US FDA Grain-Free Diet Study is showing an increased risk for heart conditions in our pets.
Nutritional counseling is a cornerstone of our animal hospital. In fact, many of our veterinarians, including Dr. Gutta, have taken special interest with focused knowledge and training in the field of nutrition. There is no denying the role that dietary interventions can play in improving the overall health of our pets and even in treating a range of diseases. We are privileged to serve as a credible resource in Jacksonville, FL, to dispel fact from fiction when it comes to the latest research on animal nutrition. Notably, in 2018, the US FDA issued an alert related to findings from its grain-free diet study. Understandably, this alert caused considerable concern among the pet-owning and animal care community. A few of the key findings from this study included:
- The investigation was triggered by atypical cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) that were reported to the FDA among breeds not genetically predisposed to the disease, which often results in heart failure.
- The administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network found that affected dogs consistently ate foods with ingredients such as peas, lentils, seeds, and their proteins, starches, and fibers as a primary nutritional source for months and years. Products labeled as “grain-free” are commonly formulated with significant levels of legumes and potatoes.
- Affected breeds included retrievers, whippets, and miniature schnauzers. Conventionally, larger and giant bread such as Great Danes and Irish wolfhounds have been affected more frequently by DCM.
In a 2019 update, the FDA “named names” and identified 16 dog food brands that account for the most frequently-reported cases of DCM. The FDA has reportedly been working with the pet food manufacturing industry to identify the reason “why” there has been such a spike in atypical DCM in recent years, notably, whether changes in ingredient, sourcing, processing, or formulations are to blame.
The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) cited research by Dr. Laura Freeman that demonstrated a “consistent connection” between a higher risk of DCM and dogs that consume “BEG” diets. These diets are manufactured by “Boutique companies,” made from “Exotic ingredients,” and are formulated as “Grain-free.” Cardiology specialists noted in the JAVMA announcement that they suspect that some breeds such as golden retrievers have something in their genetic make-up which interferes with their ability to make taurine. This amino acid is found in meats and dairy products and acts as a critical neurotransmitter, cell membrane stabilizer, among other vital functions. Diets with fewer “building blocks” for taurine or dietary components that inhibit such synthesis may result in the presence of DCM.
We at San Marco Animal Hospital are privileged to be your partners in pet health and wellness, including healthy nutrition. We welcome your questions and concerns. Call 904-516-9767 or drop by our hospital in Jacksonville, FL.