Grain-Free Diets Linked to Heart Disease in Dogs?
As you may have heard, several news stories have been released concerning grain free diets being linked to a severe form of heart disease in dogs, specifically dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). To simplify what happens with this disease–think a big, floppy heart that is unable to pump blood efficiently to the body.
This rising concern has been due to veterinary cardiologists diagnosing more cases of DCM than usual and in dog breeds or mixes that are not already known to be at risk for DCM. All of these dogs have had one common link–a grain-free diet. These diets have mostly consisted of legume (peas, lentils, etc.) and exotic meat-based foods. Fortunately, these dog have been shown to recover with proper treatment and a diet change.
There have been enough cases reported by cardiologists that the FDA is now investigating the matter. However, we do not yet have enough information to confidently say whether or not a grain-free diet is the cause of DCM in these dogs. Although the FDA is seeing a trend, more research needs to be completed before determining if there is a cause and effect.
What we recommend:
1. Be aware that not all dog food companies are created equally. We recommned dog food from companies with a strong background in research, nutrition, and quality control.
2. If you are feeding a grain-free diet and your dog is otherwise healthy and has no grain allergy, the current recommendation is to switch to a high quality diet that is not grain-free. Grains are extremely well tolerated in many dogs and can contribute to important nutritional needs. Dr. Dowden recommends looking for food with brown rice as its grain.
Any questions regarding grains in the diet, allergy concerns, or low-carb vs high-carb concerns can be directed to us via a phone call or a scheduled appointment.
3. If you are seeing signs of heart disease (i.e. cough, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, etc.) please contact us to schedule an exam to further assess your animal as soon as possible.
Written by Adrienne Taylor DVM from
The Paw Patch Place Animal Hospital
For more information, you may find these links helpful:
UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine
Lisa Freeman, Veterinary Nutritionist