FDA Investigating Grain Free Dog Food As a Potential Link to Heart Disease
If you have pets chances are you want them to be as healthy as possible, for many dog owners that's a "grain free" diet. However, the FDA is now warning about certain grain-free foods.
If you're like me, chances are your pets are family (see above, I sometimes make them wear party hats to celebrate their birthdays haha!), so you want to make sure they eat good food, and are taken care of. For many they believe grain-free dog food is the best route. I feed my dogs crazy expensive grain free food, that's supposed to be a very good food for them. My dog Wrigley has allergies, and we she was younger I went crazy researching food, that wouldn't upset her allergies. I found she did better on grain-free food, and also she is allergic to chicken (because of course she is haha)!
But when I asked my vet his exact words were "if it's working for Wrigley, then I wouldn't change it, but grain free isn't always necessarily better. Look for the letters AAFCO on the bag of food, that means the food meets certain standards." AAFCO the American Feed Control Officials, it's a non profit that sets standards for animal and pet feeds in the US. Since then Wrigley hasn't had many issues so I haven't rocked the boat, but now I just might, this is concerning.
Just recently the FDA issued a warning about certain grain- free foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients being a potential link to Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).
According to the FDA here's what DCM can cause:
Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s 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, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure. Heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, if caught early.
The FDA also says that while, DCM's cause is unknown, it has been thought to be a genetic issue. But they're having more and more reports of dogs developing DCM who are not of the breeds it typically effects, which is leading them to find a common link. So that's where the grain-free food comes in.
Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other “pulses” (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian ( Source: FDA report, here).
Both of my dogs are on grain-free food, and when I looked a the label, peas and potatoes are both listed in the main ingredient list after meat. So I'm definitely going to be reaching out to my vet, and getting his thoughts on this.
You can read the FDA's full report and warning here.