In this month’s issue, we will discuss a very common dilemma that many owners face at one point with their dog’s diet. From a few years ago, many companies surfaced with allegations of how grain-free food is very beneficial for a dog’s growth. However, there was no substantial proof or research provided that could justify these claims. Despite the lack of peer-reviewed researched articles providing proof, many dog owners immediately switched their furry companion’s food to a strict, grain-free diet. Grain-free diets for dogs were either given based on brands available in this category or certain foods were overall restricted, like: corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley and other grains.

Last month, an investigation was lead by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), showing how research studies have proven that there is a connection between grain-free diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. This investigation began as a result of the FDA receiving 524 reports of DCM in grain free diet dogs between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019. Out of this number, 515 were dogs and 9 were cats. This overall number however is potentially higher due to some reports contained multi- pet households; therefore, some pets were not accounted for that showed this similar pattern.

DCM is one of the most common heart diseases found in dogs. This heart condition causes the heart to create less pressure which aids in pumping blood through your dog’s body, or vascular system. There are many breeds which are naturally predisposed to this heart disease, such as Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Boxers and Cocker Spaniels. In next month’s article, we will discuss Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy in greater detail for our readers’ knowledge.

The issued, investigative report by the FDA outlined major grain- free brands that are commonly used by owners in North America, and their effects on causing DCM. The following is a list released by the FDA, showing a breakdown of the reports issued for each popular brand:

1. Acana (67 reports)

2. Zignature (64 reports)

3. Taste of the Wild (53 reports)

4. 4Health (32 reports)

5. Earthborn Holistic (32 reports)

6. Blue Buffalo (31 reports)

7. Nature’s Domain (29 reports)

8. Fromm (24 reports)

9. Merrick (16 reports)

10. California Natural (15 reports)

11. Natural Balance (15 reports)

12. Orijen (12 reports)

13. Nature’s Variety (10 reports)

14. Nutrisource (10 reports)

15. Nutro (10 reports)

16. Rachael Ray Nutrish (10 reports)

We strongly advise that if you are feeding your dog a grain- free diet, then please highly re-consider doing so. Unless your veterinarian has advised a particular diet for your individual pet, it is important to educate yourself fully as an owner before changing your dog’s diet drastically. Just as how not including certain elements in your own diet can lead to diseases or ailments, not including particular ingredients in your pet’s diet can lead to the same as well.

Dr. Sifti Bhullar, DVM