In an ongoing investigation conducted by the FDA, a correlation between grain-free dog foods and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) has been found. The study began in November 2018, with an update in February 2019, and the latest update in June 2019. The latest update contained a list of pet food brands that patients in the study consumed.
• This study noted a correlation between diet and DCM, not causation
• More than 90% of DCM cases reported were eating grain-free food
• 93% of all reported diets contained peas and/or lentils
• No correlation was found regarding protein source
• General cardiac reports submitted to the FDA that did not have the diagnosis of DCM were not included in the study
• Brands listed in the latest update were associated with ten or more cases of DCM and may represent a more widely distributed product
• Ingredients were more significant than brand, and the FDA urges pet owners to work with their veterinarian to find the right food
Until more is understood about the causes of Nutritional DCM:
• Educate yourself! Consult with your veterinarian
o You can also consult with a veterinary nutritionist – https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/petfoodology/
• Check the ingredient list on your current food!
o It should have no more than 1 pulse overall, and it should NOT be in the first five ingredients.
• Follow WSAVA Guidelines: Feed food from producers that
o Employ a veterinary nutritionist
o Control their own production lines
o Conduct AAFCO food trials
• Most food produced by Purina, Hills Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Eukanuba meet the WSAVA guidelines.
Know the Signs of DCM
• Decreased energy
• Difficult breathing
• Episodes of collapse
• Exercise intolerance
• Severe lethargy
DCM can cause sudden death! If your pet is showing any signs listed above, give us a call to schedule a comprehensive physical examination with one of our doctors.
DCM can develop without displaying symptoms for years!
If you have been feeding one of the “BEG” food diets and your pet is not showing any signs there are things you can do.
- Slowly transition your pet to a new food. Most food produced by Purina, Hills Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Eukanuba meet the WSAVA guidelines.
- Schedule a comprehensive physical examination with our doctor, bring your pet food label and information on all food and treats.
- Blood testing may indicate the early stages of heart disease.
- Radiographs can show subtle changes to the heart.
- A full echocardiogram can be used to diagnose DCM.
What To Do:
When switching foods, do so slowly over 2-3 weeks!
- Day 1: 100% old food
- Day 2-5: ¾ old food ¼ new food
- Day 6-9 ½ old food ½ new food
- Day 10-13 ¼ old food ¾ new food
- Day 14 100% new food
- If at any point your dog does not tolerate the new food (starts to get loose stools or vomiting), back up to the previous step and extend the duration of that step by another 4-5 days.
What We Recommend:
Switching to a balanced diet including grains.
We prefer to consider each unique pet before making nutritional recommendations, but in general, our doctors and staff feed and recommend:
Pet foods by the three main companies that have veterinary nutritionists formulating a balanced diet (Purina, Hill’s and Royal Canin.)
- Purina Beyond Simple 9
- Purina Pro Plan or Purina One
- Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin
- Hill’s Healthy Advantage Oral Plus
- Royal Canin
Our goal, as always, is to promote healthy pets and happy families. This includes being an advocate for your pet in every area of medicine, including nutrition. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 719-528-1693.