A Grain-Free Diet May Be Bad for Your Dog’s Heart…

Grain free dog food - a cautious tale
Read before you feed…..

Contrary to what you hear…grain free dog food may not be the healthiest choice for your beloved dog. I found this out recently when I got an alert from my veterinarian about the risks of grain free and boutique canine diets. My dog’s vet highly recommended switching off a grain free/boutique diet to help minimize the risks to my pet’s health.  This immediately got my attention and I started doing some research and wanted to share the information with as many pet owners as possible.

Background on Issues with Grain Free Diets
Selecting a healthy food for your dog isn’t as easy as you might expect. In the last few years there has been a lot of marketing promoting the benefits of grain free diets which contain peas, lentils, other legumes or potatoes as their main ingredients. Today, almost 70% of dog foods on the shelves are grain free.

About two years ago, veterinarian cardiologists noticed a trend in issues with heart disease for dogs. They reported a link between grain free foods and a type of canine heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) – where the heart becomes enlarged and doesn’t pump blood properly.

The Culprit – Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
This disease can result in cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure and sudden death. The veterinarians were seeing a new form of DCM in dogs and breeds that were not commonly associated with this problem. The belief is that the grain free diets are missing some essential nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy heart muscle. In recent years there have been more and more cases of dilated cardiomyopathy DCM in dogs.

Current Situation
After it received reports of DCM in dogs that had been eating these diets for a period of months to years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started an investigation into the matter in July 2018. The FDA and veterinary cardiologist continue to work hard to determine all the dietary factors that are contributing to DCM.

If this condition is caught early, appropriate veterinary treatment and changes to diet can improve heart function and improve your dog’s health.

What to do if you are feeding a Grain free or boutique diet:
According to the FDA, the American Kennel Club and many other sources, the best thing you can do for your dog’s dietary health is to consult your veterinarian. Together you can evaluate the pros and cons of your dog’s diet and if necessary monitor your dog for signs of DCM.  You can also report a case of DCM related to a specific diet to the FDA via their Safety Reporting Portal.             

Additional information can be found at:

A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients

It’s not just grain-free: An update on diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy

Grain-Free food Q and A’s

FDA Provides Update on Investigation into Potential Connection Between Certain Diets and Cases of Canine Heart Disease

What Dog Owners Need to Know About the FDA’s Grain-Free Diet Alert

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