide.

    Justin L

    We are welcoming a female puppy Samoyed soon, and I just wanted an opinion on whether to feed her Large Breed Puppy food or regular puppy food. The parents are 54 Lbs (mom) and 60 Lbs (dad). From what I seen that is right around the cusp of Large breed and Medium breed.

    Also would like to know any dog foods that you guys recommend. I was about to go with Orijen but noticed that their is a lawsuit filed in California, but its hard to tell what is noise or truly factual. For reference I am located in Canada which may affect the choice of foods. Thanks all in advance for your time.

    Karen K

    My dog has been on Orijen foot topped with primal raw since I adopted her 2.5 years ago. I recently had her taurine levels tested and they were low. I need a new food. She also has an sensitivity to chicken. Does anyone have any suggestions for a GMO free food that would work for her?


    In reply to: wellness products


    Hi Ana,

    I think your talking about Wellness “FISH” formula’s being high in Toxins, not all off the Wellness formula’s are high in Toxins & Contaminates…
    There’s a “few” Brands that have FISH formulas that are also “VERY” high in Toxins, Contaminates & Heavy Metals, the Annamaet Lean has Herring fish meal in it, so chances are it will also be higher in Toxin & Contaminates then one of Annamaet other formula’s, also Annamaet Lean is very high in legumes, best not to feed no more then 20% Legumes when feeding a dry kibble….

    There’s a heap of different “Fish” brands that have or are on the high toxin list it doesn’t mean all their formula’s are bad…
    Earthborn Holistic, Fromm, TOTW, Purina Sensitive Stomach Salmon, Acana, Orijen, Racheal Ray, Halo, Diamond, Nutro, Natures Variety, Nulo, American Journey,Go, Open farm, Ol’ Roy, Kibbles N Bits the list goes on & on..

    If your dogs can be feed home made raw or home cooked balanced diets this would be heaps better then feeding these dry processed kibbles or try & feed less dry kibble & more healthy ingredients, eggs, tin salmon, boiled sweet potatoes & fresh blended or cooked veggies etc there’s a really good video in the “Life With Dogs & Cats” group I’ve posted link below, feeding dogs fresh raw blended or cooked Veggies, vegetable fibers are more healthy for gut, the Video is called “Dont forget to feed your Veggies” & has Dr Jean Dobbs on the Video, really good information..
    also reducing some of your dog dry kibble & replacing with healthy Green & Orange veggies will help lose some weight..lower your dogs carbs the Annamaet Lean formula has 50% carbs..

    If you feed a dry kibble then it’s best to rotate between a few different brands that agree with your dogs, so if 1 of the dry foods you’re feeding is high in heavy metals, or not balanced properly, or is high in Legumes, your dog isn’t just eating this 1 brand of dry dog food 24/7, year after year…
    I stick with feeding dry dog foods that are grain free & have white meats, Turkey, Pork & Chicken, these meats seem to be cleaner then fish, thats if the pet companies have a good suppliers….
    Mycotoxins are poisonous chemical compounds produced by certain fungi found in grains,
    so it’s not just the meats that have toxins, heavy metals, so when I see a brand that is Turkey or Chicken formula high on the toxin list & it has grains, I think Mycotoxins & Roundup
    could be the reason why this chicken or turkey formula is high on the Toxin & Contaminates list…

    DFA doesn’t believe in these testing & blocks the name of company & any links to this company that does the studies. I think its good this company is testing 299 most popular dog/cat foods & treats, its making these pet food companies clean up their act, keeps them on their toes.
    DFA writes about it this company on the Orijen Review section.

    We have just had another recall in Australia “Black Hawk” Salmon formula made by NZ Masterpet food company have admitted they change Fish suppliers, (probably went with a cheaper fish suplier) then all these poor dogs became very unwell, “Advance” Dermcare was using Tuna & a heap of dogs died Nov-2017 to March-2018 the surviving dogs all have Mega Eosphagus & little quality of life..

    Join this new facebook group
    “Life with Dogs and Cats” – Health, Training & Research

    It’s run by Dr Karen Becker, Susan Garrett & Rodney Habib & a few other people, group started about 3 weeks ago & already it has 5700 people, there’s a couple excellent video to watch, also on Planet Paws f/b page & Rodney Habib f/b page..
    One video is about the latest UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s latest study: on Limited Ingredient/Allergy Diets, so Karen Becker & Rodney bought a few popular LID dog foods & had ingredients tested & “Natural Balance” Bison formula was “not” Bison meat, it was Beef, Horse, Pork, Goat, Lamb ot had every red meat in it….
    Video is called “False Hope of Limited Ingredient & Allergy Diet” – video..

