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We recently reported that several expensive brands of dog food could potentially cause heart disease in your furry friends. Now, other brands have come to light for possibly increasing the risk of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.
The FDA’s investigation has found several common factors in the implicated pet foods:
In July 2018, the FDA announced that it had begun investigating reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods, many labeled as “grain-free,” which contained a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as main ingredients (listed within the first 10 ingredients in the ingredient list, before vitamins and minerals). Many of these case reports included breeds of dogs not previously known to have a genetic predisposition to the disease. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, continue to investigate this potential association. 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.
We understand the concern that pet owners have about these reports: the illnesses can be severe, even fatal, and many cases report eating “grain-free” labeled pet food. The FDA is using a range of science-based investigative tools as it strives to learn more about this emergence of DCM and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients.
Following an update in February 2019 that covered investigative activities through November 30, 2018, this is the FDA’s third public report on the status of this investigation. (source)
- They’re grain free
- Many contained legumes, seeds, and potatoes
- Many contained peas and lentils
So even if those ingredients have previously been deemed safe for dogs, you may want to avoid them.
The brands and the potentially linked deaths
Below, find the brands that were most commonly named in the DCM report along with the number of canine deaths.
- 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)
It’s important to note that most of these are extremely high-quality, expensive pet foods, going for as much as $80 a bag. The ingredients are wholesome – but, they may not be good for dogs.
Canine deaths from DCM
Between 2014 and 2018, 524 cases of canine DCM and 9 of feline DCM were reported to the FDA. Out of those pets, 119 died of the heart disease. The FDA hasn’t asked for companies to recall the pet foods, but has suggested that the companies “make informed decisions about the marketing and formulation of their products.”
The FDA’s investigation is ongoing, and the recommend that pet owners seek their veterinarian’s advice regarding the best food for their furry friends.
Here’s what some of the pet food companies had to say
The Daily Mail (yeah, I know, it’s a tabloid, etc., but this is some good reporting) reached out to several of the companies named for statements.
Champion Petfoods, which owns Acana and Orijen, told DailyMail.com that the FDA update proves ‘no causative scientific link between DCM and our products, ingredients, or grain-free diets as a whole.’
‘Our hearts go out to every pet and Pet Lover who have been impacted by DCM. We take this very seriously and will continue to work internally and with other industry leaders on research into the cause of DCM in order to help Pet Lovers understand the facts,’ the company added.
Zignature shared a statement on its website in light of the investigation, disputing any correlation between its pet food and DCM.
‘In parallel with the FDA investigation, our own third-party internal studies found no link between our high-quality pet food products and any of the other physical characteristics that correlate to DCM,’ Zignature said.
The Pet Food Institute, which represents 98 percent of pet food and treat makers – released a statement on the probe on its website saying they consulted with nutritionists, product safety experts, and veterinarians for more than a year to try and determine a link between diet and DCM.
‘This is a complex issue with many factors requiring scientific evaluations,’ the group’s president and CEO Dana Brooks said in a statement.
‘We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods,’ FDA veterinary director Dr. Steven M Solomon said. (source)
What can you do to make sure what you’re feeding your dogs is safe?
As I wrote in my previous article, it seems like every other bite you feed a dog has the risk of being tainted or toxic. What’s a loving dog owner to do? What brand is safe?
Personally, I’m not sure any brand is safe. I’ve been feeding my own dogs a homemade recipe ever since the recall that reported euthanasia drugs in numerous brands of dog food and never plan to feed them a commercial brand again.
Here are some links to dog food recipes. I urge you to research thoroughly before making your own dog food so you can be certain your pet is getting the nutrients she needs.
The MSPC-Angell Animal Medical Center has recipes for dogs of various sizes, as well as a recipe for cats. There’s another vet-approved recipe at Founders Veterinary Clinic.
When you search the net you’ll see dozens of recipes, but I strongly recommend sticking with one of the vet-recommended ones, at least for the ideal supplements. There are lots of good-tasting (to dogs) doggy vitamins out there on the market but be sure to check out the reviews before making your selection. I also add Udo’s Fish Oil caps to my dogs’ dinner. You should always talk to your vet before changing your dog’s diet dramatically.
If you are going to avoid legumes in your homemade dog food due to the information above, the following are some foods you need to leave out:
- Beans (including green beans)
- Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo beans)
- Peanuts (including peanut butter)
Here’s a comprehensive list of legumes. The other thing to note is that potatoes are potentially linked, as are grain-free diets.
Are you changing your dog’s diet?
Have these studies caused you to rethink what you’re feeding your dogs? Let us know in the comments below.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. She lives in the mountains of Virginia with her family. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.