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New Client: 904-516-9767
Existing Client: or 904-399-5557
1546 San Marco Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32207

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:

Your Jacksonville, FL Area, Veterinarians Discuss the US FDA Grain-free Diet Study; What It May Mean for Your Pet
  • 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.


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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.

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Meet San Marco Animal Hospital

Dr. Venkat Gutta
San Marco Animal Hospital

Dr. Venkat Gutta moved to the US almost two decades ago to further his passion for veterinary science. Having earned a Master’s Degree in Animal Science in Georgia and having completed the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, he completed clinical rotations at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Gutta then received his license to practice in Florida. For over a decade, he served as an associate veterinarian at the Banfield Pet Hospital. He benefitted from a great amount of exposure and experience, especially in high-quality veterinary medicine and surgeries for soft tissue injuries. To date, Dr. Gutta strives to be approachable to his clients and ensure that they have complete awareness and understanding of the health issues that are faced by their furry friends. His special interests lie in skin issues, behavioral problems, senior pet wellness, nutritional counseling, preventive care, and wellness examinations, particularly relevant to canine and feline medicine. Today Dr. Gutta continues to keep himself updated about modern advances in veterinary science through his memberships in the Jacksonville Veterinary Medical Society and American Veterinary Medical Association.

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Wonderful and very caring service. This hospital rate's are extremely fair and reasonable, they only perform the necessary testing needed unlike other vet places I have been to. I was very impressed with the knowledge and skills of the doctor. I finally found my new vet here in Florida! Lila and Gomez thank you!
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I took my cat to San Marco Animal Hospital and would highly recommend them. Dr. Gutta spent quite a bit of time talking to me about my cat’s health and preventative care. The staff was friendly and even called to check on my cat after his vaccines. Excellent service, and caring providers!
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