Veterinary cardiologists and the FDA are warning pet owners about a possible link between grain-free boutique dog food brands and an increased risk of canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a serious heart disease that can lead to congestive heart failure. Young dogs that started eating a grain-free boutique diet as a puppy seem to be at greatest risk.
The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert in July 2018, notifying pet owners and veterinarians of the reports. According to the alert, DCM was being diagnosed in dogs with grain-free diets “containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients.”
“High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as ‘grain-free,’ but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM,” wrote the FDA.
The FDA is still investigating the link at this time. More than 250 cases of DCM with a potential link to diet have been recorded, with increasing frequency, and at least 24 dogs have died from the condition. Despite these numbers, no dog foods have been recalled.
With DCM, the dog’s heart becomes weak, unable to properly pump blood. The heart enlarges to compensate, but as the heart’s ability to pump deteriorates, fluid can build up in the lungs, causing coughing or shortness of breath.
At this time, the doctors at Hilton Animal Hospital recommend that all our dog owners reevaluate the food that they are feeding. Our recommendation is that dogs should eat a diet that was formulated by a certified animal nutritionist (DVM-DACVN or PHD in Animal Nutrition). We urge caution when feeding a grain-free or boutique diet made with exotic protein sources and rich in legumes (chickpeas, peas or lentils); unless it is an approved prescription diet. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
We strongly caution against feeding boutique diets that have not been formulated by qualified animal nutritionists.