    Cathy D

    Thanks everyone for your input. I do agree he has some serious issues and I do trust my vet, which is why I’m consulting her. She admitted that she has only seen 2 dogs in 30 year career at the university vet hospital with silica stones and that the science and specific issues relating to DCM are still unknown. Her recommendations were all for Purina products and she said that is who the consult with because of their relationship with the university. She also said there may well be other products out there but she wasn’t familiar with them.

    What this tells me, is that I need to ask more questions and learn more. I have no problem taking him off Orijen for the DCM issue, however I just don’t know if the Purina Pro Plan is the best. Perhaps I should consult with a holistic vet? I know I have options.

    I thought I could ask and see if others on this board had a dog with a similar situation and what path did they choose? Try to mitigate the silica stones or the dcm?


    According to The study they’re doing on this whole dcm thing the issue is that there are too many peas in most grain free foods and that’s whats causing the low taurine. Dogs (if on an appropriate meat rich diet) don’t need supplemented taurine and that’s the issue I’m having with this whole thing. Proplan isn’t meat (where taurine comes from naturally) rich. The grain free is a plant based food full of pea ingredients just like any other mediocre grain free food. If it was as easy as just supplementing taurine into the diet with a pill or something of the sort this would all be a lot easier but that’s not how it works so I would ignore what you vet suggested as they don’t seem to be very up to speed on what is actually being found with this study.
    Stay with Orijen or another meat based food you trust and add fresh meat and canned food into the mix and you’ll be just fine.

    Cathy D


    I’ve been feeding Gryff Orijen original since his bladder stone removal 2 1/2 years ago. Had a scan on Monday 10/22/18 and he is still stone free. Bad news, with all the talk about DCM and the potential link to grain free diets especially those high in pea/legumes the vet suggests I put him on a different diet. She has suggested grain free Purina Pro Plan as it has added taurine, but it gets horrible reviews on this site and it has lentil flour and pea starch. I’m so confused on what to feed him. He did have an echocardiagram and he does have a stage II heart murmur.

    If I put him on a regular diet (to avoid heart issues with grain free diet) then I risk silica stones.

    I am concerned and I need some guidance on what to feed him.

    Deb M

    The company that tests and the *********** Project rated Ol’ Roy Dog Food as 5 stars. If that does not give one pause at the legitimacy of the lawsuit, I do not innerstand why.

    My dog, a 6 yr. old Pomeranian, gets Orijen on the side of her home-cooked wet food, along with excellent vitamin, mineral and other supplements. The only issues she has is when our chickens get fleas and her reaction if we do not get the chickens sprayed down with neem and their yard dusted with D.E. in time. She is very allergic to the flea bites (who isn’t?) and she gets bacterial infections.

    ALL of our food is contaminated. All of it, even organic gmo-free, which is all I use in our house. We also use filtered and distilled water. Do people realize what is in their tap water may where the contamination may be coming from and what is making our pets and ourselves sick?

    We do the best we can for ourselves and our pets. It is all we can do. Make your decisions based on all the data you can and go from there. Remember to check out those accusing others of nefarious deeds to see if they are chronic “suers”, too. That is how some places make their money.

    Julie B

    It’s midnight and I’m up with my sick dogs. Horrible indigestion, really awful gas, and diarrhea. Zoe is moaning from the awful gas. I feel really bad that it took me this long to figure out that it’s the Orijen dog food that I’ve been feeding her for the last month. I thought it was possibly dog treats or table food that was causing the problem. I cut everything else out of their diet but Orijen. It became really apparent that it’s the Orijen food that is making them sick. That’s how I found this website, researching if anyone else has had a problem with this food. It is so horrible to listen to a dog moan, sooo mad. She is not sick enough to go to vet, just needs the horrible tummy gas to go away. I will never feed my dog this terrible food again. I’ve been dealing with this for weeks thinking it was everything else but Orijen, I even spent a day thinking it was a reaction from doggy influenza shots.

    joanne l

    Hi, I have some experience in dog food. I would choose Natures Logic or Instinct. I don’t care for the others. Here are my reasons: Zignatures has too many peas and too much fiber. Orijen lists peas and lentils about six times, even though they use a lot of meat they are still using a lot of beans and such. So to me it is like half and half. Also I know a lot of people like Instinct. Hope this helps.

    kullboys b

    I have a 6 lb long-haired chihuahua and she is currently on Blue Buffalo. I want to switch her to a higher quality food and have narrowed it down between the 4 below. I wanted to see if anyone could help me choose 1 or narrow it down (based on your experience or research). My dog doesn’t have any allergies and generally likes any food that’s put in front of her 🙂

    – Nature’s Logic
    – NutriSource
    – Zignature
    – Orijen
    – Instinct

    Thanks .

