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Grain-free Dog Food Problems 2020

What Is Fda Doing To Better Understand Non

FDA Warns About Grain Free Dog Food And Heart Problems

Our veterinarians, animal nutritionists, epidemiologists and pathologists have been working with veterinary cardiologists and nutritionists from academia, industry and private practice to better understand the clinical presentation of the cases and potential ties to diet, such as bioavailability of critical nutrients and how well a dog digests these nutrients. FDA scientists also presented at the KSU symposium on a subset of dogs that had fully or partially recovered from DCM with diet change and veterinary care.

So Grains Are Good For My Dog

Yes, they can be very nutritious as part of your dogs diet. Whole grains offer a range of important nutrients for dogs as part of a balanced diet. This works in conjunction with high-quality animal protein sources.

Grains provide:

  • An excellent source of complex carbohydrates for energy
  • Essential amino acids from plant protein
  • Fibre for intestinal health.

What Is Wrong With Grain

According to reports, the FDA has investigated a potential link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy and grain-free dog food.

The issue arises with grain-free recipes containing alternative carbohydrate sources like legumes . However, it is not established whether it is due to the lack of grains or the presence of legumes.

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What To Do If Your Dog Feeds On Grain

  • Examine the ingredients on the label. If the main carbohydrate source is peas and lentils, it would be better for you to change the diet to foods that contain grains.
  • You can visit your vet to have a cardiac ultrasound also known as an echocardiogram to check if your dog has any evidence of cardiomyopathy.
  • If your dog is at risk of a taurine deficiency and is eating a diet that can worsen the case, then it is better to switch the diet to a standard and regular grain-filled diet or check the blood taurine levels.
  • Is Fda Planning To Continue Naming The Brands Most Associated With Cases


    No, we are not planning to update the commonly reported brands, as we are aware that several pet food companies have adjusted diet formulations since our initial announcements about DCM. We have asked pet food manufacturers to share diet formulation information, which could substantially benefit our understanding of the role of diet in these cases. We continue to encourage pet owners to discuss their animals’ diets with their veterinarians.

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    Not All Amino Acids Are Equal

    The 10 essential amino acids need to be present in specific parameters in order to meet the nutritional needs of dogs. Behind the happy, healthy pup you spend time with, there are a lot of metabolic conversions that go on inside their body every day. Essential AAs can be converted into several forms. They are like building blocks and have to be present in the right amounts in order for your dog to get all the right nutrition. Youll notice that taurine is listed as non-essential for dogs. Taurine is well recognized as an important nutrient for cardiac health. Scientists have established that dogs can make taurine from methionine and another non-essential AA called cysteine.

    What Should Concerned Dog Owners Do

    If a dog owner is feeding a grain-free food or is noticing any worrisome symptoms in their dog, they should discuss their concerns with their veterinarian. A dietary change to a food containing grains may be recommended, taurine levels may be measured, and an echocardiogram may be performed to assess heart function after the veterinarian performs a full physical on the dog. If DCM is diagnosed after these tests are performed, a report should be filed with the FDA and medications and/or supplements may be recommended based on the findings to manage the disease.

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    What Additional Information Would Help Further Understanding Of Non

    FDA is encouraged by the response of veterinary cardiologists, veterinary nutritionists, academia and industry in delving into this issue and we encourage other scientists to take part. As we look further into the role that diet may play in these cases, we hope to explore additional avenues of inquiry such as formulation, nutrient bioavailability, ingredient sourcing, and diet processing to determine if there are any common factors. We have asked pet food manufacturers to share diet formulation information, which could substantially benefit our understanding of the role of diet in the development of non-hereditary DCM. Formulation data shared with the FDA will be kept confidential.

    What Is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy And How Does Non

    Ask the Vet: The Issues of Grain-Free Dog Food

    DCM is a disease of a dogs heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, which can lead to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen .

    Historically, DCM has been primarily linked to a genetic predisposition in certain breeds, but emerging science appears to indicate that non-hereditary forms of DCM occur in dogs as a complex medical condition that may be affected by the interplay of multiple factors such as genetics, underlying medical conditions, and diet. Aspects of diet that may interact with genetics and underlying medical conditions may include nutritional makeup of the ingredients and how dogs digest them, ingredient sourcing, processing, formulation, and/or feeding practices.

    Reports from veterinary cardiologists demonstrate some good results in improving heart function in non-hereditary DCM cases, unlike genetic forms of DCM, with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, when caught early in the progression of the disease.

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    Grain Free Dog Food Alternatives

    Raw diets are biologically appropriate MEAT-BASED diets, high in taurine, methionine and cysteine and low in lectin content. Poultry, hooved animals, fish, organs are all perfect, taurine-packed foods for our carnivorous friends. Its hardwired into their DNA to eat a meat-based diet. Its the best defense against the development of diet-induced DCM.

