Grain-Free Diets and Heart Disease

You may have heard about the recent FDA investigation into heart disease and grain-free pet foods.  I wanted to clear up some misinformation and help our clients understand what’s really going on.  Most importantly, I don’t want anyone to be overly concerned if their brand of dog or cat food was listed or to think that their pet is safe if it wasn’t.

The FDA has been investigating a possible link between grain-free pet foods and a type of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).  The investigation is still underway, and they aren’t sure what is causing the increase in DCM cases as of yet.  Until they know more, they have been updating the public via their website periodically.

From the information they have so far, grain-free diets were being fed in 91% of the cases that were reported to them, so they are considering that as a possibility.  Without grains, pet food manufacturers have had to use other ingredients to get the nutrients as well as the consistency of dry dog food.  Some of the more common ingredients were peas, lentils, and potatoes (including sweet potatoes).  There is a possibility that those may be the source of the problem, but again, they aren’t certain.

DCM is not an extremely rare disease to begin with.  Many of the cases that were reported to the FDA were likely not related to any diet.  Since the FDA only started receiving so many reports after they first announced the investigation, it’s hard to know how much change there has truly been.  Their concern is the fact that it is occurring more in breeds not usually prone to it.

We are monitoring the investigation and will continue to keep our clients informed.  Meanwhile, let me explain that we do not believe a grain-free diet is necessary for most pets.  While some pets can be sensitive to grains, the majority of food allergies are to the protein sources in food such as chicken or beef.  So, if your pet does not need to be on a grain-free diet and you’re concerned about this possible link, you may consider switching foods.  As always, remember to switch foods gradually so as not to upset your pet’s stomach with a sudden change.

I also wanted to note some confusion in recent news reports.  Many reports have stated that the FDA “named 16 dog food brands with an increased risk” of this disease.  The truth is that those were the top 16 brands they came across in the investigation.  That may be due to the fact that they are some of the most popular brands of grain-free pet foods on the market.  They also listed proteins by frequency, and salmon came up far more frequently than goat.  That does not mean goat is better for your dog or cat’s heart; it just means that it’s a rare protein source for pet foods.

If you have any concerns about your own pet, please call us. 

If you’d like to find out more, you can see the recent reports on the FDA’s website at:  https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/cvm-updates/fda-provides-third-status-report-investigation-potential-connection-between-certain-diets-and-cases?utm_campaign=6-27-2019%20DCM%20Update&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

KC Animal Hospital Staff

Author KC Animal Hospital Staff

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