FDA Warning: These 3 Expensive Brands of Food May Increase Your Dog’s Risk of Heart Disease

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Sometimes even when you get the most expensive brands of dog food to pamper your pet, you still end up giving him something harmful. We’ve seen this with numerous dog food recalls in the past. Such is the case with three specific grain-free brands that the FDA has linked to heart disease in dogs.

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. (source)

With the current grain-free fad, it’s no surprise that this issue is widespread.

Which brands are the ones to worry about?

These three brands were most commonly associated with dogs reported to have DCM.

  • Acana
  • Zignature
  • Taste of the Wild

But they weren’t the only brands. The report reads like a Who’s Who of expensive dog food. You can check it out here. When you pull up the report, hit Control F and type your dog food brand into the search bar.

I know that I’ve given Taste of the Wild to my own dogs – it was highly recommended by dog trainers and vets at one point in time.

Here’s the methodology behind the FDA’s study:

For the purposes of this investigation, the FDA defines a “case” as an illness reported to FDA involving a dog or cat that includes a diagnosis of DCM. Many of the reports submitted to the FDA included extensive clinical information, including echocardiogram results, cardiology/veterinary records, and detailed diet histories. (source)

It’s also noted that cats were included in the study but the heart disease in felines manifested as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Which dogs are most at risk?

DCM is more common in certain breeds of dog in the first place, even before the canines are fed grain-free diets.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, or the Irish Wolfhound. It is also seen in Cocker Spaniels associated with taurine deficiency. It is believed to be less common in small and medium breed dogs. We suspect that cases are underreported because animals are typically treated symptomatically, and diagnostic testing and treatment can be complex and costly to owners. FDA has observed a reporting bias for breeds like Golden Retrievers due to breed-specific social media groups and activities that have raised awareness of the issue in these communities and urged owners and vets to submit reports to FDA…

…Additional breeds with more than one report include Afghan Hound, Australian Cattle Dog, Beagle, Belgian Tervueren, Border Collie, Boston Terrier, Bull Terrier, Chihuahua, Dalmatian, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-coated Retriever, French Bulldog, Gordon Setter, Hound (unspecified), Irish Setter, Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Jack Russel Terrier, Maltese, Miniature Schnauzer, Old English Sheepdog, Pomeranian, Portuguese Water Dog, Pug, Retriever (unspecified), Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Rough-haired Collie, Saluki, Samoyed, Schnauzer (unspecified), Shepherd (unspecified), Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Standard Long-haired Dachschund, Vizsla, Whippet, and Yorkshire Terrier. (source)

What the heck should you feed your dog?

Just like people food, 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.

To learn more about your dog’s overall health, check out this interesting article.

What do you feed your dogs?

Do you make your own dog food? Do you purchase dog food? If so, is your brand on the list of foods that the FDA is concerned about? Do you plan to make any changes to your dog’s diet based on this news?



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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.

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  • Daisy, my wife and I feed our Weimaraner Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Lamb and rice formula (in which lamb is the first ingredient) and have since we got her 8 years ago. We got her from Weimaraner Rescue in Las Vegas, NV., when she was 4 years old. She has been very healthy and our vet says it’s a very good food. We do cheat and supplement it with table scraps and carrots–she loves carrots.

    She also gets a daily Kirkland Chicken Meal and Rice formula Dog Biscuit that helps keep her teeth healthy.

    She’s 12 now and in spite of just laying around a lot we’ve been able to maintain her weight at a healthy 70 pounds.

    We make a 2 hour road trip to Costco in Las Vegas about every three months to stock her food up again and pick up things like mixed nuts for us. I subscribe to a website (I don’t recall the name right now) that sends me warnings of dog food recalls and the Kirkland brands we use have never appeared on that site.

  • Hey Daisy. Will you create the link to your homemade dog food? I wanted to see what you do but I’m not seeing a hyperlink.. Thanks!

    • Hi, Rhonda. I don’t post my own recipe because I’m not a vet. I use the recipes and guidelines set out by the vets I linked to here and supplement with some cooked chicken liver and fish oil caps. I would feel awful if someone used my recipe and their pet did not thrive on it, so it’s best to do your own research. One word of caution – don’t just use anyone’s online recipe – look for recipes on veterinary sites. LM recommended another good source of info in the topics here.

