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Grain-Free Dog Food Linked to Heart Disease

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So Far, There is no data to support the idea that grain-free diets are better for dogs. 

Veterinarians are warning pet owners against giving their dog grain-free dog food because of the risk of developing a canine heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).

The Grain-Free Marketing Trend

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Many High-End dog foods have developed a Grain-Free option for your dog’s diet.  They boast that the food is better for dogs because removing the grains and glutens reduces allergic reactions in some dogs.  This dog food marketing trend really has taken off and is targeting pet owners with dogs who have various food allergies.

For some dogs, grain-free dog food may be easier to digest versus the dog food choices with grains.  Another reason dog food companies started the grain-free marketing trend was to help dogs with weight issues.  Weight issues can lead to more diseases and injuries.

Studies have shown that feeding dogs to maintain a leaner body weight has more positive effects on their overall health and may increase their life span as well.

Why You Should Stop Giving Your Dog Grain-Free Dog Food

Unfortunately, many grain-free dog foods are made with starch from potatoes, peas, or lentils and they may have a higher fat content. If you cut out the grains but increase the calories, your dog is going to actually gain weight.

Every dog requires a different diet to meet its needs.  Experts recommend working with your dog’s veterinarian to find the best diet that will work for you and your dog.  See my list of Recommended Dog foods that aren’t grain free below.

The Truth About Grain-Free Dog Food

“In July of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an investigation of grain-free, dog food diets and a common type of canine heart disease (DCM).”  – Cardiac Care for Pets

(Dilated Cardiomyopathy aka DCM).  Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle.  It enlarges the heart and causes it to not function properly.

The dilated cardiomyopathy disease is a common cause of heart failure in certain large dog breeds. These dog breeds include Dobermans, Boxers, and Great Danes. German Shepherd Dogs and some medium sized breeds such as English Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels are also known to be affected. Small breeds Rarely develop DCM.

Veterinarians are now noticing that since the Grain-Free dog food Boom, dog breeds that weren’t susceptible to DCM are now getting the disease!

Grain-Free Dog Food Linked to Heart Disease

If your dog doesn’t have a clinical reason (ex: food allergies, GI issues) for use of a limited ingredient dog food diet, it is suggested to use alternative diets instead.  The best way you can be sure your dog is getting a well-balanced diet is to research your dog food’s manufacturer.

Be sure that your dog food manufacturer has good nutritional expertise and excellent quality control.  Search for companies that employ a qualified nutritionist. The right qualifications should include a Ph.D. in animal nutrition or board-certification by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.

Changing your dog’s diet to a food that is made by a well-known company that contains quality ingredients: chicken, beef, rice, etc.. (instead of meat “by-products”).

Grain-free Dog Food Warning Video:

Which Dog Food Brands Cause DCM?

Dog Food Advisor has collected a large list of named dog foods that have been reported to have more cases of DCM.  You can check out the information on their website here.

Dog Food Recommendations (Not Grain-Free)

My Dog’s vet cautioned that I should avoid Grain-free dog foods that have any chickpeas, lentils, peas, or beans in the first 5 ingredients on the dog food label.

Trying to look around for different dog foods and reading all the marketing can be confusing and overwhelming.  Here is a list of recommended dog food brands that don’t have Peas, Lentils, Legumes, or Potatoes.

Grain free dog food causing DCM

Dog Foods without Peas, Lentils, and Potatoes

Dachshund Specific Dog Foods

Q & A Session with CVCA:

In conclusion, Grain-free dog foods are not Healthier for your dog.  Grain-free dog foods have become popular due to marketing. Vets suggest finding a reputable dog food company that employs a Veterinary Nutritionist and performs feeding trials.  My personal Vet recommended: Science Diet, High End Purina Dog Food, and Royal Canin Dog Foods.

Have you ever done a dog food rotation? It’s a good idea to change your dog’s diet up occasionally. Your dog’s regular food may not be meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs.