I was hoping the powers that be at this forum might comment on this article: Veterinarians are increasingly concerned about health risks posed by the grain-free pet-food craze.
A paper on the issue, released last month in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, offers similar caution: “Pet food marketing has outpaced the science, and owners are not always making healthy, science-based decisions even though they want to do the best for their pets.”
Hi Patti, I have been following this to. I feel as though grain in diets been around for a long time and pose no threat to dogs, unless they have an unusually allergy. I was never a fan of grain free diets from the beginning, I don’t feed comfortable in feeding legumes to a dog. Legumes contain certain properties that prohibit minerals and nutrients that they need. Furthermore it is so far from a Canines diet anyway. Tried and true is the way to go. And yes some dogs are really allergic to the protein not the grains. If your dog is okay with grains than I would just feed a grain in diet until this is under control. I know this is frustrating to a lot of people, but going back to the old school ways may make people understand that grains are not bad, unless of course a dog has an allergy. As far as gluten free goes that is just a gimmick, most dogs do NOT have celiac disease. I have read that people that don’t have celiac disease should not eat gluten free, because gluten is good for you it has nutrients that you need. OF course if you have celiac you should avoid gluten. We all have to educate our selves because companies will do what ever sells.
Also, I forgot to mention about exotic meats, be careful with them as well. These diets have not been around long enough to know how they will work. Do your research and choose wisely, don’t depend on marketing and hear say. There is a thread about canine heart disease that people have talked about. Look through diet and health and you will find the thread.
I’ve been reading more on this topic.
Apparently, grain-free diets can leave a dog with a taurine deficiency which can lead to Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM.
Currently, I’m feeding my dog Merrick Limited Ingredient Turkey, which is grain-free.
I’m going to follow the recommendation of Tuft’s Veterinary Hospital, and reconsider my dog’s diet. They say: “If you’re feeding a boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diets, I would reassess whether you could change to a diet with more typical ingredients made by a company with a long track record of producing good quality diets.”
I think I’m going to switch to FreshPet Select Tender Chicken With Vegetables and Brown Rice.
If you’d like to read it, here’s the article from Tufts:
Hi Patti S-
Here is a link that may be of interest to you. It includes the article that you shared along with others. You may also consider joining their FB page. There are many knowledgeable vets as admins, including Joshua Stern, the cardiologist from U Davis who recently released study results on the subject.
I’m glad you are changing food. I also took mine off grain free and am now feeding Purina kibble with various toppers. Good luck!
Thank you for that link. I wish they would have named brand names for foods to consider. It would have made the job of finding a diet easier!
I’ve always fed my dogs foods with a “5 Star” rating from dog food advisor, thinking I was doing what was best for them. One of my dogs died two years ago from a cardiac condition, I’m absolutely mortified that the diet I chose for him may have contributed to his death.
See you on Facebook!
When all this news on taurine broke the other day, I wrote to Merrick, the manufacturer of the current dog food I’ve been using. They just got back to me, here is their response to my question of whether or not their canned dog food (Grain-free Turkey) has appropriate levels of taurine:
“Thank you for reaching out to us with your concern. We will be happy to tell you that all of our diets contain appropriate levels of cysteine and methionine, the amino acids that dogs use to make their own taurine. As the FDA continues to explore a possible link between diet and taurine deficiency, which is one potential cause of DCM, we have started supplementing taurine in all of our dry dog food recipes. The safety and quality of our pet food is our #1 priority, and we commit to working with the industry and FDA to help understand this potential issue. If you have any other questions please let us know.”
Good to know!
Hi Patti S-
Did you join the FB group? There are over 21,000 members now. Wow! Might be tough to take in all the info. Let me know if you have any questions. I joined it early on when it was easier to navigate!
It’s mind boggling to find a good quality dog food without lentils, peas, or potatoes! This health scare is sure going to shake up the dog food industry!
For the here and now (after a ton of reading) and just to be on the safe side, I’m going to rotate from canned Merrick Limited ingredient Turkey (which is grain-free), to canned Merrick Grain Free 96% (either chicken or beef). No potato, lentils, seeds, or starches made from those questionable ingredients, and still AAFCO approved for all life stages, and a 5 star rating here at dogfood advisor.
I’ve been on a crazy food journey with my dog. When I first adopted him 9 years ago, the kill shelter that I got him from tole me that he was full grown (40 pounds). That was far from the truth as he’s currently 120 pounds. My vet suggested Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy for two years, followed by Pro Plan Large Breed Adult. My dog always had issues though with loose stools and itchy skin/biting paws/ear infections. I transitioned him to Blue Buffalo Large Breed Fish kibble and he did really well. Then I read about grain free and how it was so much better, so I came to this site to find the best foods. I read all these comments regarding Blue Buffalo and quickly started to look at their ” 5 star rated grain free” foods.
