FDA DCM clarity

Dog Food Advisor Forums Diet and Health FDA DCM clarity

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  • #142024 Report Abuse
    Patricia A

    Pet owners have – previous to this June 2019 FDA update – been told far too many times that the cases of DCM were directly linked to boutique brands of pet food. Thanks to this FDA update we know that information wasn’t very accurate. The U.S. leaders in pet food sales are Mars, Purina, General Mills, Smuckers and Diamond; all listed with high numbers of FDA DCM reports.

    Pet owners have also been repeatedly told – previous to this June 2019 FDA update – that exotic protein ingredients were directly linked to cases of DCM. This update proves that information wasn’t very accurate either. The FDA provides this information on protein types linked to DCM cases:

    What would have been a proper investigation by FDA (but hasn’t been discussed thus far), is determination of the quality of the Chicken, Lamb, Salmon and so on ingredients of each pet food.

    Example: when “Chicken” is listed on a pet food label ingredient panel – the ingredient can be USDA inspected and passed chicken, USDA inspected and condemned chicken, whole chicken, chicken bones (no meat), chicken skin (no meat) and/or a slew of other types of chicken.

    Also, the FDA did not clarify if in the above chart “Chicken” or “Lamb” is chicken or chicken meal or lamb or lamb meal which have quality variations as well.

    It would be very telling information for pet owners to learn the quality of the animal protein ingredients used in the pet foods reported to FDA. (FDA did not allow us – Association for Truth in Pet Food – to participate in their investigation as they did Pet Food Institute. We certainly would have asked for that investigation if they would have allowed us.)

    The FDA also released data of common ingredients used in the pet foods linked to DCM reported to the Agency.

    Another interesting perspective that FDA failed to determine (or at least failed to provide pet owners) would have been to determine what percentage of each of these diets were peas or lentils or potatoes (or the combination). Such as, were some of the reported brands using 30% peas and lentils, 40%, 50%? This again would be very telling information that would benefit pet owners (though clearly it would not be beneficial to manufacturers for pet owners to know).

    FDA also provided an update to the types of pet foods involved.

    Dry/kibble pet foods remain the leading style of pet foods linked to DCM.

    FDA mentioned in numerous places of their update how they continue to work with industry. As reminder, we have been provided evidence that the FDA was working with industry long before they even notified pet owners of their investigation.

    While the June 2019 update is information and is of value, it remains fact that more than 1 year into this investigation pet owners are left with little assistance to protect their pets. While we wait for answers, FDA continues to allow pet food to violate federal law, continues to allow waste to be disposed of into pet food with no warning or disclosure to pet owners, continues to facilitate a means for AAFCO to own the legal definitions and regulations of pet food keeping pet owners in the dark about their pet food purchases.

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Patricia A.
    #142026 Report Abuse

    Susan Thixton is not a veterinarian. She is not a veterinary nutritionist. Therefore she is not a reliable source of information.

    We have had this discussion before:
    (excerpt from article below)
    Susan Thixton
    Ms. Thixton is a vehement activist at war with the pet food industry, government regulators, and anyone who doesn’t share her views about pet nutrition. She blames the death of one of her dogs on a preservative in pet food and identifies this experience as the genesis of her crusade.
    Unfortunately, her passion is not matched by a respect for science or evidence or a very sophisticated understanding of epidemiology, nor does she have any apparent willingness to consider she might be mistaken or others might know more than she does about such issues.
    Ms. Thixton is one of these “experts” whose expertise consists of all the information she can find that supports what she is determined to believe no matter what. She has served as a public member of AAFCO, the group that generates much animal feed regulation, but was dismissed in 2017 for personal attacks against other board members. She expresses deep contempt for science and for anyone who doesn’t see the industry/government conspiracy poisoning our pets that she warns about, and her participation in this series illustrates the degree to which it is ideologically driven.

    #142029 Report Abuse

    excerpt below
    To put this issue into proper context, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of April 30, 2019, the FDA has received reports about 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet. Tens of millions of dogs have been eating dog food without developing DCM. If you are concerned about the diet you are currently feeding your dog, FDA recommends working with your veterinarian, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to determine the best diet for your dog’s need.

