Update on diet-associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Over the past few years, increasing evidence has been published linking a heart condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy with specific diets. The FDA recently announced reports of dogs eating foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as their main ingredients causing Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dog breeds that are not predisposed to this condition.
- Initially, the link between these certain diets and dilated cardiomyopathy was thought to be related to the low taurine levels in these diets- taurine is an amino acid vital to cardiac health. However, cardiologists are finding two groups of dogs with diet-related DCM- those with low taurine levels that respond to supplementation, and those that are associated with a currently unknown dietary factor. It could be that these foods contain an ingredient that is toxic to the heart. The FDA is studying as many samples as they can so they can reach an answer as soon as possible. It is also likely that the cause is a complex mix of several factors.
- It is also important to realize that it is not just grain-free foods that are being implicated in these studies. The current term being used is “BEG” foods- this stands for “boutique companies,” “exotic ingredients,” and “grain-free.”
- Raw or home-cooked diets are not safe alternatives. Dogs eating these diets have been implicated in the diet-associated DCM studies as well.
We Recommend a Commercial Pet Food by Well-Established Brand
Overall, we recommend feeding your pet a commercial pet food made by a well-established brand. Contrary to popular belief, there are no known health benefits of ‘grain-free’ foods except in the case of a rare food allergy. Animal proteins more commonly cause food allergies in pets (for example, corn is responsible for less than 5% of food allergy cases in pets).
The four pet food manufacturers we recommend are:
3. Royal Canin
All of these companies have the following criteria:
1. They have board-certified veterinary nutritionists on staff
2. They conduct nutrition research
3. They perform feeding trials on ALL of their foods – this is the most important!