I’ve tried them all.
I’ve given each of them at least 6 months with proper transitioning. I always had issues. I’d go to the vet, he’d tell me to go off of the grain free and go back to Purina. But I can read the bag myself and it doesn’t look healthy at all. Blood results were normal. I’ve tried different proteins (chicken seemed to cause more issues). TOTW, Nutro, Instinct, Merrick, Solid Gold, Fromms, the list goes long.
I can’t even say that it has anything to do with grain free. Only, he’s been off it for a few months now and he’s eating right, has firm stools, and no skin issues. I’m at a loss. I explicitly chose foods from the 5 star list and now his food is rated 3.5 stars and he’s doing well, but I feel guilty giving him something perceived as ‘not good’.
@Patti_S – I do like the 96% single protein canned foods. I rotate using them as a topper with some canned salmon.
When I got my rescue Cocker Spaniel she was a mess – ear infections due to neglect, her improperly cropped tail ( looks like a done at home job…yikes) was swollen and split in two actually. She had bouts of rubbing her butt on the floor due to what think was an itch..
Long story short a Vet suggested perhaps some of the issues was due to a food allergy. I immediately jumped on the grain free train and the one I picked happened to be salmon based and lower in protein ( for a 7 year old dog). Her conditions did seem to improve.
The other day at a great new vet the doctor told me how much she was AGAINST grain free dog food as it can cause heart issues and she stated that usually a dog’s food allergy is due to the type of protein vs the grain.
It makes perfect sense to me and if you think about dog’s wild cousins (Wolves and Coyotes) they all eat some amount of grain…if they catch a rabbit or deer or mouse usually the prey has some grain in it’s stomach…right? This tells me a dog’s digestive system is probably geared to eating some amount of grain..perhaps not massive amounts though.
This differs greatly from say a cow which developed solely from grass eaters. There was not massive corn fields or wheat fields growing across the plains of Europe or America when cows were bred to what we have today and I have heard that the cattle industry is the single largest user of what is basically Tums to settle the cow’s upset stomach when it is forced to eat corn to fatten up.
All said and done I suspect my pup’s allergy was the protein vs the grain. I have switched to a regular salmon based dog food and she seems just fine and dandy. I will repost if her allergy returns.
Hope this helps a bit!
perhaps read my post to Patti. You mention the fish kibble seems to work best..maybe it is the protein? I assume the others you tried had protein other than fish – such as the chicken you mention or beef which is common?
My gal seems to do equally well on either grain free or regular salmon based food. beef seems the worst for her. Due to the concerns regarding “grain free” I am trying the regular salmon based food.
Also – I have learned that only a small percentage of dog allergies are food based with the majority being caused by environmental triggers just like humans. Grasses, pollen and even dust triggers reactions in effected dogs.
I hope your issue is easily resolved and hey a 3.5 star food isn’t necessarily bad. The reviewers tend to place emphasis on protein content etc…and frankly I try to have a lower but high quality protein percentage so as to avoid kidney issues later in life.
Solid Gold has a great Salmon based dry kibble but since the protein is only 21% it has a lower rating. Just food for thought. ( and btw I am not pushing a certain brand…I used to stand by Solid Gold but haven’t checked…they may be sold out to some super large corp now? And I do realize marketing image is always in play)
Thanks for your feedback.
I too have had dogs who didn’t do as well with a 5 star food. Every dog is an individual, and what’s terrific for one dog, may not be as great for another.
I’m about half way through the transition from Merrick Grain Free Turkey (canned) to Canidae All Life Stages Chicken (also canned), with no adverse reactions.
I supplement with PetKind Green Tripe & Red Meat dry food. It contains lentils, chick pea, peas & pea starch, and sweet potato, but they are way down in the ingredient list, so they aren’t the main component of the diet.
Anyone know of a decent dry food that’s completely free of those suspect ingredients?
- This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Patti S.
All of Farmina’s foods are free of those ingredients. Good food made with at least 90% animal protein. Annamaet grain inclusive foods do not have any of those ingredients either. I also like Purina Beyond grain inclusive foods, which are also free of all those ingredients.
