By Daisy Luther
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.
- 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.
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?
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.