I’m curious as to why so many grain free foods are still rated so highly on recent lists with all the new study’s in heart disease?
Unless my dog has a true allergy to grain, why else would I want to avoid it?
Having a hard time finding a recommended food WITH grains now…
Also, how do you determine if they should be on a small breed version? I have 2 Boston’s and a Pug mix, all over 20 pounds… one article said dogs under 20 pounds, another says Boston’s are considered small breed… it’s all so confusing!!!
Because there is no definitive proof grain free is the main and only cause at this point.
The reason to avoid carbs (grains and potatoes, peas, etc) is because dogs are facilitative carnivores. Meaning they can eat a small amount of carb but it’s not really necessary. So meat based diets are the most healthy. Meat based foods will be rated higher on this site for that reason.
I would consider 20lbs+ over small breed requirements.
Some Boston’s are quite small and would fall into that category. I’m sure at the end of the day if you feed a proper diet “smallbreed” or not won’t matter much. Just feed the correct amount of calories for your dogs ideal weight and you’ll be fine. “Senior”, “small breed” , “healthy weight”, etc are gimmick words for the most part to charge high prices for a “special” food when in reality senior foods have such a small amount of glucosamine it’s not even close enough to be effective, small breed foods typically are just smaller kibble, and weight loss foods are foods where meat is taken out and replaced with a carb, not the best idea for a carnivore looking to loose weight lol.
I have fed grainfree foods for almost 20yrs. I thought it was the best. The DCM scares me. If you are on Facebook, join the group Taurine-Deficient (Nutritional) Dilated Cardiomyopathy. It is run by professionals and chock full of information. It is recommended to feed a grain inclusive food that follows WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association). Currently, the only foods that do that are Purina, Royal Canin, Eukanuba/Iams and Hills Science Diet.
I look at it this way: better to be safe than sorry. I don’t have to feed this food forever but I am until we know exactly what’s causing this.
Thank you so much for the info. This can be so overwhelming! Ideally, I would love to have all 3 dogs on the same food once the puppy is on adult food. He turns 1 in 3 weeks! (Time has flown!).
My one Boston is 9, and a rescue. He was found to have a grade 4/6 heart murmur shortly after we got him. Fortunately, the follow up echo showed no change 6 months later. He has gained a little weight, and we cut back his food and he doesn’t get a lot of treats. He is not a walker though, so I am having trouble getting him to lose a pound or 2.
I will definitely look for that facebook group!
This is our current favorite, they have other grain inclusive kibbles too. I was happy with the Classic Adult but one of my dogs seems to do better on a fish based food, also the Salmon A La Veg has small kibbles, easier to digest (imo)
Just add a splash of water and a bit of scrambled egg or something…
PS: Check with your vet, most vets approve of Fromm (in my experience)
Oh, and they have a small breed food https://www.gofromm.com/fromm-family-small-breed-adult-gold-food-for-dogs
No offense Anon but there have been quite a few dogs on Fromm developing DCM in that group alone. I personally wouldn’t feed it now, until we know more. JMO.
Kate, maybe look at the Pro Plan Bright Minds food for the 9yr old Boston. I have two of mine on their turkey. Hope to see you in the group.
Yeah, but I only feed the grain inclusive formulas and my vet supports my decision. That’s good enough for me.
Not everyone can get comfortable with “The Big Three” or Four being the only good foods out there, lol
II understand. You know this was hard for me to go with Pro Plan! Better safe than sorry. On,y you can make the decision. Is your vet up to date on DCM? Are you absolutely sure?
Yes, my vet says avoid small companies, new companies, grain free, boutique foods, stay with chicken and beef formulas if possible, avoid exotic ingredients (everything other than chicken or beef).
My allergy dog does better with a fish based kibble.
Larger companies that have been around a long time tend to have a veterinary nutritionist and do feeding trials.
Most of the brands you mentioned have GRAIN FREE formulas too.
If you take a closer look at those web sites you all recommend, Facebook and such, you will see that most of the dogs that are affected are Golden Retrievers, regardless of what food they are eating.