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by kullboys b.
    heytsu l


    My dog has been having loose stool issue for a few months now. He has been on Orijen since he was a puppy, which was fine but after his surgery and switch to the adult formula things have not got back to normal. I’ve tried feeing him a raw diet but he kept regurgitating and then refused to touch anything raw all together, switched back to dry food this time Belcando lamb and rice formula ,which improved the situation a bit but the stool still wasn’t great. After that I’ve been feeding him Terra Canis grain free cans ,which he loved and things were similar as on the lamb & rice dry food; I still had to clean his butt multiple times a week because of soft or runny stool.

    The vet suggested Royal Canin Sensitivity Control, which made things better the first week or so but after that things kept getting worse. His stool went back to loose and he kept licking the floor ,which he has never done before. They tested his stool for parasites and it came out clear. Now the vet told me to feed him Royal Canin Hypoallergenic formula for six weeks exclusively. And then if that doesn’t work, we will look further.

    He has been on this formula only two days and he has woken me up at five in the morning both days, desperate to potty with full blown diarrhea. He also shakes his head, and scratches his ear a lot. He has been farting all evening yesterday. The smell was horrendous. Could he just be adapting to the new food or is it already showing that this is not the right type of food for him? I’m a little lost as far as what the best thing to do is right now. I want to listen to my vet but it’s been going on for so long with little to no testing done that I’m starting to get a little impatient. How long before I can safely say the food is making things worse/ or at least not helping? What can I request from the vet other than a blood test (she didn’t want to do it until we try this food)?


    So in April I rescued this beautiful little beagle/coonhound mix and named her Sophie. Ever since I got her, she’s had the whole gamut of symptoms for what I have determined to be chicken and beef allergies. (my determination is based on her symptoms growing more severe when she eats chicken or beef.)

    Let me say, as an aside, I’m a very pro-Orijen guy. I am the guy who scoffs at inferior foods and everything is inferior to Orijen. Well, my dog can’t eat Orijen. I tried a number of other brands I believed to be high quality, and settled on Zignature solely because of their hypoallergenic diets with a good potential to rotate flavors. I know it’s not the best, but if my sweet little dog stops suffering it’s worth it. It certainly is a good food, without question.

    So here’s why I’m at a loss. I got her the kangaroo, and fed her that exclusively for 2 weeks. She started getting better. The bag ran low and the store was out of it, so I got her the pork. Stupid me also bought her a can of trout and salmon wet food as a topper. (she LOVES the Zignature without the topper, I just like her to have variety so she ENJOYS her food). She is scratching and biting herself more, but not nearly as bad as before. Now, I know I did a bad by introducing other proteins. Fine, fine. I won’t do it again, believe me. Here’s my real question:

    How likely is it that she is allergic to the pork vs the fish? Also, if she is more likely to be allergic to fish, does that mean ALL fish, or can it mean only, say, Salmon? Help! I love my dog more than my own life. I want the best for her.

    Michelle H

    I’m glad I found this thread. I’ve been feeding my black lab and golden retriever Acana for about 4 years. We started with Orijen but the cost became too much so we switched down. In the last year or so I’ve noticed my black lab having issues at dinnertime. It was like she was having trouble eating; she kept spitting out her food. I thought she was having trouble with her teeth so we took her to the vet and they said her teeth are perfectly fine. They did a general look-see and ultimately found swelling in her abdomen which led to finding a severe liver issue. We’re treating her with meds for that now. However, she’s still having trouble eating. We add water or homemade broth to it to make it softer. Now, my golden is starting to have issues, too. I see her spitting out food (and she eats everything!) and vomiting (she never gets sick). Oddly, my Ragdoll cat LOVES this food. He constantly sticks his face in their bowls and won’t stop eating until we pull him away. Seeing other folks with issues has led me to conclude it’s definitely time to try something new.

