At one point grain-free was considered the way to go for a healthy pet diet. So it makes sense why a lot of pet parents were concerned about the FDA’s announcement regarding the potential links between canine heart disease and grain-free dog food diets. At this time, this is an ongoing investigation, but here are a few things you should know.
Canine heart disease (specifically canine dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM) is not rare in dogs. However, the FDA started receiving reports of DCM in dog breeds that were not typically prone to the disease. They found that these dogs had been eating grain-free dog foods containing legumes, legume seeds, or potatoes for months to years.
As DCM affects the heart muscle, dogs with this condition have a lowered ability to pump blood which often leads to congestive heart failure. Large and giant breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Irish Wolfhounds and Saint Bernards are traditionally more prone to this disease. The reports submitted to the FDA included breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labs, and Shih Tzus, breeds that, historically, have not had a predisposition to this condition. This is what alerted the FDA.
What does this mean for pet parents? At this time, there is no proof that the ingredients found in grain-free dog foods (peas, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, or beans) are the direct cause of DCM. However, pet owners should be aware of the FDA alert and keep watch as they work with veterinarians to better understand the potential effect of grain-free diets on dogs.
As a rule of thumb, if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s diet, consult your veterinarian.
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