PS: Nothing wrong with Pro Plan, I just remember all the Purina recalls (Kibbles n Bits, etc.) so I’m more comfortable with Fromm.
Yes I know they all have grainfree; grain inclusive is recommended.
In that particular group alone, there are over 100 breeds affected by DCM. There is one breed with more than Golden’s. That’s just this one group on FB.
Well, I’m glad you find it helpful. I’m not on Facebook and do not consider them to be a reliable source of information.
That’s just me.
Hopefully we will get an update from the FDA in the near future and can make our decisions based on that.
In the meantime I will go by what my vet recommends.
Anon, I feel that vets have pushed Hills Science Diet on me in the past, and I didn’t like the ingredient list back then. I’ll have to see if they changed their recipe… I have a friend in Vet School right now, and it seems they are teaching more about Nutrition than ever before. But even she said a lot of places like Hills… I would probably only do that for a prescription diet at this point…
Huh? My vet recommends Fromm or Blue.
Both have grain inclusive formulas
Prescription food is different, once your dog has a medical condition your options are limited and it may be best to go with what is being recommended by the vet.
Anon,the group is run by veterinarians. One is Dr Stern from (if I remember correctly) UC Davis amd a other is Dr Lisa Freeman from Tufts. Both have been doing a lot of work on the DCM issue.
I’d say they, along with the other vets in the group, are, dry reliable.
There is also a spin off vet group and a spin off group for people who have lost their dogs to DCM.
Kate, I hope you’ve joined the FB group!
I agree Marie, both Dr. Stern and Freeman are very reliable and I appreciate all info they deliver to the FB group. Both Dr.’s have also been referenced frequently by the Skeptvet on his FB page and blog as well.
KIbbles & Bits is a Big Heart brand.
You don’t have to be in the DCM FB group to keep up with current DCM info. Just go to UC Davis or Tufts sites, or visit https://taurinedcm.org/ and encourage your Vet to do the same if they are still recommending Blue or Fromm. More importantly it’s not just GF diets. Also, at question is the lack of nutritional expertise in the people pet food companies employ to concoct their recipes. Fromm has no credentialed small animal nutritionist on staff. As of February 2019 they only employed one chemical engineer. Longevity of a company is only one thing to consider, Ol’ Roy has been around a long time too…
@ Bobby dog
Your information is incorrect, imo.
I listen to my vet first who has been practicing for over 30 years. Another vet I consulted also recommended and approved of Fromm and Blue, and yet another vet for my friend’s dog.
And yes they are current in their training and know all about the current research and FDA alert.
You can read Facebook blogs all day long that doesn’t mean that you know more than a vet that has actually examined your dogs and knows their history.
Have a nice day!
I am referencing research by Stern and Freeman (both Vets), not a FB page.
Doesn’t matter how long someone has been a Vet, just think of your opinion of holistic Vet’s…many have been in business 30 years or longer that you have disparaged on various sites. 😉
You have a nice day as well! 😉
Just curious what exactly constitutes a dog food brand being named a “boutique” food? Is it because they do not sell to the big food chains such as Petco/petsmart? Also how long should dog food manufacture be in business before they are not considered a “boutique” food hence being deemed unsafe to feed if anyone is concerned about their pet and DCM?
What happened if the answer is no to my questions above but do work with a nutrionalist in producing their food? Is it safe to feed then.
Stella Chewy’s statement:
Q: Who formulates your foods?
A: Our products are formulated under the guidance of a PhD animal nutritionist and reviewed thoroughly by our cooperating team of veterinarians.
It’s considered “boutique” if it’s not IAMS, Royal Canin, purina, or Hill’s. That’s the long short of it
C4C the two women are in the FB group (I can’t remember if you’re in that group)
Lol!, I’ve been a member of the Taurine-Deficient (Nutritional) Dilated Cardiomyopathy since early August. You probably found out about it from me!
It’s hard to keep us all straight.
