Grain Free Diets and Heart Disease

     I am writing to inform you of a growing problem with our canine pet population.  Veterinary cardiologists have recently seen an increase in the number of dogs presenting with advanced heart disease that are being fed “Grain Free” diets.  As of 08/24/2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received approximately 200 reported cases of heart disease that are suspected to be related to their diet.     The affected dogs are presenting with a condition known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).  This condition causes the heart muscles to become extremely thin with very poor function.  Most dogs will not show symptoms until the disease is very advanced or the pet is in congestive heart failure.  The following link describes DCM in greater detail:
https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952598

     At this time, the cardiologists and nutritionists are uncertain of the cause for this problem but are working diligently to find an answer.  There is no single brand that has been implicated.   The affected dogs were fed an over-the-counter “Grain Free” diet that had potato, peas, lentils or other legumes as one of the top ingredients.  Additionally, some of the diets also contain specialized meat proteins (ie kangaroo).  The affected dogs have ranged in age from young puppies (5-6 months old) to geriatric dogs.

     We recommend that owners avoid feeding “Grain Free” diets to their dog until we have more information about this condition.  Please contact your veterinarian to discuss which diet would be appropriate for your pet’s needs.  The following link will guide you to information from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Guidelines for selecting a quality food for your pet:
https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Arpita-and-Emma-editorial/Selecting-the-Best-Food-for-your-Pet.pdf

     It is important to understand that this is preliminary information only.  We will keep you informed as we learn more information.  Please contact your veterinarian if your pet is exhibiting any of the symptoms of heart disease such as breathing heavily, weight loss or a new murmur at your pet’s annual exam.

Eric E. Brooks, DVM
Current as of 10/31/18

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