Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) & Grain Free Foods

In July of 2018, the FDA released a statement* in which they warned pet consumers about the possible link between grain free dry dog food, taurine deficiency and recent incidences of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. DCM is a heart muscle disease that causes the dog’s heart to become enlarged. It is a relatively uncommon condition in dogs with the exception of a few genetically predisposed breeds, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, Doberman Pinschers, and Cocker Spaniels.

Is Grain Free Kibble Bad for Your Pet?

  • There is no conclusive evidence of a connection between grain free foods and the condition of DCM, but the FDA is suggesting that the number of legumes used in grain free dry dog foods could be inhibiting some dogs’ ability to naturally synthesize taurine from the meats in the food.

How Does This Affect You?

  • If your dog is currently consuming a grain free dry food diet, you may be misled to purchase foods with grains as a counter measure to this possibility. However, grains do not provide taurine to your pet’s body or enable a dog to further synthesize taurine. Rather, they can lead to other health issues in some dogs if consumed too much.
  • “Grain Free” has become a popular marketing term in the pet food industry, but “grain free” does NOT equal low-starch. ALL dry dog foods (grained or grain free) contain starches because they are required in order to hold the baked pieces together. The important thing to look for when choosing your dog’s food is a meat-first and meat-focused food with a low-starch content. Adding grains back into your pet’s diet will not necessarily improve his health or safeguard against DCM.

What Can You Do to Help Your Pet?

  • Feed fresh, unprocessed low starch foods, such as Steve’s Real Raw Food, Primal raw food, Stella & Chewy’s Raw Food, Honest Kitchen’s Dehydrated Foods, or Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Nuggets. Dogs thrive on a fresh, meat-based diet with the appropriate vitamins and minerals provided in the proper ratios. These diets provide the nutrients our dogs require in a highly bioavailable form.
  • Think about ways to increase the meat content and decrease the starch in their food. Eliminate starchy treats, offer fresh eggs, or add water-packed sardines to their meals. Your pets will benefit from the addition of fresh food, moisture and biologically appropriate protein offered at meal times or as snacks.




*FDA Statement: https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/cvmupdates/ucm613305.htm

* This sheet is for basic technical information only.  We encourage you to continue your own research on these subjects.

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