I read your comments the other day on the site about how well one of your dogs is doing on Bright Mind. I gave you an upvote!
I like to keep spreading the word about this increasing concern with DCM and “boutique” type foods.
Could be how I found out! Thanks for the upvote!
Thanks for the info. It is looking very badly for grain free diets. I hope pet companies start changing their formula’s. There are too many grain free diets out there and very few grain in. Maybe if a lot of people start using grain in, it may force companies to change their recipes. If no one buys grain free they will have to change it.
I’m really anxious for answers to this. My Golden was just diagnosed with DCM and has eaten grain free Blue Buffalo Wilderness all his life. I have changed his food to a non-grain free food, but now I’m not sure what I picked is good enough. It’s paralyzing when you feel like you’ve already given your beloved dog a death sentence and you’re conditioned to think corn is “bad”.
And to anyone who thinks their dog is fine on grain free, mine was fine until he wasn’t. He passed a senior physical to have his teeth cleaned in October and this week he was diagnosed with advanced DCM. I know it didn’t happen that fast, but unless they develop a heart murmur or start gagging like mine did or faint, you’re probably not going to know it’s happening until it’s too late or nearly so. They seem fine until they aren’t with this. It’s why heart disease is considered a silent killer.
Check out this FB group:
Taurine-Deficient (Nutritional) Dilated Cardiomyopathy
It is a science-based group that is keeping up with the latest research on the increasing number of dogs being diagnosed with DCM due to their diets. They also have a support group for owners with dogs who have been diagnosed with it.
I’m sorry about your dog’s diagnosis. What food did you switch to?
I was so overwhelmed the day he was diagnosed I grabbed the chicken and brown rice Blue Buffalo non-grain free. But in looking at the label more closely after reading a ton, it still has several pea derivatives in it, though lower on the list than the grain free. I know they aren’t completely sure what mechanism is at work, but I’m wary of the legumes at this point. So I am thinking of switching again to Purina ProPlan SAVOR ADULT 7+ SHREDDED BLEND CHICKEN & RICE FORMULA.
My vet’s advice was just get him off grain free, but no specific suggestion otherwise. I read the UCDavis/Tufts recommendation to stick with Purina, Hills, Eukanuba or Royal Canin. Very hard to wrap my head around the idea of feeding what I thought last week was garbage and having it be a healthier choice.
I’m hoping with the food change and all the heart meds and supplements that it’ll buy us more time with him. He’s 11 and a half though, so I know that’s already borrowed time for a Golden.
I don’t have Facebook, but I’ve been reading the Q&A the admins put together on taurineDCM.org and it’s been very helpful.
PS, I’m trying to pick a food that is under 400 kcal/cup as he could already lose 3-5 pounds and now we’ve been told no walks other than potty breaks until further notice. But they don’t have a healthy weight senior one.
We have been pleased with Fromm and our vet approves. Here are some formulas you may like:
https://www.gofromm.com/fromm-family-reduced-activity-senior-gold-food-for-dogs (368 calories per cup)
https://www.gofromm.com/fromm-family-classic-mature-adult-dog-food (360 calories per cup)
https://www.gofromm.com/fromm-family-weight-management-gold-food-for-dogs (334 calories per cup)
I like the Blue Homestyle Chicken as a canned food/topper. It’s reasonable and I can find it at the local market.
Golden’s: you’re not the only person to go from what we thought was high quality to what we thought was garbage. I sent an email picture to a few people here to prove I brought Pro Plan! They, myself too, can’t believe I did it lol. I have my youngest on Pro Plan sensitive skin & stomach and my other two on Pro Plan Bright Minds turkey.
If you’re on fb, please join us in that group. There is so much information from professionals and other owners to help you. Good luck!
So, after reading up on the Taurine website, they really seem to believe in the big 3 (or 4). So when you go looking at any one of them, they offer dozens of different options. So how the heck to you whittle it down and decide on just one???