    Patricia A

    OH wow, I know exactly what you’re going through now. I have a three year old chihuahua who if I put her food down she will walk away. She wasn’t always like that but over the last two years I’ve been giving my 16 year old more home cooked meals because well she’s 16 and I know she really enjoys it of course and it keeps weight on her. But of course when she gets the chicken and some boiled carrots, steak, london broil, salmon, turkey etc. they get that as a topper also. But I can’t do this all the time and I also it’s not balanced with everything they need for health . So now if it’s not home cooked she will not eat all day. I’ve went through all kinds of canned and this last year went over to freeze dried as a topper. My other 8 year old eats everything but I’m resorting to hand feeding this one to get her started. Now that doesn’t work either. She’ll actually backs away likes she’s afraid of the food and I have to reach over to give her little bits but she keeps backing away. So been through all different freeze dried also. I stopped rehydrating and just put the freeze dried broken up on the kibble because I would be throwing away worried about it sitting out for over two hrs. I can’t even leave it on the floor because my chubby eight year old would gobble it down when I’m not looking . I tried putting some Orijen freeze dried treat, which she loves, crumbled a little on top of her food. Well that worked for a day but she was wise to me. I did let her “starve” for one day with only her share of hard boiled egg in morning but it backfired with the bile vomit the next day. Every night it’s a game of even my husband making believe he’s eating her food. Putting it on a paper plate. Making believe I’m taking it out of the over etc. She just stretches and walks as far away as she can get. Being that I tried so many foods and she still turns up her nose, I’m not giving up on the freeze dried . I think I’m doing the best for her health wise even though I have to hand feed her. I’m looking into other brands and also the new Pronto by primal. I’m not giving up on finding one she loves as much as my cooking. lol
    So I feel your frustration and worry. As for the fearfulness. Since she only eats when someones home, but fearful when you even walk past, maybe scratching her and telling her what a good dog she is while putting food down, . Or maybe move a little bit away from her when she is eating and have a string bean or carrot in hand and walk slowly back and give that to her. So she’ll start to associate you walking around with coming back with a treat she loves and not whatever caused her to be fearful in the past. Let us know how she’s doing . Oh and I just wanted to add it takes a while. I had a dog that would shake and refused to take a walk. I got her to walk one step on the leash. I would pick her up and put her back down again. Then I got her to walk two step. Picked her up and put her down and I got three steps out of her. Took a few weeks and people looking at me strange but now she struts around the block and loves her walks. So don’t give up. Takes patience with her to get that negative memory she experienced from her brain.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by Patricia A.
    J S

    Hmm does seem iron is by far the biggest difference? Do you know if that’s a concern? I did check Orijen and they show 150 in there food.

    Again thanks for the responses and help. I really just want to feed my animals the best food I can afford, WITH a company with a good history and it just seems that Fromm grain free cat food might be the best bang for your bunk. I also wonder if the Taurine levels are higher in cat food vs dog food? Seems that could actually be a huge benefit with all the FDA research going on ATM.

    J S

    Not named Orijen btw

    J S

    Please describe…..Pancreatitis is mainly caused by fatty diets….If the cat food has no more fat than say dog foods such as Orijen why would the dog get Pancreatitis? There are very high quality cat foods with great ingredients, high protein and fat levels on the same level as the most expensive dog foods on the market at a cheaper price.

    J S

    Seriously please tell me WHY cat food is bad for dogs? The only thing I can find is higher protein and fat levels. Is that it?

    If that’s the case why would I not feed my dogs high quality cat food that still has OK protein levels?

    For example: ATM I feed my dogs Fromm. I did feed Orijen before the switch to Kentucky and a baseball sized clump of kibble was found in the bag errrrr. I love the history of Fromm and feel safe feeding my dogs the food. The problem….30 or lower protein levels compared to 38+ of Orijen and other top foods.

    BUT Fromm’s 4-star cat food is about the same as Orijen in protein and fat levels.

    I could feed my dogs Fromm’s cat food that looks a lot better in ingredients and protein/fat levels than Fromm’s dog food and still be cheaper than Orijen.

    I looked at the analysis and everything else besides Protein/fat levels are pretty much the same when comparing Fromm dog vs cat food.

    SO please tell me why my dogs can not eat Cat food on a regular basis?

    Thanks All

    Gretchen B

    Why isn’t Orijen dry Small/medium Puppy food which is a 5 star dry puppy food listed under your best puppy foods?

    Gretchen B

    Why isn’t Orijen dry Puppy food which is a 5 star dry puppy food listed under your best puppy foods?

    Hope F

    Anyone out there that is feeding their Diabetic dog something other than the Vet recommended dog food for Diabetes. My vet only says Royal Canin or Hills and I would never feed my dog either brand if he was not sick and now to be forced to is burning me up. I read the ingredients and cringe. He started eating it ok but now does not like the wet Royal at all and the only way he will eat the kibble is with roasted chicken in with it. I would like to switch foods to something with better ingredients but it seems so hard to find out the caloric numbers for foods. they all give you ingredients and analysis but no one can seem to find me the Caloric amount per cup or whatever. So hard to balance it to the 14 units of insulin twice a day they have him on. He is doing ok but it is a fight with a vet who does not want me mixing things with his food to get him to eat it and a dog that will not eat or takes hours to finish. I work and travel for work so having dog sitters have to jump through hoops to get him to eat is a pain. He loves food just not this one. I was looking at like an Orijen Fit and Trim or Merrik . Any sugguestions would be a great help!