    Research is still being conducted on the DCM issue but. Our belief is that you cannot modify an animals diet to meet human ideals and expect that it will just work out. We cannot do better than nature.

    What Does This All Mean

    A relationship between grain-free diets and the development of DCM hasnt been fully proven. However, there are numerous reports of dogs with DCM whose condition improved or completely resolved after they were taken off a BEG diet and started on a special amino acid supplementation . The short answer is, we still dont know why this is happening, but it appears that DCM is more likely to occur in dogs who are only eating BEG diets.

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    The Role Of Taurine In Canine Dcm

    The investigators also looked into low taurine as a possible cause for the recent cases. So far, these results have been inconclusive. Just under half of the tested dogs in the report were taurine-deficient, while the remaining half had normal taurine levels.

    Other studies, however, suggest that taurine may play a bigger role in DCM, especially for certain dog breeds. One study found that 24 Golden Retrievers with DCM had low taurine, and most of the dogs were fed grain-free diets prior to diagnosis.

    Fortunately, the heart disease resolved for nearly all of the dogs after they received cardiac medications and taurine supplements and switched to a grain-inclusive diet.

    Does Grain Free Food Cause Heart Problems In Dogs

    Hills Grain Free Dog Treats, Soft

    We all want the best for our pets, especially their food. Every pet parent wants to give their fur baby the most nutritious and safest diet available. That is what is behind the demand for grain-free dog foods. Dog owners do not want to give their pets food that is mostly cheap filler ingredients with little or no nutritional value, and many foods out there include an excess of maize and other grains. Some dogs are intolerant of some grains. But now dog owners are hearing reports of grain-free dog food causing heart problems, even leading to death in some cases.

    The news is terrifying, of course, and confusing. Why do some dogs seem to thrive on a diet that causes fatal heart problems in others? Why does grain-free dog food cause heart disease?

    As much as we would all love a simple answer, there is not one. Research is ongoing, but what we know so far is that some dogs on grain-free diets have died young of heart problems. What went wrong? Does grain-free dog food cause heart problems in dogs? Why?

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    What Is Dialated Cardiomyopathy

    In dogs suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle weakens, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. This increased stress on the heart can enlarge it, which can ultimately lead to congestive heart failure.

    Dilated cardiomyopathy is usually found in dogs that have a genetic predisposition to DCM or other types of cardiac disease. Larger breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Newfoundlands, and Saint Bernards are the most commonly afflicted, but Cocker Spaniels can also suffer from DCM. Normally, DCM isnt that common in medium-sized and smaller dogs . Then, enter the grain-free diet and dog breeds that were typically not prone to DCM are being diagnosed with it. The cause, as determined by the FDA, was dietary and not genetic.

    Stern Has Been An Author On Studies Funded By The Morris Animal Foundation Since 2011 And He Currently Receives Funding From The Foundation

    I completely understand conflict of interest concerns with people being funded by the pet food industry and I acknowledge that that is something that we are up against, Stern said in an interview, noting that this also applies to researchers and veterinarians who dont believe there is a connection between DCM and grain-free food. Its hard to find a veterinary nutritionist that hasnt done research for pet food companies.

    All three veterinary schools also have close ties to the pet food industry another common issue in this field. For example, UC Davis has a Hills VIP Market program where faculty, residents and students get discounts on Hills food, and Purina has donated $50,000 annually to the veterinary schools Center for Food Animal Health since 2006. Purina has also funded scholarships for students at the University of Florida. In the early 2000s, Tufts had a Hills Resident Research Fund, and Purina has offered resident research grants and scholarships for student representatives.

    Purina, Hills and Mars produce some of the most popular grain-inclusive dog foods, includingPurina Pro Plan and Purina ONE, Hills Science Diet and IAMS Proactive Health . They all also sell grain-free diets. However, grain-inclusive foods are key drivers of dry dog food sales across the industry.

    Purina, Hills and Mars did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    Joshua Stern, University of California at Davis,School of Veterinary Medicine

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    Does The Research Point To Grain

    Unlike the genetic form of DCM, the recent DCM cases have affected a wide range of dog ages and breeds, from puppies to older dogs. The most commonly reported breeds with DCM have included the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever and mixed breeds.

    When the FDA reviewed dietary factors, they found that over 90 percent of dogs with DCM were being fed diets listed either as grain-free or zero grain.

    Instead of grains, these diets contained peas and/or lentils as their main ingredients. A lower proportion of the diets also listed potatoes or sweet potatoes as a top ingredient.

    The researchers examined many other components in the diets, such as protein source, minerals, carbohydrates and starches, but none of these other components trended with disease development.

    It is also worth noting that according to the FDA, the diets of dogs in reported cases had high concentrations/ratios of certain ingredients such as peas, chickpeas, lentils, and/or various types of potatoes, which is typical of grain-free diets, but diets that contained grains were also represented among these cases.

