What Dog Owners Need to Know About the FDA's Grain-Free Diet Alert

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The FDA launched an investigation into potential links between canine heart disease and grain-free diets.

What is the FDA Investigating? Our dog's health is important to us, and we all know a good diet may have a positive impact on our dog's overall health and well-being. Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the AKC, shared his thoughts on the investigation into grain free dog foods.

“The FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and dogs eating certain grain-free pet foods. The foods of concern are those containing legumes such as peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes listed as primary ingredients. The FDA began investigating this matter after it received reports of DCM in dogs that had been eating these diets for a period of months to years. DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because the disease occurred in breeds of dogs not typically prone to the disease.”

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy? Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle. Dogs with DCM have hearts that have a decreased ability to pump blood, which may result in congestive heart failure.

Some large and giant breeds have a predisposition to DCM. These breeds include Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Saint Bernards. While DCM is less common in medium and small breeds, English and American Cocker Spaniels are also predisposed to this condition.

When early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicated that recent, atypical cases in breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus all consistently ate grain alternatives in their diets, the FDA took notice.

Should you be Concerned About Grain-Free Diets? According to Dr. Klein, “At this time, there is no proof that these ingredients are the cause of DCM in a broader range of dogs, but dog owners should be aware of this alert from the FDA. The FDA continues to work with veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the effect, if any, of grain-free diets on dogs.”

While the Internet has some helpful information, it's probably best to start researching your dog's dietary health with your veterinarian. From there, you may seek a certified animal nutritionist and then follow up by doing research on the Internet. Weigh the pros and cons of your dog’s diet and if necessary monitor your dog for signs of DCM.

Original article - What Dog Owners Need to Know About the FDA's Grain-Free Diet Alert https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-fdas-grain-free-diet-alert/
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