    Reese B

    My dog gets horribly itchy when she eats foods that have grains in them….I have no choice but to feed her grain free. In an abundance of caution with this report, I’m only going to feed her foods that have legumes or potatoes as the 6th or more ingredient. However, this only leaves me with 2 foods in my rotation (Nutrience subzero and Valens).
    Does anyone have an recommendations for grain free foods that don’t have legumes or potatoes in their first 5 ingredients? (Other than Orijen, her poops weren’t good on that brand, and with all the contamination/lawsuit/buy out rumors I’m not going to chance it with that one.)

    Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

    Eve M

    Thank you Haley re: the lentils, peas and Orijen. Yes, if I am to understand and believe the ingredient breakdown: 85% poultry, fish and eggs; 15% botanicals, vegetables, fruits.

    The logic being that there’s substantially less? Is this an incorrect interpretation? If so, please inform.



    Eve- Orijen does have lentils in it. Quite a bit so if that bothers you I wouldn’t suggest Orijen.
    The issue with having a grain free pea, potatoe, tapioca free food is it expensiveeeee. Dr elsey recently released a cat food that doesn’t contain any of these ingredients. The binder is gelatin (bone marrow) and for a 5-6 lbs bag is nearly 60$. Doesn’t make sense for companies to create a product like that that’s 99% meat product when it’s going to be so expensive. Most if not all dog food companies are in the business of making money. They don’t really care about your animals. They are focused on making food that is as cheap as possible for THEM so they can mark it up for the consumer. As sad as it is if you really want to avoid all of these issues that’s going on in commercial dog food you would just make your own dog food because there’s no escaping all the crap dog food companies throw at customers. Bottom line they don’t care, champion foods doesn’t care, purina doesn’t care, mars doesn’t care, Colgate/Hill’s doesn’t care, none of them care about anything more than making money in the cheapest way possible for them. Money makes the world go round and for any of us to think pet food companies are any different is very naive.

    Eve M

    After consideration, I’m going back to Orijen although the contaminant numbers are high. I will supplement it with Primal frozen raw and hope the mixture isn’t too much of either. There are no lentils or peas in Orijen.

    I agree with you Carol. It seems like someone could tweak the recipe and leave out tapioca, peas, lentils and potatoes.

    Quinoa? Brown rice? Are these grains on par with lentils?


    Carol C

    Well I have a golden retriever- I thought I was doing the best and spending money I didn’t have buying Orijen or Acana. Now I am reduced to Purina or Royal C – We (golden retriever owners especially) are advised no peas, lentils, POTATOES – alfalfa and the list goes on and on. I have no idea what to feed anymore! Everyone who has a golden especially should get taurine tested whole blood. I live in Canada and more of a choice in U.S for foods. Best is to rotate, and supplement with toppers as sardines, beef, chicken hearts, egg yolks and some plain yogurt.

    Eve M

    Honestly, I am concerned. I try not to overreact to this constant barrage of new info regarding dog food ingredients, but I’m bothered.

    I emailed Stella & Chewy’s about the RAW BLEND – red meat, freeze-dried, baked kibble with freeze-dried raw. Peas are the 3rd ingredient and lentils are 4th. Below is what looks like an automated email response which did nothing to instill confidence.

    ALSO, to pile on… if you go to *********** Project, foods like ORIJEN get 1 star for contaminants which I’m sure relates to the inclusion of fish. Don’t think Orijen includes peas or lentils.

    “I and LOVE and YOU, Lamb and Bison” scored low on *********** PROJECT’s contaminants and high on ingredient quality. Lovely, until I actually read the ingredients… 4th peas and 5th lentils.

    All of this feels like literally, PICK YOUR POISON. For some reason, *********** project is being scrubbed by dog food advisor. HMM.

    Good luck everyone.


    STELLA & Chewy’s email….
    Thank you for your email. We are aware of the FDA release dated July 12 regarding a potential association between reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, and certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. We have no indication that any of our products are involved in FDA’s investigation. We work closely with veterinarians and nutritionists to ensure that our diets are complete and balanced and meet AAFCO requirements. Please know that our freeze-dried raw and frozen raw diets are free of peas, lentils and potatoes, and contain less than 1% of the legume seed fenugreek. Also, we do add taurine to our raw and kibble diets. We continue to be confident in the safety and nutritional quality of all of our diets. We appreciate the work that FDA does on behalf of pet parents, and will monitor this investigation as it unfolds.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Eve M.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Eve M.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Eve M.
    Narayanan K

    My 5 year old Standard poodle has had a very difficult time since March 2018. He has been on Orijen original since uppyhood.

