Is my dog’s grain-free food good for him?

The FDA recently released an article on the possible linkage between grain-free diets and the heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This information has been an appropriate cause for concern among pet owners. The article describes the research findings of 524 cases of DCM reported to the FDA over a roughly 5-year period, in which one of the commonly shared characteristics was the feeding of a grain-free diet. More specifically, the two factors being more closely reviewed are the presence of legumes as an ingredient (peas, lentils, etc.) and sufficient levels of the amino acid taurine or its precursors. The release of this information and the listing of specific brands of food has prompted the question, “Is the pet food I buy harming my pet?”

The answer to this question is best provided by your veterinarian. Dilated cardiomyopathy has historically been most commonly thought of as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Irish Wolfhounds. It’s also seen in Cocker Spaniels and is associated with taurine deficiency. Generally, it’s believed to be less common in small and medium-sized breeds. The article itself is inconclusive, and the FDA is continuing to investigate any linkages between grain-free diets and the development of DCM in dogs and cats. As the article itself states, “Based on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.”

CityVet takes the FDA’s announcement seriously and is committed to providing its clients with the information they need to be confident in their selection of food their pet(s). We believe that good nutrition is a foundation for good health, and that, generally, meat-based diets are superior to high-grain or carbohydrate-rich diets for most dogs. Any questions regarding your pet’s diet should be discussed with your veterinarian to determine what’s best for your pet(s).