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FDA Report: Grain-free Diets associated with Heart Failure in Dogs and Cats.

Food and Drug Administration officials have received 1,100 adverse event reports of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) (Heart Failure) in 1100 Dogs and 20 Cats since January 2014. The cases of heart failure have been associated with feeding grain-free foods, particularly those with high amounts of peas, lentils, or chickpeas and other legume (bean) seeds.

What is DCM? DCM is a heart condition where the chambers of the heart dilate (become enlarged with very thin walls). Thus, the heart cannot pump blood throughout the body effectively. Dogs & cats develop lethargy, weakness, fainting, coughing, rapid breathing, and congestive heart failure with fluid accumulation in the lungs, chest or abdomen.

Between January 2014 through July 2020, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports of 1,100 dogs and 20 cats with DCM fed Grain-Free diets. The FDA Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network analyzed records from 161 dogs with DCM.

Of 121 dogs with DCM, 23 had full recoveries and 84 had only partial recoveries. All dogs that fully recovered received a diet change to a NON-Grain-free diet. They were also treated with taurine, an essential amino acid for heart muscle health, and heart medications (pimobendan). Thus, if your pet’s diet is changed to a NON-Grain Free diet, the is a good chance that they will recover partially or completely.

In at least one study in 2019, the FDA said 93% of dogs identified with DCM, had eaten diets high in peas, lentils, or both, and 91% ate grain-free diets.

This condition: Heart failure associated with Grain-Free Diets is being intensively studied throughout the US at the FDA, universities and veterinary colleges, pet food research institutes at Hill’s, Purina and Royal Canin among others. We don’t have any solid answers yet. Until we do, we advise clients: Do Not feed Grain-Free Diets.

Bottom Line: What do I feed my dog or cat?

We recommend that clients feed food manufactured by one of the 3 big world-wide pet food companies that have been pioneers in animal nutrition. These companies strive to formulate food that prevents rather than cause disease.

We recommend:

  • Royal Canin
  • Purina Pro Plan (the highest quality of over the counter Purina Diet)
  • Hill’s Science Diet

Avoid: Boutique diets. Make sure the bag says “Manufactured BY” Royal Canin.

Avoid bags that say: “Manufactured FOR” or “Distributed by” or “Distributed for”.