The US Food and Drug Administration has been investigating a possible connection between grain free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.

DCM is a heart condition that is most commonly seen in certain medium to large breed dogs.  The heart becomes enlarged and loses its ability to pump blood to the body.

Veterinarians began noticing an uptick of DCM cases in dogs not normally known to suffer from this disease.  In many of these cases, the dogs were eating grain freed dog food that contained different kinds of potatoes, peas, or lentils instead of wheat.

The FDA updated its findings at the end of June.  What does the latest research say?

  • The most reported breeds among all the cases are Golden Retrievers, mixed breeds, and Labrador Retrievers.
  • The mean age of affected dogs is 6.6 years, and the weight is 67.8 pounds.
  • The vast majority of reported cases were fed a dry dog food diet.
  • 90% of reported food products were labeled as grain free and 93% of reported products contained peas and/or lentils.
  • No one source of animal protein stood out more than others.
  • The most reported pet food brands are Acana, Zignature, and Taste of the Wild.

What are the next steps in this ongoing research?

The FDA is still investigating a possible connection between taurine (an amino acid) and DCM.

Taurine deficiency is associated with DCM in dogs.  Certain breeds are especially susceptible, and researchers are currently looking at taurine deficiency and DCM in Golden Retrievers.

The FDA reports that it continues to work with pet food manufacturers, veterinarians, and pet owners to understand more about this issue.

They encourage vets and owners to report any possible diet related cases of DCM.  You can find more information on reporting HERE.

Be sure to talk to your vet about the best diet for your individual dog.

DCM can be life-threatening.  If your dog is showing unusual signs of weakness, tiredness, difficulty breathing, or collapse, seek veterinary care right away.


11 thoughts on “FDA Updates Findings on Link Between Grain Free Dog Food and Heart Disease

  1. I heard this story and thought it’ just like the bacon scare years ago. One decade it’s ok in moderation, the next one it’s not. Makes you wonder sometimes, doesn’t it? Not sure if my cynicism is getting the better of me or what. Thanks for sharing. One can certainly not question the number of pet that have suffered, even if the causes give one a momentary bit of pause.

    1. The evidence seems to be pointing to some dogs being susceptible to a taurine deficiency caused by diet. Certainly, we don’t *have* to feed our pets food with peas, lentils, etc. if we are concerned.

      1. I agree. The point I was trying to make is how positions seem to change. Almost makes you wonder how dogs and cats survived as long as they did back when we were growing up when dog food was manufactured so differently. 😊

  2. HuMom is not a fan of processed food including kibble for us dogs. Both Q & I take taurine supplements in our meals. I take more to help manage living with canine epilepsy. Lady Q showed improvements almost immediately. 💜nose nudges💜

  3. Our little terrier is 14 years old. She had some skin issues/allergies. Our vet recommended grain-free for her. She is about six pounds. We chose Benefial. It seems like she is doing well. She is older and rests often. We put our 2 year old Terripoo on the same food so as not to have to buy another dog food. Is she a breed not affected?

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