  • Great article, and great advice, Daisy. For anyone looking to learn more about feeding a raw, or home-cooked diet (which can be just as damaging if it’s not done properly), I recommend looking up the website of Dr. Karen Becker / Mercola Pets. Dr. Becker is a holistic vet and has numerous books available on preparing correct species-appropriate diets, and there’s tons of feeding information on the website.

  • Little one gets IAMs and the big one ole roy. Little one is getting old so he gets “better” food. The food is small enough for him and he’s missing a tooth or two and he gets the big stuff hung in the gaps and sticking my finger in and cleaning it out ain’t on my fun list lol.
    They get supplemented with leftover meat, chicken and fish. In the fall they eat plenty of deer as I butcher. I give them a little milk bout once a week and any chicken eggs that get cracked open by one of my jealous hens or my grandkids when they collect. I pour the trimmings and grease off on their food with ham and bacon etc.
    I don’t have “breeds”. They are mixes and hardy and somewhat spoiled.
    I don’t reckon I’ll change anything cause who really knows what’s in dog food anyway.

  • I have been making food for my dogs since the Wegmans brand proved deceptively labeled as “poultry free!” and whose ingredients list showed chicken fat. Worse was the response, when called on it the manufacturer first denied that chicken fat was a poultry product then stated they weren’t trying to hide anything because the ingredient was listed on the label. NOT AS LARGE as the poultry free claim; unfortunately, for my Doxie with a severe chicken allergy.

  • Daisy, the name of the site I couldn’t recall in my previous post is Dog Food Advisor. It’s a free service so anyone with a dog should subscribe.

  • Mea Culpa. The Kirkland food we feed our dog has had one recall issued. That was for food produced between December 9, 2012 and January 31, 2013. I didn’t remember that one because it didn’t impact us as we had food produced earlier that those dates.

  • The search feature is not working for me. Could somebody please check to see if my dog’s food is included. I home cook but use a small amount of the following for snacks:

    GO sensitivity + shine limited ingredient diet salmon recipe.

    This is a Canadian company. The bag has a big Go! on the top.

    Thank you for your help!

  • I had two Catahoulas (Most people say a cat a what?) and I fed them Blue Buffalo dog food and pretty much raw chicken, beef and pork. Added some home grown potatoes, and rice and veggies to the mix. I think they ate better than me sometimes.
    The point of paying more for better food is less is needed, and the dog or cat’s body uses more of the food meaning less waste for you to clean up. Or so I was told.
    It was hard to pay 60 bucks for a bag of food sometimes when you can get a big one at Wally World for 25 bucks.

  • My 8 year old Doberman, who we fed Taste of the Wild, died of CDM last August. What a heart breaker. Still gets me welled up. Our 7 year old Doberman will be having her diet changed this week after reading this article. Thank you for the information.

  • I feed my dog a diet as close to his ancestral diet as possible. Dogs are carnivores and did not evolve eating grains or legumes so their digestive system doesn’t tolerate them well. In addition, these ingredients are loaded with pesticides (including glyphosate which is a carcinogen and also destroys gut health and the immune system), are often GMO, and contain antinutrients that prevent absorbtion of essential micronutrients. Almost all of the grain free dog food formulas are loaded with legumes which have now been linked to canine heart disease. Meat is expensive so they just switched to another inexpensive filler regardless of whether or not it’s actually healthy for canines.

    There are now a few pre-packaged dog foods that don’t contain grains or legumes and only use pasture raised meat and organ meats, they’re expensive but to me very worth it. Thankfully my dog is small so he doesn’t eat too much which helps, but I also think the savings in vet bills offsets a lot of the cost even if you have a larger dog. I feed my dog a combination of “Answers” detailed raw food, “Small Batch” raw food”, OnlynaturalPet MaxMeat air dried dog food, and Ziwi Peak air dried dog food. None of these foods contain GMO or glyphosate crops, vegetable oils, grains, legumes, potatoes, or factory farmed meat.

    It took me a lot of research and a long time to get here but I’m so glad I took the time, my dog is my baby and I want him to have the healthiest diet possible. Hope this helps!

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