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In The News
Grain-Free Diets - What you need to know.
The FDA is currently investigating more than 500 reports that appear to link dog foods marketed as "grain free" to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The FDA has been warning about the foods based on peas, lentils or potatoes along with a Taurine deficiency also found in pets eating "grain-free" diets.
What is dilated cardiomyopathy? DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle that results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, which can lead to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen (congestive heart failure). If caught early, heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification.
Heart failure is a known issue for larger breeds of dogs, such as Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Saint Bernards. While DCM is less common in medium and small breeds, English and American Cocker Spaniels are also predisposed to this condition. The breeds most frequently reported to the FDA for the heart disease were Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus. But recently the condition started showing up in smaller breeds such as Springer spaniels and Beagles, which is what caught the attention of veterinarians and eventually the FDA.
While the vast majority of cases have been in dogs, there have also been some cases in cats.
One of the big problems with DCM is that dogs don’t show symptoms of the disease — lethargy, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath — until they’re very sick.
Most of the reports were associated with dry dog food formulations from 16 different manufacturers, but raw food, semi-moist food and wet foods were included. The FDA has not suggested owners change their pets’ diets.
Veterinary cardiologists suggests pet owners switch to a brand produced by a company with a long-standing history, such as Hills, Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina, and Eukanuba.
The 16 current grain-free brands linked to DCM:
Taste of the Wild
Rachael Ray Nutrish
If a dog is showing any symptoms of the heart condition, including decreased energy, cough or difficulty breathing, the FDA urges owners to contact a vet as soon as possible.
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