    #142042 Report Abuse
    Patricia A

    Anon Thixton is NOT giving her opinion and she is NOT formulating dog food. You wrote “Ms. Thixton is a vehement activist at war with the pet food industry, government regulators, “. And she has no reason for this since we can trust them all 100% for our pets safety?????
    The FACTS she listed on in the new FDA report which shows graphs high to low brands/manufacturers. most associated with DCM in their study .Then the graphs with the protein in the kibble with the most cases. All along there was the thought that there wasn’t enough knowledge in regard to the proper formulation of food with “exotic” proteins. The chart FDA showed the protein being fed with MOST cases of DCM was chicken with the more exotic ones being less implemented in DCM cases.
    Please read the questions she has regarding the the new FDA study. They are right on relevant questions even though you don’t agree with her type of advocacy for the health of our pets.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Patricia A.
    #142045 Report Abuse
    joanne l

    Patricia most dogs eat chicken recipes and exotic meats probably not that many dogs eat it. So chicken is not the problem b/c there are a lot of grain free chicken dog food and that seems to be more popular. So it is the fillers in the chicken grain free diet, example pea and lentils. I would not think it is chicken it is the peas and lentil and pea protein in the chicken grain free diets. Like I mentioned that is more popular than the exotic meats. Not saying that exotic meat is good just saying that it is not as popular. That is why it is lower on the list.
    For example Acana is very popular and so is Zignatures.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by joanne l.
    #142099 Report Abuse
    Patricia A

    Thank’s Joanne. Makes sense. I wish they broke down let’s say the Acana and tell us what percentage in the kibble actually comes from meat as opposed to peas. That would clear up for me if the ingredient/protein splitting is the problem with the lack of animal protein . But other foods have the legumes high up on ingredient list that are popular brands without being on their list . I give Stella chewys as a very small base and they assured me that a higher percentage of protein is from meat and not the peas.I rotate the kibble and will be using Wellness core for a while. All very confusing . Glad I have small dogs who at this time not high on the DCM list.

    #142104 Report Abuse

    Acana and orijen both break down amounts of meat vs protein. So does natures variety instinct. Says right on the back what’s from veggies and what’s from meat. You can also get the carb vs carb %s with just the info on the nutritional analysis.

    #142176 Report Abuse
    joanne l

    I was reading article after article about the FDA warning, and I read that the FDA is taking it seriously and they mentioned that they wanted to know if companies changed something and or sourcing. So they will probably look into were the companies are sourcing their ingredients. Which I think is good that they do that.

    #142198 Report Abuse
    Robert B

    In light of the most recent update issued regarding FDA CVM’s Investigation between the relationship between diet and canine heart disease (DVM), I decided to review the 500+ case reports from the 5-year period studied. The published incidence rate including breeds with a genetic propensity for DCM is estimated to be between 0.1-0.2%.

    We own a 9-1/2 year old, neutered Australian Shepherd who we have been feeding Orijen dry foods all of his life. When I look at Orijen (we feed Adult, Regional Red & Senior) I see lugumes and pulses, but well down the ingredient list by weight. That said, there a dozen cases of DCM associated with the brand. I do realize that the incidence rate is influenced on how widely a food is selling.

    There were 10 case reports of Australian Shepherds (the summary shows n=13 but I could not find them) and DCM out of the 515 canine cases reported (or about 2%). The observed rate out of the dog’s within the cases is > 10x the general population rate for ALL dogs. This struck me as not happening by “chance”.
    I reviewed the listed dog foods fed to the Australian Shepherds and then looked into what their current top 10 ingredients for legumes, pulses and tubers:

    Case 1) Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Fish meal and Potato recipe dry dog food: Potatoes
    Case 2) Zignature Kangaroo and Lentil: Peas, Chickpeas, Pear Flower, Red Lentils, Green Lentils
    Case 3) Fromm Pork and Pea: Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flower, Pea Protein, Sweet Potatoes
    Case 4) Blue Buffalo wilderness natures evolutionary diet with chicken and lifsource bits: Pea Protein, Peas, Pea Starch, Pea Fiber, Potatoes
    Case 5a) Farmina N&D Pumpkin Formula Medium and Maxi: Pea Starch, Dried Pumpkin, Pea Fiber
    Case 5b) Kirkland Natures Domain Salmon and Sweet Potato: Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Pea Protein, Potato Fibre
    Case 5c) Kirkland Organic Chicken and Pea: Organic Peas, Organic Lentils, Organic Garbanzo Beans, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Potatoes
    Cases 6 & 7) Pine Forest Canine Recipe with Venison & Legumes – Taste of the Wild Pet Food: Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils, Pea Protein, Pea Flour, Fava Beans
    Case 8) Earthborn grain free (specific variety not declared): Peas, Pea Protein, Pea Starch, Chickpeas
    Case 9) Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free Chicken and Potato: Potatoes, Yellow Peas, Pea Protein, Potato Starch
    Case 10) Acana (all flavors except Chicken or Lamb): Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Green Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Chickpeas

    I see a consistent use of legumes or tubers as ingredients among these foods (including Hills!). I work in R&D and while I agree the root cause may not be fully understood and the rates shown in the pareto chart are biased by how widely used a food is I can see why the Agency sent out the notification. Given the > 90% rate in the reported cases of grain free, legume formulated foods, I have made the decision to move our Australian Shepherd to a new dry food.

    So I have been trying to identify high quality grain inclusive dry foods to replace Orijen. So far I have identified:

    N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate Senior Mini & Medium
    N&D Ancestral Grains Grains Chicken & Pomegranate Senior Medium & Maxi

    Adult Gold
    Reduced Activity Senior Gold

    Nature’s Logic:
    Canine Beef Meal Feasts
    Canine Chicken Meal Feasts
    Canine Lamb Meal Feasts
    Canine Turkey Meal Feasts

    Lamb Meal & Rice
    Beef & Rice

    We will begin to titrate him off Orijen onto some of these foods. We will first buy small bags to see how he a) likes them and b) his stool quality and general energy/health before settling on a new rotation of foods.

    Do any of you have any experience with these foods or have any other suggestions for me to consider?

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Robert B.
    #144589 Report Abuse

    Robert, you can add Firstmate, Holistic Select, Sport Dog Food, and Annamaet to your list. Here’s the tough part that people are forgetting. Alfalfa is a legume. Alfalfa meal is in a lot of “grain friendly” dog foods. It’s almost impossible to find a food without some type of legume. Recheck your list and see if alfalfa meal is in the ingredients. Fortunately, the alfalfa meal is so far down the list it shouldn’t be a problem.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by hamish.
    #144591 Report Abuse
    Robert B

    Agreed….(and thank you).

    I did miss alfalfa which is a legume. Since writing that post about a month ago, I have found some other foods that I have tried that omit these. This is the rotation that I am trying.

    Annamaet Option
    Ingredients > 1%:
    Salmon Meal, Brown Rice, Millet, Rolled Oats, Lamb Meal, Pearled Barley, Canola Oil, Menhaden Fish Meal, Menhaden Oil, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Apples, Natural Flavor, Dried Chicory Root, Flax Seed Meal, Lecithin, Marine Microalgae, Salt.

    Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Lamb with Fruits and Vegetables
    Ingredients > 1%
    Lamb Meal, White Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Millet, Pearled Barley, Oatmeal, Canola Oil, Egg Product, Carrots, Celery, Beets, Parsley, Lettuce, Water Crest, Spinach, Natural Flavor, Lecithin, Calcium Carbonate, Kelp Meal, New Zealand Green Mussel, Cranberries, Blueberries, Salt.