Lets just take Hills for example. They offer:
1. Advanced Fitness
2. Sensitive Stomack
3. Ideal Balance
4. Oral Care
5. Bioactive Recipe
6. Perfect Weight
7. Healthy Advantage
8. Healthy Mobility
It would be really nice to receive a little more direction than just Hills, Eukanuba, Royal Canin or Purina…
And YES, I understand some of the above would be for specific situations, such as to lose weight, or aging dogs with arthritis…
But from what I had read, the “Small Breed” formulas are mainly just smaller sized kibble. Nothing special otherwise…
I’m sure the vets on that site cannot make formula recommendations without actually examining your dog or consulting with a vet who has.
I switched my dogs to Purina ProPlan Focus Large Breed Adult Weight Management. Whew! Say that real fast. Lol!
What are you feeding now? I tried to find a kibble that had a similar analysis as what I was feeding. For example, calories, fat, and fiber. You could call or email whichever brand you choose for help choosing a formula.
I’m glad people are finding out about this and switching foods at least until the exact cause is found out. Good luck!
I would avoid the big 4. Hills just recently recalled all of their canned food after months of dogs dying and getting sick for overdosing on vitamin d. It was a contaminated vitamin pack a lot of companies got back in late 2018 and most of them recalled quickly before any adverse affects, hills however chose not to even tho they have supposedly the best “safety measures” of any dog food company.
Go for a food that is high in meat content, at least the first 3-5 ingredients should be meat or organs. The fda clearly states this “scare” is mainly related around dog foods that are mostly made up of pea. So lower end grain free foods. There are high meat foods on the market that are very good. Also ad canned food which is less processed and has less vegetable matter than kibble therefore will have more natural taurine present. Add chicken hearts or beef heart in with your dogs food as well. And plain chicken broth.
Taurine comes from whole fresh meat. Not grains. Not peas. Etc. I would focus on making your dogs diet as appropriate as a dogs should be. Meaning less than 30% carbs.
@haleycookie, it’s not a “scare”. My dog does not have long to live because of this and could drop dead in front of me with a heart attack at any time. If those vets on the front line of this issue are saying Big 4, I’ll feed Big 4 for a chance to have my baby with me even just a while longer. If it was happening to your dog, you might think differently.
Goldens, You mentioned your dog has been on wilderness for most of his life. Wilderness is a sub par pea based food. Unfortunately it isn’t a good food for a dog prone to heart and other health issues as it is(anything blue buffalo is really overpriced crud). I’ll stick with biologically appropriate foods and that’s also what I’ll recommend to others. Thanks.
You’re right, it’s not a scare.
Kate, I made the decision very quickly and went with Pro Plan. There’s something about Hills and Iams that I said no to….no real reason. No store close to me carried much for Royal Canin and Eukanuba and I didn’t want to wait to order. So….Pro Plan it was! I couldn’t believe I was buying one of these foods so I just went with Pro Plan.
Most of the dogs that are being diagnosed currently with diet-mediated DCM are NOT low in taurine. The issue isn’t quite as simple as adding taurine-rich supplements. Your recommendations are dangerous. There is something going on with how the BEG diets are being formulated. I can’t think of anything more heartless than to tell someone who has a dog diagnosed with DCM that it is due to feeding a subpar food.
So many people are feeling guilty as it is. And they should not! The companies making these foods are at fault! They are using untested ingredients being formulated by people who do not have the expertise to do so. Then marketing them like they are the best without doing any feeding trials. Our dogs are their guinea pigs and it’s not going well. They are not taking any responsibility. Shame on them!
I appreciate this thread and everyone’s continued input regarding the reality of this problem.
Goldens4ever, I am sorry to hear about your pup. Posts from people with affected dogs are particularly important as they help us all to accept the reality of the problem.
Just be aware that purina formulas have been implicated in DCM too, but these are not published or quickly deleted in the DCM groups. These dcm Facebook groups are over run with reps posting under the guise of regular pet owners and moderated by the big 4 reps. Also does anyone know who’s funding the tufts DCM studies?? One guess, it starts with a P. Please take anything you read on those groups with a massive pinch of salt.. They are nothing more than a big 4 cult.