    He has suffered from multiple loose stool bouts, vomiting and 2 Mast Cell Tumor surgeries. He will not be on this brand anymore. I’m curious to try Zignature based on the reviews here.

    Amelia Z

    Yes, you are correct. I have a call into the sport dog company. Don’t know how a “non” sport dog will do on this food. Not sure if it is too rich.

    I haven’t feed grains to my dogs. Auggie was tested for food sensitivity and he is sensitive to corn. In general I don’t think grains are good for dogs. Dogs are carnivores, so the main source of protein in their diet should be meat. Grains are inferior sources of protein. Diets with higher grain and carbohydrate content can lead to weight gain, allergies and other potential health problems. I believe grains can become moldy as well. Not to mentions they are sprayed with pesticides. The problem is pet food manufacturers need a filler in the foods, so it’s either grains or legumes. Very few kibble is free of both of these.
    As far as Purina and Royal Canin. just look at the ingredients, junk! I don’t trust either of these companies, it’s all about the money. Purina who makes Beneful, shouldn’t be on the market.
    Royal Canin 1st two lines of ingredients: (doesn’t sound like something I would eat)
    Brown rice, chicken by-product meal, oat groats, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, wheat, chicken fat, natural flavors, powdered cellulose, dried plain beet pulp, fish oil, wheat gluten, dried tomato pomace, vegetable oil, sodium silico aluminate, calcium carbonate, potassium..
    The 1st ingredient in food should be a named protein (chicken, beef, pork etc) NOT rice in my opinion. My older golden who is 7, always had yeasty ears. The past couple of months I am only giving them kibble one meal, their other meal I am giving them freeze dried-Orijen regional red. I use to clean his ears every other day. Now, no yeast in 3 weeks. Coincidence, I don’t think so. I do believe that kibble is the worse type of food to feed, so I have been researching other options. I know the big push is to go raw, but I just can’t do that yet, which is why I am giving one meal freeze dried. Although, it’s getting pretty expensive.

    Patricia A

    Just like to share this. By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

    Thirty years ago, researchers at the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California, Davis discovered the link between taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart muscle disease in cats.1 According to Morris Animal Foundation, “The veterinary community was stunned” by this news, in part because the UC-Davis researchers were able to prove that DCM was reversible when cats received the amount of taurine they needed in their diet.2

    Of course, most holistic veterinarians and others knowledgeable about veterinary nutrition and who understand the link between diet and disease weren’t surprised. Taurine, which is an amino acid, is found in meat, and cats, as meat-eating obligate carnivores, haven’t developed the ability to make their own taurine.

    This means it’s an essential amino acid for cats — they must get it from their diet, and 30 years ago when UC-Davis veterinarians made their discovery, we were well into the age of processed pet food, having made cats (and dogs) almost entirely dependent on humans for their nutrition.

    Pet food formulators often guessed at the effects of extensive processing on nutrients. This is especially true for pet food (feed) that blends leftover pieces and parts from the human meat processing industry with other sources of questionable nutrients before they are rendered and cooked at high temperatures, depleting the nutrients that existed before processing, as well as altering the chemical composition of ingredients (and often creating toxic byproducts along the way).

    Are Dogs With DCM Taurine-Deficient?
    As soon as the UC-Davis researchers published their findings in cats back in the late 1980s, veterinary cardiologists began looking for taurine and other nutrient deficiencies in their canine patients with DCM.

    No direct cause-and-effect relationship could be established, since the vast majority of dogs with DCM weren’t taurine-deficient. Taurine is not considered an essential amino acid for dogs because like many other species, their bodies have the metabolic capacity to manufacture taurine from the dietary amino acids cysteine and methionine.

    To further confuse the issue, while the disease is inherited in certain breeds, for example, the Doberman Pinscher, in other breeds it is indeed linked to taurine deficiency. In the mid-1990s, UC-Davis conducted a study of American Cocker Spaniels with DCM and found low taurine levels in many of the dogs. The study authors wrote in their abstract:

    “We conclude that ACS [American Cocker Spaniels] with DCM are taurine-deficient and are responsive to taurine and carnitine supplementation. Whereas myocardial function did not return to normal in most dogs, it did improve enough to allow discontinuation of cardiovascular drug therapy and to maintain a normal quality of life for months to years.”3

    A 2003 study showed that some Newfoundlands had taurine deficiency-related DCM,4 and two years later, another study was published about a family of Golden Retrievers with taurine deficiency and reversible DCM.5 As veterinary cardiologists continued to encounter cases of taurine deficiency-related DCM in dogs, and continued to search for a common link, diet was thought to play a major role in development of the disease.

