Grain-Free Diet Guidance

Recent information has given rise to concerns about feeding grain free diets. There is increasing evidence linking these diets to a form of heart disease in dogs. The FDA, Tufts University, UC Davis, CVCA and others continue research regarding these concerns. For now, here are links to related information, as well as a statement from our local cardiology group.

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From the Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates (CVCA) Website; Guidance for Pet Owners:

“At this point in time, we are not certain of the exact causal relationship between grain-free and/or high legume diets in atypical dog breeds with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Taurine deficiency of these pet foods does not appear to be the primary issue in these DCM patients as we have found normal taurine levels in many of these pets with DCM. However, in some breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel and Golden Retriever, we have found low plasma taurine levels.”

At this time, if there is not a clinical reason (i.e. food allergies or gastrointestinal upset) for use of a limited ingredient, unique protein source (kangaroo, alligator, bison, etc.) diet, we would suggest using alternative diets. Consultation with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist should be considered. Another possible consideration is to use two/three pet foods from different manufacturers including a diet that is not full of legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peas) and has some grain in the product. As we continue to investigate the link between the increased incidence of dilated cardiomyopathy in atypical canine breeds with grain-free diets, we hope to ultimately determine the definitive issue but, for now, we currently do not have that answer.”

CVCA link for info on this grain free diets and heart disease concern in dogs.
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Additional References from the FDA, Washington Post and NY Times:

FDA June 12, 2018 : FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease

Washington Post:  Grain-free, exotic dog food linked to heart disease

New York Times, July 24, 2018:  Popular Grain-Free Dog Foods May Be Linked to Heart Disease