Your take on on the Facebook DCM groups etc is about as plausible as the nonsense that the boutique pet store employee told me the other night. She said Purina is sending people out to identify pet owners whose dogs are eating “good foods” like they sell. Purina is then giving those dogs DCM to make it look like DCM is associated with “good foods” I said ‘You mean to tell me that Purina is responsible for killing hundreds of dogs by giving them DCM?” and she said “Yes! ”
Wow !! I was shocked! Unbelievable !! The stories people come up with never cease to amaze me.
Aimee, well yeah that story seem totally ridiculous, and is obviously made up crap.
When i was in the dcm groups, i saw members post that that they have dogs on Purina that have had DCM, posts AND members are instantly deleted. Members feeding raw/home cooked with DCM dogs, deleted. Anyone who dares mention all the other foods other than the big 4 are not welcome. I’m in many dog feeding forums and hear all the stories from previous members that were in the dcm groups, and the behaviour and scaremongering tactics that come out of those groups is pretty despicable. The absolute bottom line is to get people off of whatever they’re feeding and onto the big 4. Purina is a huge player and presence there, and a little bit of skepticism and critical thinking may help you take the blinders off.. I was a member for a few days and left in disgust and disappointment.
@christine v, I left the group I was in for the same reason. These groups are not considering anything but the big four which are all poor excuses for what a dog should be eating. I saw several posts about other types of diets that were all quickly reprimanded and disappeared. Quite sad really.
Hi Christine V,
I’ve been a member for month and have a very different experience. What I see is a very dedicated group of people who are committed to fact based material. On that basis, it wouldn’t surprise me if posts stating my dog has DCM from brand X are removed unless the poster providers verification of DCM .
I have read posts stating ‘My dog has DCM” in which the poster then describes a process unlike DCM,so iI think honest mistakes can be made. but I’m also open to the idea that some people may post inaccurate information on purpose. If the clerk from the boutique pet store I spoke to joined and posted that Purina is causing DCM I think the post should be pulled and she should be banned from further posting.
It wouldn’t surprise me if such people, once banned, would then move on to other sights and vent.
Eye’s wide open… no blinders on , critical thinking skills and healthy skepticism intake. I think the best we can do when feeding commercial foods is to feed foods with ingredients that are well tested and understood and from companies that have a long track record of having a vested interest in animal health.
Amazing what people will make up. Raw and home cooked feeders are deleted? BS. I am a member of that group and see people post about raw/homemade quite often. In fact, they have links in that group to help you find a nutritionist to formulate a raw or home cooked food for you. If you want to be blind to the information that is out there, fine. But what is the point of spreading lies?
Thanks for posting the truth Aimee and Sanne.
On the topic of “the big 4”, I think it’s important to go beyond the parent company and look at the ingredients on the bag to determine what food you should buy. Some product lines within a company are better than others. I don’t think you can rank Dog Chow the same as Pro Plan or Pedigree the same as Nutro.