    UC-Davis Is Currently Conducting Research on Taurine Deficiency-Related DCM in Golden Retrievers
    The dogs receiving the most focus right now due to escalating rates of DCM related to taurine deficiency are Golden Retrievers. Veterinarian and researcher Dr. Joshua Stern, Chair of the Department of (Veterinary) Cardiology at UC-Davis, and owner of a Golden Retriever Lifetime Study participant named Lira, is looking into the situation.

    He’s collecting blood samples and cardiac ultrasound results from Goldens both with DCM and without the disease. Stern agrees diet plays a role, but he also suspects there are genes at work that increase the risk of the condition in the breed.

    “I suspect that Golden Retrievers might have something in their genetic make-up that makes them less efficient at making taurine,” Stern told the Morris Animal Foundation. “Couple that with certain diets, and you’ve given them a double hit. If you feed them a diet that has fewer building blocks for taurine or a food component that inhibits this synthesis, they pop up with DCM.”6

    Dr. Stern has written an open letter to veterinarians and owners of Goldens that you can read here. In it, he briefly explains his research and recommends a four-step process dog parents can undertake if they believe their pet is at risk for, or is showing signs of DCM:

    1. If you believe your dog is at risk for taurine-deficient Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and wish to have taurine levels tested, please request a whole blood taurine level be submitted (lithium heparin tube) for analysis. The laboratory I recommend can be found here.

    2. If you believe your dog is showing signs of DCM already, please seek an appointment with a board-certified cardiologist to have an echocardiogram and taurine testing obtained simultaneously — do not change foods, do not supplement prior to the appointment.

    3. If you receive taurine test results that come back as low, please seek an appointment with a board certified cardiologist to have an echocardiogram performed to determine if your pet needs cardiac medications and the appropriate supplements to be used (DO NOT SUPPLEMENT OR CHANGE FOODS UNTIL YOU HAVE THE CARDIOLOGY EVALUATION COMPLETED).

    If you live in close to UC Davis, we can arrange research-funded cardiology evaluations for your dog if you contact at this email address.

    4. If you receive cardiologist-confirmed DCM results, please take an image of the food bag, ingredient list and lot number. Please also request a copy of the images from the echocardiogram from your cardiologist (ensure that you have full DICOM image copies on a CD). Please download and complete the full diet history form found at this link.

    Please email the image of food bag, a three-generation pedigree, diet history form, copies of the taurine level results and medical record to this email address. A member of our laboratory team will contact you to discuss our thoughts and possibly request additional information, food samples or blood samples for further testing.

    Stern wants to get to the bottom of this issue as fast and as medically appropriately as possible. He hopes to publish his initial findings soon and offer scientifically based guidelines for Golden parents regarding diet and DCM. If you’re interested in published research on taurine deficiency and canine DCM, Stern also created a collection of files you can download at this link.

    A Particular Brand of Grain-Free Kibble Is Implicated in Some Cases of Diet-Related DCM in Goldens
    Although Stern doesn’t discuss specific diets in his letter linked above, according to Dr. Janet Olson of Veterinary Cardiology Specialists:

    ” … [T]he majority of cases [of taurine deficiency-related DCM in Golden Retrievers] they [Stern and his team] are seeing at UC-Davis are from grain free diets that are high in legumes, like ACANA pork and squash [kibble].”7

    Other sources, including a Golden Retriever owner in Mountain View, CA who contacted us, also mention the same food — ACANA Pork and Squash Singles Formula limited ingredient kibble made by Champion Petfoods. According to my Mountain View source, Dr. Stern has been following a group of Goldens with DCM who had been eating the ACANA formula, and a year later, after changes to their diet, taurine supplementation and in some cases, the use of heart medications, all 20+ dogs either fully or significantly recovered.

    Consumers who’ve contacted Champion about the issue receive a response stating that taurine isn’t an essential amino acid for dogs, and ACANA and ORIJEN diets are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages. (Since taurine isn’t considered an essential amino acid for dogs, AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles establish no minimum requirement for taurine.)

    Champion acknowledges that a taurine deficiency may contribute to the incidence of DCM in genetically susceptible dogs, but states their diets aren’t formulated for dogs with “special needs.”

    Are All the Starchy Ingredients in Grain-Free Kibble to Blame?
    Since grain-free dry dog food is a relatively new concept, it’s quite possible there’s something about the high-starch (carb) content in these diets that depletes taurine levels and/or makes the taurine less bioavailable. The problem might be related to a chemical reaction (called the Maillard reaction) between taurine and a carbohydrate during the extrusion process that depletes the digestible taurine level in the food.

    And while legumes are being singled out as the potential problematic ingredient, grain-free kibble is often higher in both whole carbohydrates and purified starches (e.g., pea starch, potato starch and tapioca starch) than grain-based dry dog food. The higher the starch level in any pet food, the less protein is included.

