by Kevin Erickson, DVM
Last week the FDA released an update on their investigation into over 500 cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. Although some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to this condition, the FDA has been exploring a possible link between feeding certain diets and an increased risk of heart disease in non-genetically predisposed breeds. The diets being investigated are primarily “grain-free” foods that often contained “legumes such as peas and lentils.”
While the FDA is still trying to determine why this is happening, they have listed sixteen pet food brands most frequently identified in their investigation. Dr. Steven Solomon, director of the FDA’s center for Veterinary Medicine, empathized with the public. “We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods.”
He further states, “Ongoing work in this area is a top priority for the FDA, and as our investigation unfolds and we learn more about this issue, we will make additional updates to the public. In the meantime, because we have not yet determined the nature of this potential link, we continue to encourage consumers to work closely with their veterinarians to select the best diet for their pets’ need.”
The doctors and staff at Kulshan Veterinary Hospital could not agree more with Dr. Solomon’s recommendation. Appropriate nutrition is critical to the health of your pet and many factors play into choosing the right food. That is why it is important to discuss your pet’s dietary and nutritional needs with us on a regular basis.
As a rule, we recommend Science Diet, Royal Canin and Purina’s Pro Plan line. The biggest reason behind this support is that these companies not only formulate their diets to meet the pet’s nutritional needs, but also do feeding trials to make certain that the pet is able to absorb the needed nutrients. Just because a nutrient is in food does not guarantee that your pet can absorb it. It is also important to realize that nutritional excesses can be just as problematic as deficiencies so a proper balance is crucial.
There is still a lot of investigative work that needs to be done before we will know the connection between these diets and the increased incidence of heart disease. As the investigation continues, it would be well worth speaking to us about whether a “grain-free” diet or particular brand is the best choice for maximizing your pet’s overall health.
For more information related to this investigation, check out these links:
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) – KVH
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) – Washington State University
Is there anything to reverse or treat the outcomes the food is having on the pet? So devastating. My dog eats one of these brands from Costco and now is experiences heart problems.
We’re so sorry, that is devestating. Outcomes and treatments are going to vary on a case by case basis. The best thing to do will be to discuss specific recommendations for your dog with their doctor.