The DCM Dilemma - We're Here to Help

FDA Continues Investigation into Potential Link between Dog Food and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

 On June 27th the FDA released a report about their ongoing investigation into the potential link between certain dog foods and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This report suggests that dogs that eat foods containing peas, legumes, lentils, and potatoes as main ingredients are susceptible to this condition. Many of the foods that contain these ingredients are labeled as "grain-free." Since this report was posted, it has been rapidly circulated in the pet community and has caused some concern for pet parents.

According to the FDA, the underlying cause of DCM is not exactly known. However, there is believed to be a genetic component. There are certain breeds that are more prone to this condition but there have been other breeds as well that have been affected. This has caused them to believe there must be another potential cause – food. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. Between January 2014 and April 2019 there have been 516 reports of canine DCM affecting 560 dogs. In relation to the number of pet dogs in the US, this is only 0.00073%. 

The link between grain-free food and DCM is still non conclusive. The dogs that have been affected do not have one common factor. Of the reported cases, the dogs ate both grain-free and grain containing foods including both vegetarian and vegan formulas. It also includes different forms of food including kibble, canned, raw, and home-cooked. Therefore, it is hard to pin-point a specific brand, manufacturer, or type of food that is ultimately causing DCM. 

Researchers found that 90% of the reported recipes of food were grain-free. However, the prevalence of grain-free dog foods in the FDA’s list of brands can be related to the growing popularity of these types of diets over the last few years. It is also important to note that some dogs affected were consuming diets that contain grain. Because of this is it hard to say that it is grain-free food exclusively that leads to DCM. 

The results of this study are still inconclusive, and it remains an ongoing investigation. With all of the new information regarding this topic coming out, it may seem a bit overwhelming and you may feel a bit lost about the best course of action to take. We don’t want anyone to be worried about their pets, and we want what’s best for them.

 Dog Food Advisor provided some helpful hints regarding the situation:

  1. If you are not sure if a grain-free diet is right for your dog, consider trying a quality diet with grain. Many brands with grain-free formulas also provide diets with grains.
  2. Don’t avoid a food just because it contains peas, legumes, and potatoes in reasonable amounts. Studies have found that these ingredients are not toxic.
  3. Focus on the recipe, not the brand. Many companies carry a diverse product line with a variety of recipes. Don’t count out an entire brand before exploring other options. 

As always, it is best to consult your veterinarian with any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health and diet.

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