Food and Diet, General Pet Information

Grain Free Diets – Things to Know

The FDA is currently investigating potential associations between canine heart disease and grain-free dog food diets. Here’s what you should know about the ongoing investigation and canine heart disease.

Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA has received over 500 reports of canine heart disease or canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) most of which came after the first public alert last July. The total number of pets affected is greater because some reports included multi-pet households.

According to Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the American Kennel Club, the FDA began investigating grain-free diets after receiving reports of DCM in dogs that had been eating these diets for a period of months to years. Dr. Klein claims, “DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because the disease occurred in breeds of dogs not typically prone to the disease.”

DCM is a type of heart disease that affects the heart muscle itself; it decreases the heart’s ability to pump blood often resulting in congestive heart failure. Some breeds, especially large dog breeds, have a genetic predisposition to the disease such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands and Irish Wolf Hounds. The reports submitted to the FDA include several breeds that do not have a known predisposition to the disease including Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Bulldogs, which raised concern for the FDA. The common thread between the reports is all the dogs consistently ate grain alternatives in their diets.

In the recently updated FDA report on canine heart disease and diet, they examined labels of dog food products reported in cases to determine if they are indeed grain-free. The report states that more than 90% of food reported in DCM cases were grain-free. The report also contains the names of dog food brands that were named 10 times or more in the cases.

As Dr. Klein states, “At this point in time there is no proof that these ingredients are the cause of the DCM appearing in a broader range of dogs, but owners should be aware of the alert from the FDA.” Overall, the best thing you can do for your pet’s dietary health is to consult your veterinarian. Together you can determine what diet is best for your dog’s needs and monitor your dog for signs of DCM if necessary.

All information gathered from the American Kennel Club

To read the full FDA report, click here


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