What We Know About Grain-Free Dog Food, DCM and Enlarged Hearts

As a pet food manufacturer focused on nourishing and enriching a lifelong connection between people and their pets, we are diligently monitoring FDA and Pet Food Industry progress toward determining if there is indeed a conclusive connection between grain-free dog foods and DCM.

While nothing is conclusive yet and there is still much work ongoing, we would like to present the facts as they stand today.

It was hard to miss the recent headlines about grain-free pet foods and dogs with enlarged hearts. Alphia and other pet food manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers reviewed the reports with a focus on the facts. What we know today is the FDA’s research on canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is ongoing, and the link between nutrition and the enlarged heart disease is unclear.

Canine DCM Explained

DCM is a serious type of heart disease in dogs that results in an enlarged heart and can be serious if left untreated. Some dog breeds, such as Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Golden Retriever, Boxer and Cocker Spaniel, are genetically prone to the disease. Symptoms of DCM include a decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, coughing and collapse.

What the FDA Says About DCM

The FDA began an investigation into DCM in 2018 after an observed increased in DCM in dogs not previously known to be genetically disposed to the disease. The FDA has not established the exact cause of the recent reported incidents of DCM. Based on information supplied by veterinarians, the FDA is exploring the potential relationship to diet, including ingredients in grain-free diets, and other factors such as dog physiology and genetics.

There have been NO food recalls during the investigation, and the FDA has stressed that it has not advised dietary changes. Of the 89 million dogs in the United States, the vast majority fed the same diet as dogs with DCM have no ill effects. Plus, Pet Food Industry reports that when the FDA analyzed grain-free versus grain-in dog food, there was very little difference in levels of minerals, amino acids, taurine, protein and other nutrients. In the FDA’s study of DCM cases, some dogs had low taurine levels, while others did not. Some of the dogs – but not all – responded to taurine supplementation since low taurine is associated with DCM.

Alphia Is Watching

Like other pet food manufacturers deeply concerned about pet health, Alphia continues to monitor the enlarged heart issue. As we wait for a conclusive answer from the FDA, we will support our customers with formulas that includes nutritious private label and house-brand grain-in and grain-free options that include taurine.

To explore how Alphia can provide or develop quality, safe pet food for your organization, contact us.