Updated information regarding grain-free diets

New and updated information on grain-free diets for pets.

Last year we sent an email to notify our clients about the increasing concern with grain-free diets and a new form of Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

While the research is still being conducted, we wanted provide a reminder.

We understand that there are some essential nutrients missing from some dogs’ diets that are necessary to maintain a healthy heart muscle. About two years ago, a trend was noticed by Veterinary Cardiologists. They were seeing a new form of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dogs and breeds that were not already commonly associated with this problem. They started to look at cases retrospectively and found a link to grain-free diets.

There continues to be extensive research being done to try and identify which nutrients are missing and what we can do to help.

What we know so far …

  • There were 320 cases reported in 2018. 197 cases were reported in 2019 through April 30th. More Information
  • A review of the canine reports show that most reports were for dry dog food formulations. More Information
  • The FDA has been working with veterinarians to get more clarification on the issue. Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates (CVCA) has been providing comprehensive records to the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation & Response Network (Vet-LIRN) for further testing. More Information
  • 16 of the most commonly reported brands (named 10 times or more) are currently being examined closely by the FDA. More Information
  • While the majority of cases reported affect dogs, there have also been some cats affected. More Information

Our Recommendation

As veterinarians, we want to make the best recommendations based on the science and research we have available. At this time, we need to be more proactive in trying to find the actual nutrients that are missing. There is research going into this very important topic. What we do know, is that the retrospective studies did not show these changes in dogs that were fed diets that contained more commonly used grains. The grain-free diets that have tried to replace grains with legumes have been connected but other diets that just eliminate grains are also problematic.

If your dog needs a grain-free diet for medical reasons, please discuss this with your veterinarian as there are prescription diets that are supplementing the nutrients that we suspect are missing. If they do not need these types of diets for medical reasons, we are encouraging owners to transition to grained diets in hopes of avoiding the development of this life-threatening condition.

We are always here if you have any questions or concerns.

Additional Resources