Ingredients are important. 3 Chicken Formula Dry Food Ingredients Lists:
GROUND WHOLE GRAIN CORN, POULTRY BY-PRODUCT MEAL (SOURCE OF GLUCOSAMINE AND CHONDROITIN SULFATE), CORN GLUTEN MEAL, ANIMAL FAT (SOURCE OF OMEGA 6 FATTY ACIDS [PRESERVED WITH BHA & CITRIC ACID]), MEAT AND BONE MEAL (SOURCE OF CALCIUM), SOYBEAN MEAL, GROUND WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT, BREWERS RICE, NATURAL FLAVOR, CHICKEN BY-PRODUCT MEAL, DRIED PLAIN BEET PULP, SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, CHOLINE CHLORIDE, DRIED PEAS, ZINC SULFATE, DL-METHIONINE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, VITAMIN E SUPPLEMENT, NIACIN [VITAMIN B3], BIOTIN, DRIED CARROTS, L-TRYPTOPHAN, BHA & CITRIC ACID (A PRESERVATIVE), BLUE 2, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, d-CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE [SOURCE OF VITAMIN B5], RIBOFLAVIN SUPPLEMENT [VITAMIN B2], RED 40, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE [VITAMIN B6], COPPER SULFATE, SODIUM SELENITE, POTASSIUM IODIDE, VITAMIN A SUPPLEMENT, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], VITAMIN B12 SUPPLEMENT, VITAMIN D3 SUPPLEMENT, FOLIC ACID
Chicken, brewers rice, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), corn gluten meal, whole grain wheat, whole grain corn, oat meal, medium-chain triglyceride vegetable oil, pea fiber, dried egg product, natural flavor, fish oil, barley, fish meal (source of glucosamine), L-Arginine, mono and dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, Vitamin E supplement, potassium citrate, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, manganese sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, calcium pantothenate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, choline chloride, and sodium selenite
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, White Rice, Oatmeal, Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat, Menhaden Fish Meal, Flaxseed, Dried Whole Egg, Cheese, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Monocalcium Phosphate, DL-Methionine, L-Tryptophan, Taurine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Sodium Selenite, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Vitamins, Minerals, Probiotics.
So the first one is a mess of “poor quality” ingredients and artificial colors. I would give that food a hard pass every day. In fact, I know someone with a Lab who has fed this food for the dog’s entire life. This 10 year old has a lot of joint and mobility issues.
The second one has the dreaded by-product label (at least it’s poultry and not ‘meat’ ) and lots of grains. Fish meal can be found a ways down the list for a boost of glucosamine.
The third has chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients, a plus for sure… and then Barley, rice, more rice and oatmeal follow…not ideal.
Are any of these GREAT food choices?
Every single time I go to the pet store, I wander the aisles reading ingredients lists. All I see are legumes and potatoes. Are they causing DCM? There’s no concrete evidence one way or the other yet. Was the my dog doing fine on Chicken and Rice for the first few years of his life before I found this website and gasped at the low rating his food received? Absolutely. Did I switch the grain free after reading through these forums? Sure did. Has he done ok with switch, all these years later? Nope. He’s developed allergies and sensitivities. But is it because of grain free formulas? I haven’t found concrete evidence proving that x and y caused the issues.
It’s a learning process to find what works best for your dog. Some can’t have grains, some can. My vet suggests feeding him boiled chicken and white rice when he’s not feeling well. Is my vet stupid or just telling me what he knows from his 30+ years of experience might help my dog. Has he called grain free food evil? No, but he cautions against it only because the inclusion of legumes and potatoes are ‘relatively’ new to animal nutrition and there isn’t enough research and studies done to prove that they are safe in the long term.
He told me that he’s always given his dogs Pro Plan but have never pushed me to purchase any of the big 4 brands. In fact, he said the best thing I can do is read the ingredients list myself. And to transition food properly. And if my dog has issues after eating 1-2 bags of a food, to look at the current ingredients and find a food that’s different.
@sanne, perhaps you are in a different group? I did 100% see several people being told raw and home cooked diets are not a balanced and can still cause dcm just like grain free (which btw hasn’t even been proven yet so…) and they were quickly told to switch to proplan or hills becuase that’s “proper nutrition” and formulated by a nutritionalist.
There were no such link or information you speak of when I was a part of the group. Just non stop bashing of quality foods and raw-home cooked diets. Perhaps they’ve changed their ways now to not be so narrow minded.
- This reply was modified 1 week ago by haleycookie.
I have been a member of the group for about 9 months. They actually had a raw feeder as a moderator for a while and there still might be another. They recommend if you feed raw or homemade to work with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. And, they have a list of them to contact.
They don’t bash any foods. They just ask that no one recommend a brand that is not in compliance with the WSAVA recommendations. It’s all spelled out and you have to agree to these terms to join.
Yes, there have been dogs diagnosed with nutritional mediated DCM that were raw fed.
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