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Warning: Grain Free Pet Food Could Be Harming Your Dog!

February 21, 2019
Warning: Grain Free Pet Food Could Be Harming Your Dog!

Grain-free pet food has gained popularity in recent years, popping up in pet stores and online retailers across the country. However, the grain-free diet has also been popping up in FDA reports recently as well. 

Why is the FDA interested in grain-free dog food?

Grain-free dog food has become a recent focus of the FDA due to an alarming increase in Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in canine patients. Of the more than 500 reports of DCM cases brought to the FDA’s attention, the vast majority of pets were eating a dry diet; 91% of the diets were listed as grain-free, and 93% of those grain-free diets contained peas and/or lentils. 

The FDA's July 2019 Update on Diet and Canine Heart Disease included a list of dog food brands that had been submitted to the FDA 10 or more times.

  • Acana (67 reports)
  • Zignature (64 reports)
  • Taste of the Wild (53 reports)
  • 4Health (32 reports)
  • Earthborn Holistic (32 reports)
  • Blue Buffalo (31 reports)
  • Nature’s Domain (29 reports)
  • Fromm (24 reports)
  • Merrick (16 reports)
  • California Natural (15 reports)
  • Natural Balance (15 reports)
  • Orijen (12 reports)
  • Nature’s Variety (10 reports)
  • Nutrisource (10 reports)
  • Nutro (10 reports)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish (10 reports)

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM for short is a disease of the heart muscle that is characterized by an enlargement of the heart. This enlargement of the muscle leads to improper or poor functioning of the heart.

The primary symptoms of DCM include:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty breathing
  • panting
  • coughing 
  • decreased appetite 
  • sudden collapse

Dilated Cardiomyopathy requires a veterinarian and certain medical tests to confirm a diagnosis and rule out other diseases. Typical medical tests can include radiographic imaging and an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) for a definitive diagnosis. The echocardiogram will also provide in-depth information regarding the current state of the pet's heart.

Should I feed a grain-free diet to my dog?

The FDA report emphasizes "that although there appears to be an association between DCM and Grain-Free diets, the relationship has not yet been proven, and other factors may be equally or more important. The FDA encourages pet owners to report cases of dogs and cats with DCM that they suspect to be linked to diet by using the Safety Reporting Portal

The best option for your pet's health is to consult with a veterinarian to determine their nutritional needs. This may not be an option available to every pet owner, and in that case, it may be best to steer clear of grain-free diets and instead, choose a high-quality age-appropriate food.

For more pet nutritional advice and information visit the Tufts University pet nutrition blog https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/petfoodology/

To make an apointment for a nutrition consult with one of our veterinarians please visit www.universityvetcare.com/pet-portal 

Also watch our most recent Pet advice video about Grain Free pet food. www.universityvetcare.com/pet-advice

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