Dog Food Brands Linked to Heart Disease

Dog Food Brands Linked to Heart Disease


At this time, White Rock Veterinary Hospital recommends that you do NOT feed your pet a grain-free diet until more research is done.

In June 2019, the US FDA publicly identified the pet food brands most frequently associated with cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a serious and potentially fatal heart disease. The agency has been investigating the problem since last year.

Dog Food Brands Named Most Frequently in DCM Cases Reported to FDA. Graph shows the dog food brands most frequently named in reports of DCM submitted to FDA. Acana 67; Zignature 64; Taste of the Wild 53; 4Health 32; Earthborn Holistic 32; Blue Buffalo 31; Nature’s Domain 29; Fromm 24; Merrick 16; California Natural 15; Natural Balance 15; Orijen 12; Nature’s Variety 11; NutriSource 10; Nutro 10; Rachael Ray Nutrish 10 

90% of the foods implicated are labeled as “grain-free” meaning that they do not contain corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley, or other grains. 93% of the diets contain, as the main ingredients, peas, lentils, other legume seeds (known as pulses), and/or potatoes. The cause of the problem is unknown and the FDA cannot say with certainty that diet is the culprit. The potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex issue that may involve multiple factors

DCM is a condition resulting in an enlarged, weak heart that cannot pump blood efficiently. Dogs with DCM may tire easily, cough, and have trouble breathing. More dramatically, they might exhibit sudden weakness, collapse, faint, or die without warning. Particular dog breeds are known to be genetically predisposed to DCM, including Dobermans, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Cocker Spaniels. Many of the dogs affected are not of these breeds.

DCM Reports to FDA - Most frequently reported dog breeds. Graph shows number of DCM reports for the most frequently reported dog breeds. Golden Retriever 95; Mixed 62; Labrador Retriever 47; Great Dane 25; Pit Bull 23; German Shepherd Dog 19; Doberman Pinscher 15; Australian Shepherd 13; Unknown 13; Boxer 11; Mastiff 8; German Short-haired Pointer 7; Shetland Sheepdog 7; Weimaraner 7; American Bulldog 6; American Cocker Spaniel 6; Standard Poodle 6; Bulldog 5; Shih Tzu 5 

There has been no research to show that grain-free is a superior or healthier diet for dogs. The grains in pet foods provide nutrients and are not just fillers. The starches in grains are highly digestible. Also, true food allergies are rare and protein sources are much more common offenders than the carbohydrate source.


For more information about the FDA’s investigation click here.

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