Link Between Diet and Heart Disease in Dogs

Our response to the FDA article and Dr. Freeman’s claim that grain-free food is bad


Recent headlines have drawn a lot of attention to Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and a potential link the diet your dog eats. DCM is a type of heart disease which can lead to congestive heart failure. Some breeds are predisposed to DCM, meaning they are more likely to contract this disease than other breeds.

The focus of the debate and the data being used to tie it to food is unclear. The FDA warning repeated the claims without any update (after a year of investigation), and they did not issue a recall or further guidance. Stating that certain dog foods can give dogs heart disease makes a great headline, but we really need to understand how those conclusions were reached. This latest round of news is related to last year’s claim that feeding grain-free food can lead to DCM. See Dr. Barrett’s response from last year here:

The food brands listed in the headlines represent many of the fastest growing brands in the country. This is because grains cause a lot of inflammation and infections that so many dog owners are trying to avoid. With so many more dogs now consuming these brands, statistically the percentage of dogs experiencing DCM who happen to eat this diet would also increase. If dogs of breeds predisposed to DCM were also eating these foods, then the food may have no correlation to the diagnosis. Actual data regarding any of this is still missing. Interestingly, this article only supports feeding dry dog food from the top 4 dry food companies…

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume the claims are correct, that SOMETHING is missing in these diets.  Taurine and Carnitine are needed for cardiac health. But ANY nutrient is lost in the process of making dry and canned dog food.  Because the processing step degrades ALL nutrients, the companies ALWAYS have to add back the nutrient before packaging. That means, EVERY dry and canned dog food is eating cardboard with a multi-vitamin.

What if there is a problem with the processing or packaging step that corrupts the multi-vitamin by the time it is fed to the dog? Then the dog would still be eating only cardboard and there would be nutrient deficiency.

How do we fix that? Feed a combination of processed food (easy calories), with real meat, poultry, fish, and dairy, organ meats and balanced raw. Limit the amount of processed food (kibble in a bag) to less than 25% of your dog’s diet. This gives a balance of convenience and optimal nutrition.

You can also add a well sourced multi-vitamin or supplement (rich with calcium) to fill any potential gaps in the nutrition profile.

Our recommendations remain the same; feed fresh, quality ingredients as close to a natural diet as possible.

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