If you feed your pet a grain-free diet, home-cooked meals or food with exotic and atypical ingredients, you may want to reconsider. Veterinary cardiologists, nutritionists and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are currently investigating a possible link between those types of diets and the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. DCM can result in abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure and even sudden death.
Initially it was thought that those diets might be responsible for a deficiency in taurine, an amino acid essential to heart health in pets. However, most of the pets who have been diagnosed with DCM are not lacking taurine—but all of them were being fed grain-free diets with alternative fillers such as lentils or barley, home-cooked foods, vegetarian meals or a kibble made with a more exotic protein such as kangaroo, duck, or bison. This is true of both DCM-prone breeds and dogs that are not genetically inclined to develop the disease. At this point, researchers are unsure what exactly is causing the uptick in DCM cases, but feel it may be diet-related.
When it comes to feeding your own pets, we recommend switching from a grain-free, exotic protein, vegetarian or completely home-prepared diet. Instead, choose a commercial pet food made by a well-established manufacturer that contains common ingredients, including grains. There is no nutritional proof that a grain-free diet is better for pets, and grain allergies are very uncommon in dogs and cats. If your pet has been determined to be sensitive to grains or certain proteins or ingredients by an allergist or dermatologist, be sure to use diets that carry the AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy statement. We also recommend that you watch your pet for early signs of heart disease: weakness, slowing down, less able to exercise, shortness of breath, coughing, or fainting.
If you have questions about what diet is right for your pet, or think your pet is showing signs of heart problems, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (503) 850-6280. You can also click here to read more about this issue.