So by now, we are sure you have seen all the posts, read all the articles and heard the debate…about grain free diets. If not, we will bring you up to speed.  Earlier this summer the FDA released a report about grain free diets and a possible link to canine heart disease. Is it true? We don’t quite know yet. But we are here to tell you what we DO know!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has alerted pet owners and all veterinary professionals about reports and studies that suggest a link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in pets that are eating diets containing ingredients such as: peas,lentils,potatoes,legumes and other seeds as the main ingredient.

What is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy aka DCM is a disease of the heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. When the heart and all of it’s components become enlarged it is harder for it to pump blood properly, resulting in the buildup of fluid in the chest and abdomen.  This often leads to congestive heart failure. DCM can be genetic and is studied extensively in certain breeds.

So how is a grain free diet and DCM related?

So far studies suggest that pets eating grain free diets, are lacking in an amino acid called Taurine.

What is Taurine and why does it matter?

Taurine is an amino acid that is found in abundance in the heart and muscle. It is known to aid in strengthening the heart muscle, preventing arrhythmias, prevent muscle deterioration, and many other important functions throughout the body. Taurine can found  naturally in fish products, muscle meat, milk, cheese and eggs. Taurine is NOT found in plants,corn, potatoes,peas or legumes.

Because there are still many unknowns with the studies and reports provided, it is still difficult to say how Taurine is linked to DCM and grain free diets.

Here are our thoughts:

Maybe there is suspicion that too much protein in certain grain free diets are rich in vegetable protein versus animal protein. This is where Taurine comes into play since we know Taurine is found in animal products. When looking at different diets, what matters is the meat content. Meat should be the primary source of protein in a diet not vegetable. Perhaps there is even a theory that certain fillers found in grain free diets affect how Taurine is processed.

So what do we do now?!

Given that there are THOUSANDS of pet food options, it is difficult to separate the good from the bad. Pet owners alike say that ingredients found in their pet’s diet is most important when looking for pet food. The ingredient list found on your pet food bag tells us nothing about the QUALITY of ingredients that make up that food. This can make a decision even harder! While some owners select grain free diets to avoid food allergies, far more often animal protein is the culprit. The bottom line is to stick with basic pet foods that are made by well known, reputable brands. Selecting a diet for your pet is one of the most important factors to your pet’s health, we are here to help! 

Want more information about DCM and grain free diets or about selecting the right pet food for your pet? Visit the trusted websites below!

https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/cvmupdates/ucm613305.htm

http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/06/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-free-diets-and-exotic-ingredients/

http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/tag/grain-free/

https://mckeevervetderm.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/543/2017/09/TaurineDef.Goldens.pdf

https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/news/uc-davis-investigates-link-between-dog-diets-and-deadly-heart-disease

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