    In a study published in 1996 on the effect of high heat processing of cat food on taurine availability, the researchers noted, “These results suggest that Maillard reaction products promote an enteric flora that favors degradation of taurine and decreases recycling of taurine by the enterohepatic route.”8

    Said another way: The byproducts of the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars (carbs) in dry cat food alter the microbiome (gut bacteria), causing degradation of the taurine in the food, reducing its availability to the cat, and also preventing the taurine from being efficiently recycled by the cat’s body.

    An earlier study published in 1990 that looked at taurine levels in a commercial diet that was fed heat-processed to some cats and frozen-preserved to others drew the same conclusion. The researchers stated ” … processing affects the digestive and/or absorptive process in a manner that increases the catabolism of taurine by gastrointestinal microorganisms.”9

    Other Factors That Influence the Taurine Content of Pet Food/Feed
    A 2003 study published in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition looked at taurine concentrations in the ingredients often used in both home prepared and commercial pet diets, as well as how cooking influences taurine content.10

    The researchers reported that animal muscle tissue, especially marine animals, contains high levels of taurine, whereas plant-based ingredients contained either low or undetectable amounts. Also, the amount of taurine that remains after cooking is somewhat dependent on the method of food preparation. When an ingredient was cooked in water (e.g., boiling or basting), more taurine was lost unless the water used to cook the food was included with the meal.

    Food preparation that minimized water loss (e.g., baking or frying) retained more of the taurine, however, it’s important to note that heat processing in any form destroys anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of taurine present in raw food. In addition, extended periods of storage of processed pet foods, and freezing, thawing and grinding of raw pet food also depletes taurine content.11

    Another UC-Davis study published in 2016 evaluated the taurine status of large breed dogs fed low-protein diets (lamb and rice formulas), since they are now known to be at increased risk for taurine deficiency-related DCM.12 The researchers specifically looked at the ingredients rice bran and beet pulp used in many of these diets, and determined that while rice bran didn’t seem to be a primary cause of taurine deficiency, beet pulp may be a culprit.

    Both rice bran and beet pulp bind bile acids (bile acids should be recycled, which effectively recycles taurine) in the small intestine, and increase excretion (which is undesirable) because it depletes taurine by interfering with the enterohepatic recycling of taurine-conjugated bile salts and lowers total body taurine levels.

    Grain-free/”low-protein” commercial diets are very high in carbohydrates, which displace amino acids. They also contain anti-nutrients (e.g., saponins, trypsin inhibitors, phytates and lectins) that may interfere with taurine absorption. When you add in the high-heat processing used to manufacture kibble, it’s hardly surprising these diets aren’t an adequate source of taurine for many dogs.

    How You Can Protect Your Dog
    Those of us who are passionate about animal nutrition have been having a painful awakening for some time now about just how nutrient-deficient many dogs and cats are today. The taurine-DCM issue in dogs is yet another example that animals need much higher levels of bioavailable amino acids from a variety of sources than most are consuming.

    Unfortunately, some processed pet food advocates are using the link between grain-free dog foods and DCM to try to push pet parents back in the direction of grain-based diets. Don’t be fooled. The problem with grain-free formulas isn’t the lack of grains! It’s the high level of starchy carbohydrates coupled with the extreme high-heat processing methods used to produce these diets.

    Until we have much more information on the subject, my current recommendation is to supplement all dogs with high-taurine foods, no matter what type of diet they’re eating. An easy way to do this is to simply mix a can of sardines into your pet’s meal once a week. You can also find the taurine content of many other foods on page two of this study and also in this Raw Feeding Community article.

    If you have a breed or breed mix known to be susceptible to DCM (e.g., Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Cocker Spaniel, Boxer, Great Dane, Scottish Deerhound, Irish Wolfhound, Saint Bernard, Afghan Hound, Dalmatian, Portuguese Water dog, Old English Sheepdog, Newfoundland), especially if you’ve been feeding grain-free kibble, or if for some other reason you’re concerned about your dog’s heart health, I recommend following Dr. Joshua Stern’s four-step process outlined above, starting with a visit to your veterinarian.

    Alex D

    How about Wellness Core? It’s in-between Orijen and Acana in terms of protein content I believe. We’re currently switching our Vizsla puppy to Orijen from Wellness Core because I want an even higher protein content since she’ll be joining me on regular long-distance runs as she gets older–and based on the feeding schedule, Orijen actually ends up being slightly cheaper than Wellness Core over the long run.

    Nevertheless, our girl had no problems with Wellness Core and, but for Orijen being a step up in protein/ingredients, we’d stick with the brand.

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