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What’s this about Grain Free diets causing heart disease in dogs??

As you may have heard, in June 2018 Tufts University released a study which indicated certain types of diets may be increasing dogs’ risk for heart disease. We still have a lot of research to do, but this is what we know right now:

• Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disorder where the heart muscle becomes thin and weak. Then the heart can no longer pump blood efficiently and often results in congestive heart failure and death. Certain breeds like Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers are more genetically predisposed to the problem.

• There has been an increase in rates of DCM in dogs, not only in breeds predisposed to the condition, but also in breeds that do not typically develop DCM.

• Taurine is an essential amino acid that, when deficient, can lead to Dilated Cardiomyopathy. However, most of the dogs reported to the FDA who died from DCM had normal Taurine levels. The current emphasis is to find the exact link between DCM and diet.

• One theory is that the grain free (GF) diets contain something that is either limiting the availability of Taurine to the body, or blocking a pathway involving Taurine and therefore causing the DCM. However, more research is needed.

• There may be a genetic component to the dogs developing DCM while on GF diets, but that has not yet been proven.

So what should I do now?

Avoid grain free diets unless your pet has a medical condition (like a diagnosed food allergy) that requires that particular diet. The same goes for exotic proteins like duck, venison, kangaroo, etc. More research is needed to see how these proteins affect our pets.

Stick with the big name pet food companies (Hill’s, Royal Canin, Purina Proplan.) Supporting the small boutique pet food company may seem like a good thing to do, but unfortunately they do not have the resources the large manufacturers do, and as a result have inferior and inconsistent nutrients and quality control. Large manufacturers have veterinary nutritionists on staff and solid quality control and diet trial protocols to help ensure your pet’s nutrition.

Above all, talk to your veterinarian. If you are unsure about your pet’s nutritional needs or have any questions, give us a call. We will be happy to answer them for you!

We care about you and your pets, and our goal is to provide the best information for you so we can make good decisions together.

~Your friends at Westridge Veterinary Hospital