First many thanks for all your work on this site. As our beloved Luck (a King Charles mix) approaches 10 years old we wanted to find the very best Senior Dog Food using unbiased ratings. So thank you for helping us with this. However I noted that the first three or four senior foods were “Grain Free” and I was amazed to see many Grain Free foods recommended or given four or five stars. Our Vet has pretty much “outlawed” grain free (full disclosure she markets Hills SD foods). And in 2019 the FDA issued warnings about the risk of a grain free diet.
Please see this article in the Atlantic- or google the FDA website regarding this. The Pet Food industry has worked hard to down play the risks- but they are there and real. Please reconsider recommending grain free. They should be avoided by breeds like out Lucy’s who are at risk of heart problems.haleycookieMember
The fda actually recommends staying on whatever food you feed as there is little to no real research done yet. It’s been over a year and still crickets on what is actually the cause. It’s also only been reported in a few hundred dogs. Hundred. Not thousand, million, etc. now let’s compare that to the rate of cancer and diabetes in dogs and ask why those diseases aren’t being looked into a little more.
I’ll be sticking with low carb high meat foods. Which usually are grain free.crazy4catsMember
The FDA actually recommends talking to your vet about your dogs diet with any questions who may consult with a board certified veterinary nutritionist. Howard’s vet recommends steering clear of grain free foods!
There have been no new numbers released since July 2019. So who knows how many new cases there have been?
I am playing it safe and only feeding foods that have been through feeding trials and are formulated by a team of experts. For me, it is either Iams or Purina dry and wet for our dogs and Royal Canin or Purina for our cats.
Check out this site for more information: https://taurinedcm.org/
They are also associated with a very informative FB group, if interested.Patricia AMember
crazy4cats there are many other foods you can feed maybe even in rotation which have PH.D ventanarian nutrionalists formulate their foods . Haley is correct in stating more dogs die from cancer and diabetes then DCM. This is a statement from WSAVA “While feeding trials help to test for the food’s nutritional adequacy, the use of feeding trials does not guarantee that the food provides adequate nutrition under all conditions.”crazy4catsMember
I am aware that feeding rials could not guarantee adequate nutrition under all conditions. If a dog has a medical condition, they may need a prescription food or a food without certain ingredients they may have a sensitivity to, etc.
I do not feed WSAVA compliant brands just because of the increase of diet-related DCM. I will continue to feed them even if and when they find the reason behind the increase of this terrible condition. I feel they have been around for a long time and do their due diligence to make sure the foods they are selling are complete and balanced. No need to rotate with other brands. I am sticking with what most veterinarians recommend. I think they have a lot more education, knowledge and experience through all of their patients than we do. Thank you, though.aimeeMember
Food ratings on this site are based solely on label information. There is an inherent flaw in rating foods this way and this is addressed in various articles on the site. I agree that at this time, there is very real and very concerning information regarding diets of certain types. Until more is known, I’d agree with your veterinarian that it is best to avoid feeding suspect diets/ingredients and instead feed diets with well tested and understood ingredients.
Because diabetes in dogs is not diet related, except perhaps in relation to fat contributing to pancreatitis, and cancer has not been linked to any particular diet type it is immaterial that more dogs have been diagnosed with those conditions than diet related DCM.
Currently a lot is unknown and it may be years before diet related DCM is understood. In some ways the current DCM situation parallels the vaping situation. With vaping there is a correlation to presence of Vit E acetate in the vaping product, in diet related DCM there is a correlation to certain ingredients and grain free diets. In both situations other factors may also be in play and the definitive cause isn’t yet known.
As of Jan 21, 2020, according to the CDC, 60 deaths have occurred. Total number of death from DCM is unknown as mandatory reporting isn’t in place but certainly exceeds 60.
Some people may say only 60 people have died, vaping has been popular for decades and there is no reason not to vape. Others will find the risk of death from a product without any benefit unacceptable. The diets associated with DCM have no clear benefit and appear to carry a risk of death. Stores are taking the initiative to ban products. Veterinarians , to use your word “outlawed” grain free.
People will still vape and people still feed grain free because they evaluate risks differently.
I stick with companies that have demonstrated a vested interest in the nutritional health of all dogs through their continued feeding and monitoring of dogs in their diet research centers and contributions to nutritional research . Consulting with a veterinary nutritionist for a diet formulation or passing a feeding trial is not enough in my opinion.joanne lMember
I talked to two of my neighbors that had dogs go to the vet because of coughing and their vets said it was heart related, and ask them what they were feeding. They were feeding grain free. So their vets said stop the grain free and they did and now the dogs are not coughing any more and they are fine. So I think there is something to the grain free diets. What are the odds that I heard that by two neighbors. And who knows how many more we don’t know about. I agree that any dog food can cause problems, but I am curious about this DCM and grain free. Furthermore, even in the wild peas and legumes are definitely not in a wolfs diet, very far fetched. But grains in a wolfs diet is possible and or more likely.
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by joanne l.
Hi, I work in a pet store and lots of my customers have had concerns with DCM. Therefore I have done plenty of research on it to help out these customers and for my pets sake as well. It is a topic that I am very knowledgeable. I recommend reading the whole FDA article or at least skimming through it. There are two documents, one is all the cases and one is the FDA’s study. The results are inconclusive at the moment and many brands are working together with the FDA to further investigate.
From reading it I can tell that there are many factors that the FDA left out like affordability (who can afford the vet bills for these tests? What food are they feeding if they can afford? Are they feeding a more expensive kibble or a cheap one at Walmart?), genetics (what breeds are more likely to have which diseases? How many of this species is in the USA (out of 77 million dogs), metabolism (how can a dog digest a kibble diet compared to dehydrated, canned, freeze dried, or raw? How bioavailable is taurine in kibble?), what diets were these dogs on (a majority were on kibble only, some had a mixture, I think 1 or 2 were on raw, and couple had dehydrated foods).
In the end, out of the 500 some cases of dogs with DCM a huge section were fed kibble only diets. So, if anything I would link it more so as a kibble problem than a grain free vs with grains. With the research I have done looking at scholar articles, brand studies (of course always reading between the lines because brands what to do a study to help their brands cause), blogs, and websites, I have noticed that grains cause more inflammation in dogs than peas as they are not as easy for dogs to digest. They force the organs to work a little bit harder. If you notice too, no raw diets (at least that I have come across) have grains in them, only fruits and vegetable, and meat.
There are many other diseases like cancer, liver problems, kidney disease, and pancreatitis that are a lot more common than DCM. DCM affects a small amount of dogs (less than 600 out of 77 million dogs in the US). But if you do decide to feed grains. Please watch out for smelly ears, itching, and hot spots. As grains, along with chicken, are a very common allergy in dogs (since they are put into a lot of foods due to their low cost).
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