WARNING: 16 PREMIUM Dog Food Brands Linked to Deadly Heart Disease

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

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:

  • Asparagus
  • Beans (including green beans)
  • Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo beans)
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts (including peanut butter)
  • Peas

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.

About Daisy

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 FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • My pit bull has been on Nutro all her life. She will be 16 in November. Where did you ghet your facts?

    • From the FDA, as it mentions several times in the article. I’m glad your dog is thriving – I love that breed. 🙂

  • Lost a puppy to dog food that came from what should have been a safe source during 2006 Chinese food being sold under an American name.

    Here we are again with tainted food for our animals. When are the owners going to stop buying the trash that they sell us as safe food for our pets & charging us high prices which brings a false sense of security?

  • The nightmare just continues! I fed my dogs Orijen ($98 a bag, in California) for years, switched to Pinnacle ($60 a bag). It is salmon-quinoa-pumpkin formula. Last week at the vet, I brought up what I feed. She is totally against grain free diets! So, I got an email from her with the FDA recall (https://www.fda.gov/media/128303/download) info. She recommends Purina and Royal Canin.(Huh? Cheap dog foods.) I supplement green beans, carrots, apples, white rice, and some people food like leftover chicken or steak. My 2 cockers seem to be very healthy. Since this seems to be all dog breeds, many dog food brands; I’m not sure that it is food causing this. So frustrating! A cocker blog that I read (https://fidoseofreality.com) recommends Dr. Harvey’s (https://www.drharveys.com/products/dogs/1-canine-health-miracle-dog-food). I might give that a try. I feel like the Geico gecko: “I’m doing my best!”

    • It seems like the trouble ingredients are legumes (so all beans or nuts) and a lack of grains. It’s so stressful, isn’t it?

    • “She recommends Purina and Royal Canin.(Huh? Cheap dog foods.)”

      Lobbyists. They have their mitts in nearly all products, to pave the road for “their” goods to reach the consumers.

  • Sometimes I think we over-think some things. I make my own dog food now because I have 2 small dogs & I strive to be as self-sufficient as possible. However I have raised many dogs who have lived into their teens on plain old Pedigree from the grocery store. My grandfather would have fallen out of his chair at the idea of actually buying food for dogs. He lived on a farm & the dogs got whatever was left from the dinner table (and probably what they hunted in the woods!) I don’t recommend that but I also refuse to examine each bite that my dogs consume. And my dogs love peanut butter.

  • This is so upsetting. I have had pets my whole life, and my last dog, who was my dearest friend, passed away in December. I always fed him “super premium” dog food, many on this list. I ultimately had to feed my last boy prescription food (Science Diet) and I knew it had junk ingredients but he enjoyed it in his final months. There was even a recall on that food after he passed. So disappointing.

    I always had cats too and they ate supermarket brand food and Friskies. I tried to feed them premium food after I grew up, got my first real job and got settled in my career and thankfully could afford it. They refused. Friskies forever. They lived to be 18, 16 and 14 and were outdoor cats.

    I’m so thankful for my pets and all the years of friendship and unconditional love they gave. The vet bills were a burden as they got older but thankfully we could take care of them. I do know that we will be getting pet insurance for our family’s next puppy. As for food, I’m not sure…

  • When the first FDA warning came out, I switched mine from Taste of the Wild and Nature’s Domain to Pro Plan Savor. I was skeptical, but honestly mine look just as good, if not better, and have more energy. I’m on a Facebook page about the issue, and it appears that it’s formulation errors, not just ingredients. So the implicated food manufacturers may not have been producing foods that were complete and balanced. They know it’s the food as dogs who don’t already have severe heart damage have improved with a diet switch and heart meds if necessary.

  • Daisy – Thanks for this important alert!
    I can’t see a date anywhere, but since I saw a comment dated July 2, I assume it was published July 1, 2019? I also noted dates within the text of the article. A date is important when I send out alerts such as this to friends & associates.

    ARCH – Animal Rescue & Care Home

    • Hi Barbara! The dates on our articles appear on the featured image (the image at the top of the article) on the left-hand side in a white bar.

      I hope that helps. Thank you for sharing our articles!

  • The Organic Prepper website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. THAT’S ALL I NEED TO KNOW. Nobody reads or investigates anything. Especially when the truth is staring you in the face.

    • Hello, Robert. First of all, what in the name of cotton candy does me being an affiliate have to do with an article about a study done by the FDA? I don’t believe I even have any affiliate links in that article. I like dogs. That’s why I write articles about things that could hurt them.

      Secondly, I assume that you work for free and provide any services you render for free as well. While I wish I was able to be so very generous as you, Robert, this website actually costs several thousand dollars per month to run. My expenses last year alone on my taxes were $40,046.65. This does not include my own earnings of $31.809. (Clearly, I’m not over here getting rich from your Amazon purchases.) These are exact numbers – I went and checked my profit and loss statement just for you, Robert. With this income, I support myself and my family and I work an average of 10 hours per day. Now, that’s a lot of information I know, but I have nothing to hide.

      That is how much it cost me to run my website, keep it safe from hackers, keep people’s personal information safe, send them emails if they request it, and pay my writers. From Amazon, I receive a whopping 4% commission, so let me do the math for you, Robert. If I recommend a $10 book, I get 40 cents. That’s 40 cents in income that doesn’t cost the readers anything at all.

      Let me also add this – everyone has access to over 2000 articles that are posted publicly on this website. And if people can’t afford the books I sell? Guess what? I offer those absolutely free because everyone should be able to access important information.

      Would you like to talk about “the truth?” Well, here it is. You, Robert, are wildly ignorant. You know absolutely nothing about me or my business or the other people who work hard here to publish solid information.

      Have a wonderful day out there helping others and working full time for free. Or trolling websites and insulting people. Whatever.
      Very best wishes,

      • I just love you, following you for years!! ???????? Keep helping SO MANY people as you do… I learn so much from you

  • Find a smaller abbotoire / slaughter house…. buy the old stock of organ meat for less than dog food.

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