Here is the latest from the FDA on the ongoing investigation into the ever increasing number of dogs and cats being diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy due to their diet:
Home » FDA asks pet food industry for DCM-related information
PET FOOD NEWS / PET FOOD INGREDIENTS / PET FOOD SAFETY
BY DEBBIE PHILLIPS-DONALDSON ON FEBRUARY 14, 2019
FDA asks pet food industry for DCM-related information
FDA needs pet food producers to report on any changes in ingredients, processing or formulation.
In its ongoing investigation into atypical cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) possibly related to grain-free pet food ingredients, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking the industry for information related to changes in ingredients, processing or formulation.
David Edwards, Ph.D., an officer with FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM)’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance, presented an updated on the agency’s DCM investigation during the American Feed Industry Association’s 12th Annual Pet Food Conference, held February 12 in conjunction with the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
What FDA needs from pet food industry
Specifically, Edwards said, CVM needs information from pet food producers relative to the timeframe when most of the new cases of DCM were reported over the past few years, but mainly during 2018. He asked for input on changes in ingredients used, sourcing of ingredients, processing or formulation.
He also asked that pet food companies, academic programs and organizations such as the Pet Food Institute continue their own investigations on any potential issues with formulas and ingredients possibly related to this DCM situation.
Wide range of dogs reported among DCM cases
Through November 30, 2018, CVM had recorded 290 cases of DCM involving 325 dogs (plus a few cats) and 74 pet deaths, Edwards reported. The cases occurred from 2014 through 2018, but most were in 2018. He also presented demographic information showing a wide range of affected pets. For example, the most frequently reported dog breed was Golden Retrievers, with 61 dogs affected, while another 27 were mixed-breed and 25 were Labrador Retrievers. Other breeds with numbers in the double digits included Great Danes at 16 and Australian Shepherds at 11; Edwards listed 15 other breeds with three to nine dogs affected each.
Related to the variety of breeds affected, the dogs’ weight ranged from 8 to 212 pounds, with a mean of 68 pounds. They ranged in age from 0.42 to 16 years, with a mean of 6.5 years; 59 percent were male, 41 percent female.
Among the cats affected, ages ranged from 0.4 to 12 years; the mean was 5.5 years old. Their weight ranged from 7 to 13 pounds, with a mean of 11 pounds. The cats were 60 percent male, 40 percent female.
Dog foods and ingredients in DCM reports
Edwards also presented data on the types of dog foods and their ingredients in the reported DCM cases. The foods were predominantly dry (269 of the reports), with four raw and one each of wet and semi-moist. In 14 reports, multiple formulations were named; in five others, the foods were unknown.
Then Edwards provided a deeper dive into the formulations and ingredients for 196 of the reports, in which the affected dogs were fed a single, primary dog food:
About 90 percent of the diets were labeled grain free;
Of the other 10 percent of the foods, some were labeled vegan or vegetarian, while some contained brown rice;
A large proportion of the foods contained peas or lentils high on the ingredients list. In fact, peas appeared in 180 of the dog foods named in these 196 reports and lentils in 104 of the foods. Other ingredients presented by Edwards included potatoes, in 63 of the diets, plus sweet potatoes and chickpeas, each in 55 of the diets.
Edwards said that, before FDA issued its alert about these cases of DCM in July 2018, the agency had investigated for contaminants such as metals or improper levels of minerals and other nutrients in the cases reported to date. After the alert came out, FDA then bought some of the products named in the reports and tested them specifically for those same factors, among other things. All the tests before and after the alert were negative.
FDA is continuing its investigation, working with scientists and nutritionists in the Veterinary Laboratory and Investigation Response Network (Vet-LIRN), and also with veterinary cardiologists. The investigation has included nutritional and amino acid analyses of the foods reported and complete health histories of many of the dogs, Edwards said.
Based on the information gathered as part of our investigation to date, our advice to pet owners remains consistent. The agency has not identified specific recommendations about diet changes for dogs who are not displaying DCM symptoms, but encourages pet owners to consult directly with their veterinarians for their animal’s dietary advice. FDA-CVM investigative activities include:
Analyzing cases statistically to search for correlations between diagnosed DCM cases and what those dogs did or did not eat.
Working with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to test blood, serum and tissues from affected animals.
Collaborating with Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates (CVCA) to collect case summaries and blood/serum/tissue of dogs diagnosed with DCM to see if there are unique factors that separate diet-associated DCM from genetic. The FDA is also reviewing echocardiograms of dogs who are not showing symptoms of DCM to evaluate the significance of early changes in heart function.
Consulting with board certified veterinarians in animal nutrition to identify nutritional factors such as nutrient bioavailability and ingredient digestibility that may contribute to the development of heart disease.
Examining ingredient sourcing/processing and product formulation with pet food manufacturers.
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