Grain Free Diets and Recent Health Scares

Recently the FDA released an article warning about grain free diets being connected to dogs with heart disease. Here is the link to that article if you have not read it yet: https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/cvmupdates/ucm613305.htm

If you don’t want to read the whole article, it stated; “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease.” They also state “Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. 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.” In other question and answer article from the FDA they make this statement “At this time, it is not clear what it is about these diets that may be connected to DCM in dogs. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a potential cause of DCM, but it is not the only cause of DCM. Nutritional makeup of the main ingredients or how dogs process them, main ingredient sourcing, processing, amount used, or other factors could be involved.”

Last week we did a poll on Facebook to try and see what percentage of the public feed grain free. Our poll just ended yesterday. We found that 57% of the people who voted feed grain free. We also know that the majority of them have chosen that food because their dogs have allergies. So, with the recent warning from the FDA about grain free foods being linked to Heart Failure in dogs and more than 50% of our clients feeding grain free, we definitely needed to write this blog. 

With that said, we don’t want our clients panicking and switching foods immediately. After all, many of our clients who have switched to grain free, have noticed improvements in their dogs after making the change.

And frankly, there is not enough research done to have the right answers, not yet at least.

While we know many of our clients love the grain free food they feed their dogs, we actually do not recommend grain free diets to the majority of our clients. Yes, some dogs with allergies improve after being switched to a grain free food but we recommend having your dog allergy tested to find out exactly what foods your dog is reacting to.

So, what should you do if you feed a grain free diet?

  1. Is your dog having any issues right now? Symptoms like coughing, shortness of breathe, lack of energy? If so, then please call us (or your local veterinarian) at (906) 485-6145 and set up an appointment to have your dog looked at, to make sure something more serious isn’t going on.
  2. If your dog is healthy and doing great on grain free, then at this time we would recommend adding a Taurine supplement to your dogs food. The best one we found at this time is VetriScience Cardio Strength for dogs and cats. This product comes in 90count bottles. They are large capsules and you can open the capsule to sprinkle the contents over their food. You are directed to give one capsule for every 30 lbs. If you give more than one capsule per day, they recommend splitting the dose between morning and evening.           You can order this product from Chewy.com for about $16.00/ bottle. Here is the direct link to that product: https://www.chewy.com/vetriscience-cardio-strength/dp/54812
  3. If your dog isn’t on a grain free food, you should still take a look at the ingredients and make sure legumes aren’t one of the main ingredients. If they are, then you might want to give us a call and we can find out if adding a supplement is needed for your dog.

While the investigation and research continues, the FDA is asking pet owners and veterinary professionals to report any cases of DCM that could be linked to their diet by going to: https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov/SRP2/en/Home.aspx?sid=58172169-e5d7-4aa8-92ec-eaa75ae082f9

We know that this recent warning from the FDA is pretty scary for pet owners who are feeding grain free diets. We are here for you though. Please don’t hesitate to call us and ask questions. 906-485-6145 We are more than happy to help you figure out your pets nutritional needs!