    How Should You Select A Food For Your Pet

    A Warning to Pet Owners About Grain Free Dog Food

    When selecting a diet for your pet, the best advice is to ask your veterinarian. Veterinarians receive training in animal nutrition while in school and at educational conferences throughout their career they are much better suited to advise you about proper diets than a pet store employee. It is worth noting that there have been no reported cases of dogs developing nutritionally mediated DCM while eating a food that meets the World Small Animal Veterinary Association guidelines, so that is a good place to start.

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    Miscommunication Lack Of Transparency To Date

    Unbeknownst to most, Kansas State University held a virtual scientific forum on September 29, 2020, to explore the emerging issue between DCM and certain pet food diets. The forum provided an opportunity for FDA and other organizations to give an update in a non-public setting, which appeared to serve as a call to action.

    To this point, I have covered the DCM topic as it relates to nutrition in and , and as part of a presentation I gave at the VMX veterinary conference in January 2020, on Ethical Advice on Dietary Recommendations in the Shadow of DCM.

    In all of this coverage, I have been critical not only of how the investigation and data collection for this DCM issue have been conducted but also of the three FDA DCM advisories: the initial one in July 2018, plus the February 2019 and June 2019 follow-ups. This is because there was a significant level of miscommunication of information, but also significant issues in the way the information was disseminated with a lack of transparency to the veterinary, pet food industry and pet owner communities.

    FDAs Center for Veterinary Medicine did provide some critical albeit not highly publicized updates during the most recent forum in September 2020. Yet, this has left me scratching my head! Not to fear, though, well cover those updates here.

    Cardiology Services’ Survey Responses

    Geographically, each region of the United States was represented by at least one participating veterinary cardiology service. Out of the states that have a board-certified cardiologist, the state participant rate was 35.1%. Of the 88 cardiology services contacted, 74 cardiology services declined. Veterinary medical records are only required to be kept for 37 years, depending on the specific state’s law, and therefore, was a limitation to the amount of data retrospectively collected. Fourteen services agreed to provide information from the DCM incidence survey. The services that declined to participate did so for various reasons including, but not limited to, being unable to adequately search their medical record systems, not having the resources to do such a search, or for unknown reasons.

    Incidence rates were based on 68,297 cardiology patients seen at a referral hospital and not the entire dog population. From these participating services, one provided 20 years of data, two provided 1415 years of data, four provided between 8 and 11 years of data, and the remaining seven services provided 5 years or less of data . Some of the reporting hospitals contributed fewer years of data due to their medical record search limitations or they did not have a board-certified cardiologist on staff for a long enough period to provide data.

    Figure 1. Dilated cardiomyopathy annual average from all participating cardiologist services over the past 20 years.

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    Why Were Grains Removed From Dog Foods In The First Place

    The myth that domestic dogs are unable to digest grains is likely to be a factor in the growing popularity of the grain-free diet. It has been well-documented that dogs can thrive on a grain-inclusive diet and have done so historically!

    The great evolutionary success of the dog can be traced back to its evolution alongside human populations. This was achieved, in part, by the dogs ability to adapt to consuming the carbohydrate-rich scraps and leftovers. There are no studies that have shown grain-inclusive diets to be detrimental to the health of our domestic dogs. In fact, the cooked grains in commercial diets provide many beneficial nutrients to the diet including vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

    The grain-free statement on the label itself has also proven to be an attractive feature of certain dog foods. The absence claim labelling trend is on the rise as has been seen with the popularity of free-from foods on British shelves.

    This category of products was originally created to satisfy the needs of individuals with allergies and intolerances. However, free-from foods are now being appreciated by the wider market and are perceived to be healthier than ones without a claim. Similarly, with dog foods, absence claims can make a diet seem like a better choice even when the reasons arent clear.

    Wholegrains Boast Lots Of Benefits For Dogs

    Top 10 All Natural Dog Food Brands Review 2020

    For more than 40 years in my career as a veterinary surgeon I have championed the valuable role that whole grains can play in managing health problems in dogs. Brown rice, oats and maize are excellent whole grains that can help a variety of ailments including skin disorders, digestive problems and even behaviour issues. Regardless of whether these ingredients are home cooked or commercially produced, they can play an important role in supporting pet health, meaning fewer trips to the vets and a happier pup all round. Natural, wholesome grain-based food has stood the test of time!

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    Is There Any Situation In Which A Dog Would Need A Grain

    It is rare that a dog would require a grain-free diet for medical reasons. The top two dietary allergens in dogs are beef and dairy products, with wheat coming in third. Additionally, in the case that a grain sensitivity does exist, it is unlikely that a dog will be triggered by all types of grain. If you suspect that your dog has a dietary allergy, have a chat with your veterinarian. Dietary allergies will require veterinary intervention for diagnosis and treatment.

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