    Dr. Tim’s Kinesis
    Ingredients > 1%
    Chicken meal, brown rice, pearled barley, whole oat groats, chicken fat, dried plain beet pulp, dried egg product, rice bran, ocean herring meal, catfish meal, ground whole flaxseed meal, chicken liver meal, dried porcine plasma, salmon meal, menhaden fish oil, dried carrots, dried celery, dried beets, dried parsley, dried lettuce, dried watercress, dried spinach, salt.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Robert B.
    #144678 Report Abuse

    I’ve got one more for you Robert which I’ll likely end up trying myself. Essence dog food’s new Limited ingredient line.

    Here’s their Landfowl Recipe:


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by hamish.
    #144684 Report Abuse
    Robert B

    Thanks…I know nothing about this brand, its track record other than it is owned by Pets Global Inc who makes Zignature which has been implicated second to Acana. Many of their “original” recipes are legume rich. These new formulas almost feel like a tactic in response to the recent news.While the ingredients do look promising, I will stick with the three that I am rotating on now.

    #144701 Report Abuse

    Fair enough. 4 of the 5 largest pet foods companies were implicated as well and Pets Global has never had a recall which I can’t say the same for the largest companies. This isn’t a facility quality issue. It’s an ingredients issue pure and simple. We’re all sitting here thinking, “I wish they’d make a formula with the same stuff and protein content as the grain free but replace the legumes with good grains,” and then when they do call it a tactic. Every company on your list makes a grain free option full of peas but they probably account for no more than .001% of the market combined which is more than likely the only reason they weren’t implicated in the FDA findings.

    #144703 Report Abuse
    Robert B

    Honestly, I am not certain if it is ingredients, processing or bioavailability issue. You are certainly right that nearly every company has jumped on the legume/tuber inclusive bandwagon. I like foods that have been sold for many years in leu of having controlled feeding trials. I also like companies with some background in veterinary nutrition. I agree that market share has a huge effect on rate. For now, I am sticking with Annamaet, Best Breed and Dr. Tim’s. Thanks for the dialogue (appreciated).

    #147131 Report Abuse

    For Robert B:

    For your list of 13 Australian Shepherd cases from the FDA’s 560 DCM-Diet case reports, here are the 3 you missed:

    1)Wegmans GF Nature Natural Dog Food Turkey & Pea
    *grocery brand, made for them by Ainsworth Pet Nutrition (now under Smuckers)

    Dried Peas, Tapioca, Pea Protein (Ingredients 3, 4, 5) . . . Pea Fiber (11)
    Also includes legume Alfalfa Meal (14) — + Flaxseed both boosting protein (7)

    2)Pure Balance GF Wild & Free (Unspecified Variety)
    *Walmart brand, made for them by Ainsworth Pet Nutrition (now under Smuckers)

    Formulas E.G. Salmon, Trout, Beef & Boar
    Dried Ground Peas, Tapioca, Pea Protein (Ingredients 3, 4, 5)
    Lentil Powder, Pea Protein . . . Dried Peas, Ground Potato Ingredients 3, 4 . . . 6, 7)
    Pea Starch . . . Chickpeas, Peas (Ingredients 3 . . . 6, 7)

    3)Taste Of the Wild GF High Prairie
    *Diamond’s own brand, manufactured by Diamond

    Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes . . . Potato Protein, Pea Protein
    (Ingredients 4, 5, 6 . . . 14, 15)

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by GSDsForever.
    #182685 Report Abuse
    Dudley S

    August 2021 Update


    #7. Skipping ahead to pages 23-26. The FDA points out that 93% of the Group One Partially and Fully Recovered cases ate grain-free foods before recovery,

    0% of cases were exposed to meat or poultry byproducts prior to recovery, and that

    94% of reported products contained peas and/or lentils in their top ingredients.

    The FDA report does not mention organ meats that may be used in grain-free diets.

    For Group One Fully Recovered, 96% of the reported recovery diets were grain-containing. 

    Those statistics are impressive and would cause anyone to decide to switch their dog’s diet. 

    What breeds had low taurine? #4. Page 11 regarding Group One Fully Recovered states: “All dogs that fully recovered received a diet change.

    Nearly all dogs were also treated with taurine and pimobendan.

    Over half of the dogs also received an ACE inhibitor, whereas additional treatments and supplements 

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