FDA Update on Grain-free Diets and Heart Disease in Dogs

The FDA has released a new update about the ongoing investigation into dogs developing the dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a serious heart disease, which appears to be associated with the use of grain-free or exotic protein diets. The agency has received reports of 560 dogs and 14 cats with DCM, and of these 199 dogs and 5 cats have died from the condition.

The agency has also released a list of all the diets being fed to these pets:

Brands reported fed in at least 10 reported cases of DCM: 

The specific relationship between diet and DCM in these cases is not yet understood, so it is impossible to say if the food is a primary cause of DCM and, if so, how this is happening. However, the common thread among the diets involved seems to be the use of legumes or pulses (e.g. peas, lentils) in place of grains in the diet.

While many of the diets contain common protein sources (e.g. chicken and lamb), a surprisingly high proportion have unusual and uncommon meats as their main protein source. Again, the significance of this is not yet clear.

There is a concentration of cases among golden retrievers, though dogs of many other breeds have been affected as well.

Further data collection and research will be necessary to determine the precise relationship between diet and DCM in these cases. There are likely multiple factors involved, including the ingredients in the diet, the genetics or particular breeds and individuals, and others we may not yet know about. Pet owners feeding these diets don’t need to panic, since far more dogs on these diets do NOT have DCM than do. However, if you are feeding one of these foods, or a diet similar in composition, and especially if you are feeding this to a golden retriever, it would be a good idea to talk to your vet about screening your pet for DCM and considering a change in diet.

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51 Responses to FDA Update on Grain-free Diets and Heart Disease in Dogs

  1. misty ellis says:

    My golden was on Costco grain free chicken and peas. Diagnosed with DCM three years ago. I made the switch to RC and with supplements we’ve extended her life this far. It is more expensive, of course I only have one so she’s worth it. The chart does not reflect the truth in my opinion. I loved being able to purchase dog food through Costco but unfortunately now we’ve found out the ingredients (peas,legumes) are not beneficial for our fur babies.

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