Is My Dog Susceptible To Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Its thought that some breeds are more susceptible to DCM than others. If you own one of the breeds mentioned below, it doesnt mean he/she will get DCM, it just means that there is a higher than average incidence.
There are things you can do to offset this disease including feeding a healthy, well-rounded diet, appropriate exercise, and maintaining regular veterinarian check-ups.
Kal Kan Complete Adult Food For Dogs
Touted as a complete and balanced dog food diet, the Kal Kan Complete Adult Food For Dogs is advertised to contain all the protein necessary to provide dogs with enough stamina and energy.
While it does make good on its promise, we cant help but check the label to see if it really is as good as it sounds. And thats where it went downhill.
The first ingredient in this recipe is ground yellow corn. Now a dish that doesnt start with meat is already low-quality in our opinion , but the corn is supported by many more carb ingredients in the food.
Aside from corn, there is one more corn product , two grain products , and one legume ingredient. Three of them are in the first five of the ingredients list.
Now lets move on to the meats. Theyre both unspecified. Meat and bone meal does not refer to which animal contributed to the meal.
Its a vague term that could mean either one type of animal meat was used or a lot. If your pet is particularly sensitive to some types of animal protein, then it becomes even more worrying. You dont know what youre feeding your pup.
Another thing is the use of the term chicken by-product meal. When meat is simply stated as chicken then it refers to the chickens muscle meat.
Throw in the word by-product and that becomes open to interpretation. Anything leftover from processing meat is considered a byproduct. So you can get meat and organs, but you could also be getting entrails, feathers, and more.
Recall Info: None yet.
Why Is The Fda Investigating Grain
It is easy to panic anytime we see an FDA headline about pet food. After all, keeping our dogs healthy is essential to us, and we know that diet can make a big difference in a dogs well-being. We reached out to Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the AKC, to hear his thoughts on the ongoing FDA investigation.
The FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy and dogs eating certain grain-free dog foods. The foods of concern are those containing legumes such as peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes listed as primary ingredients. The FDA began investigating this matter after it received reports of DCM in dogs that had been eating these diets for a period of months to years. DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because the disease occurred in breeds of dogs not typically prone to the disease.
Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM , and most reports were submitted after the FDAs first public alert in July 2018. The total number of pets affected is greater than 524 because some reports included multi-pet households.
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Food Fraud: It May Not Actually Be Grain Free
Pet owners are often surprised that not all grain free diets for dogs are actually that, grain-free. In order to understand how this is possible, you need to learn about food substances that are technically grains. Merriam-Websters online dictionary defines a grain in the following way :
Botanically speaking, cereal grains belong to the family Poaceae, which includes wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, sorghum, spelt, millet, triticale, rye and many others.
Another group of grains has become popular in certain boutique dog foods and are often marketed as grain-free dog food diets. They are technically correct, as pseudo-grains buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are seeds botanically speaking.
So why does this matter?
It matters because dog food companies may be lying to you, which shouldn’t be a surprise at this point.
Pet food manufacturers rely on the fact that most people dont fully understand what a grain is. For example, most people think of wheat and corn when they think of grains. It is corn and wheat that are currently the most villainized cereal grains, associated with GMO production, chemical residues and poor health.
Kibbles N Bits Homestyle Grilled Beef & Vegetable
At first glance, this recipe looks alright. Its promoted as having a culinary-inspired formula and is supposed to be loaded with proteins.
The texture crunchy kibbles with soft, meaty bits is also something that would definitely interest a pup. However, if you look closely at the label, youll see that the food is made up of low-quality ingredients.
Its not meat-based. Although its billed as a beef and vegetable recipe, the vegetables come first and there are more of them than necessary.
In fact, the main ingredients of the meal are corn and grains. The meat doesnt come in until the third slot. and its the only meat within the first eight ingredients of the recipe .
We dont usually have a problem with corn or grains, but this many? And its not only that. Theres corn syrup in the food. While corn syrup is not a dangerous ingredient, it has a high sugar content.
