The Potential Risks of Feeding a Grain-free Diet
Dear Valued Client,
We have received many inquiries regarding the potential risks of feeding a grain-free diet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently investigating a potential link between Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and grain-free diets. Of the extremely large number of dogs currently on grain-free diets, only a small number (approximately 500) of DCM cases have been reported. While diet is suspected to play a role in these cases, the specific cause is still unknown. Some cases are thought to be associated with a deficiency in the amino acid Taurine, however this claim is still unsubstantiated. It is likely that these cases resulted from a predisposition to DCM, which then progressed due to other factors.
As this is a fluid situation, we are continuing to consult with veterinary nutritionists and veterinary cardiologists, along with the FDA. At this time, the BHPH doctors feel that no drastic changes in diet are recommended. If concerned, a switch to a grain-based diet within your current brand of pet food is suggested. Taurine supplements can also be purchased online. 250mg per day is an appropriate dose, but this may not be necessary for your pet. If no grain-based foods within your current brand are presently available, brands that are recommended include Country Naturals, NutriSource, Natural Balance (lamb and brown rice), and Performatrin. Many brands that currently only offer grain-free diets, such as Acana and Merrick, are also monitoring the situation and will adjust their diets accordingly to likely include grain.
More information can be found on the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University website, published by the board-certified veterinary nutritionist Dr. Lisa M. Freeman.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with specific questions regarding your pet’s health. Bringing your pet in for bi-annual examinations, where we will listen for the presence of a new heart murmur and assess other risk factors for DCM, continues to be the best form of prevention.
The BHPH Team