Its not necessary in dog food, and manufacturers only add it to enhance the flavor. If your pup is already struggling with obesity, then this sugar product makes the problem worse.
Lastly, were not a fan of artificial colors, and this food has plenty of it. Dogs arent tempted by colored foods, so the artificial hues are really intended to attract pet owners.
Recall Info: No food recall for this specific recipe although Kibbles n Bits has been involved in a recall for its canned foods back in 2018.
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The Bottom Line: Should I Feed Grain
It depends. Many grain-free foods are still deemed safe to feed. The best things you can do are consult your vet, do your research, avoid brands linked to cases of DCM and consider your pets health and needs. While it can be an overwhelming decision due to the amount of pet food types and brands and the information that is coming from the FDA and other sources the best thing you can do is work with your pets doctor and consider their needs. The other thing you can do to ensure your pup stays healthy is to keep up with annual wellness exams! This will allow your vet to build a relationship with your dog and catch any small health concerns before they turn into bigger problems!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.
Are Other Factors Involved
So far, the FDA reports biggest finding is that nearly all dogs with DCM were fed grain-free diets. This suggests a strong link between grain-free foods and heart disease in these pets.
The FDA hasnt yet determined the exact mechanism for how the disease forms. To cover all bases, the FDA and partnering agencies are continuing to research any possible factors, such as genetics, heavy metal exposure and other toxicities, that are possibly contributing to DCM development.
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Should I Be Avoiding Grain
With the rise of grain-free dog foods, veterinarians started to notice a worrying trend dogs eating these diets were found to be suffering from a rare heart condition. This illness, called Dilated Cardiomyopathy , causes the heart muscle to weaken and can lead to sudden death. It is traditionally only seen in a handful of breeds including the Doberman Pinscher, the Great Dane, the Boxer, and the Cocker Spaniel.
In 2018, an investigation was launched to figure out exactly what was causing this heart condition in the wider population of dogs. The fact that many DCM patients were consuming grain-free food pushed researchers to pursue diet as a potential cause.
Overreaching By Those With An Axe To Grind
It was bad enough to see the FDAs warning reduced by a combination of poor reporting, poor reader comprehension, and social media hysteria to grain-free foods cause canine heart disease. But some media outlets also included statements from an animal nutrition expert whose opinions on diets are consistent with those of the pet food industry corporate giants she has repeatedly been quoted as implicating boutique pet foods in the current rash of reported cases of DCM. Whats a boutique food? She doesnt define this, but we suspect its anything made by any company whose annual sales are less than umpteen million
This same expert has also implicated foods that contain exotic ingredients, which she provided a partial list for in one article: kangaroo, lentils, duck, pea, fava bean, buffalo, tapioca, salmon, lamb, barley, bison, venison, and chickpeas. Hmm.
All in all, we have lost track of the number of times she has been quoted as saying that pet owners should avoid boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diets and, unfortunately, this over-broad and ill-defined description is finding its way into more and more discussions of this concerning issue.
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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.
It’s Not Necessarily Healthier For Dogs
First, let’s start with a simple fact: there is no scientific evidence suggesting that grain free diet for dogs is a better option for every pet. In fact, the research that has been done on these diets found somewhat opposite results. A 2014 study concludes:
Labels that read grain-free are more harmful to the dog and should not be given unless required for other specific needs.
Experts staying on the top of current research pet nutrition further confirm this, and generally disagree about switching your dog to a grain free diet without a good reason to do so .
Grain free diets differ significantly one from another
Moreover, the grain free diet for dogs has many variations, and they are not all created equally. Unless he has a special health condition, your pet’s grain-free dog food diet shouldnt be low-carb, but many are.
On the other hand, grain-free diets that are high in protein and fat and low in carbs can be problematic for some dogs .
Studies show how feeding your dog grain-free may result in an imbalance of microorganisms in the dogs digestive tract, and if not immediately then eventually resulting in flatulence, diarrhea, vomiting or constipation.
Be careful of high-protein diets that contain only one or two sources of fiber. Not all fiber is created equal and different types have different effects on the digestive system.
If you see ingredients on the label from both sides of this chart, your dogs fiber is well-covered:
|Soluble Fiber Sources|
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The Majority Of Dogs Can Easily Digest Grains
As dogs have evolved alongside people, their digestive tracts can efficiently digest grain-based calories. As I’ve mentioned, grain free diet for dogs can be a good option in very specific cases. For example, if your pet has allergies, switching to a grain free dog food diet may seem like the way to go . Many people decide to try a gluten-free or grain-free diet in order to alleviate certain symptoms.
While it’s true that going grain free may help certain canines, it is unlikely to help your dog in the way that you think.
Most dogs with allergies suffer from atopic dermatitis. Dogs can have itchy skin allergies to a variety of different substances, but dogs dont commonly suffer from gluten or grain intolerances or allergies. It is not impossible but very unlikely.
Only about 10% of allergies in dogs are caused by food . Most of this 10% is caused by eating proteins such as beef, chicken, eggs, and lamb, which studies have found to be the most common allergens. While it does occur, wheat and corn are a more rare cause of allergies in dogs. Statistically, your pet’s itchy skin is most likely caused by an allergy to something in the environment, such as pollen, mold, dust mite dander and cockroach dander.
If you think that your dog is suffering from a food allergy, please talk to your veterinarian. It may be better to try a novel protein diet or a hypoallergenic diet before cutting out the grains, and put your pooch through the elimination diet trial.
How Raw Dog Food Is Different
Rex loves the crunch of Vital Essentials freeze-dried mini nibs and his parents love the convenience.
Unlike most commercial grain free dog foods, raw dog food is naturally grain free rather than modified to exclude grains. As Dr. Patton notes, Raw food isnt grain free in the sense that grain free traditional kibble is. Its grain free because the only ingredients are what nature intended: meat, vital organs, and bones, which means more protein and fewer soluble carbohydrates.
Raw dog food products like those from Vital Essentials arent just grain free, but theyre also free of any of the other ingredients that could potentially cause problems.
Grain free is a non-issue in Vital Essentials foods, Dr. Patton says. Vital Essentials doesnt have to use special recipes to exclude grains because the grains arent there in the first place. And thats how nature intended it.
Willow knows a nutritious Vital Essentials raw meat diet is all thats needed to stay healthy no corn required!
So, should you choose grain free?
It all comes down to what grain free means in terms of the food and, of course, whats best for your pet. Not all grain free dog foods are created equal some grain free foods simply replace the grains with other carb-heavy fillers that are just as unhealthy for your dog and may even be linked to DCM.
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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.
What Your Dogs Pet Food Should Include
As long as your dog doesnt have any allergens, you should choose a dog food brand that meets your dogs nutritional needs. Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores, which means they need a diet that consists of a combination of meat and plants.
The dog food brand should meet the nutritional content standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials . It should contain a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.
When looking at the ingredients for kibble or wet food, make sure you recognize the ingredients in it. For instance, they should include whole-food ingredients. Stay away from fillers as much as possible.
The food should also be low calorie, which means that it has less than 350 calories per cup. If your dog is eating a low-quality, high-calorie dog food, it could lead to obesity, which causes a range of health problems.
You can ask your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist how many calories your dog needs per day based on his body condition score as well as his lifestyle. Typically, if your dog lives in your house, has a light exercise schedule, and is spayed or neutered, you can use this easy formula to calculate his caloric intake:
30 x weight in kg + 70 = Daily number of calories he should intake.
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Dog Heart Murmur Life Expectancy
None of these ingredients are particularly bad on their own. The problem may be that there is not enough adequately formulated nutrition for dogs in them.
Unfortunately, theres a misconception that if a diet is good enough for humans, its good enough for dogs. That is not true because the nutritional needs of our fluffy friends is not the same as ours. Their bodies metabolize differently than ours.