Grain Free FDA Alert

By December 10, 2018Uncategorized

A recent FDA alert about the possible connection between grain free diets and heart disease has been posted. Of course, pet owners have tons of questions about it. The main concern is that certain categories of dog foods may inadvertently contribute to heart disease by interfering with the body’s utilization of Taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that is vital to heart function. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a potential cause of heart disease, but it is not the only cause. Nutritional makeup of the main ingredients listed, how dogs process them, and the amount used could be involved.

Some facts that we do know are that there seems to be a correlation between the following foods and heart disease:

  1. Boutique diets (made by small maufacturers)
  2. Exotic ingredients such as rabbit, duck, kangaroo etc..
  3. Foods that are labeled ‘Grain Free’ which tend to have legumes as a main ingredient (peas, lentils, or potatoes)
There are still a lot of things that we don’t know. We do not know why this is happening or if it is just about the ingredient list. It is not proven that the problem is truly grain free.  Does it only look that way because the actual problem is small companies with manufacturing errors? It’s not kibble vs home cooked. Vets see plenty of Taurine deficiency cardiomyopathies from pet owners who are home cooking an imbalanced diet.
We do not want you to panic or believe that the issue is as simple as PEAS ARE BAD. You do not need to immediately dispose of all grain free dog food. It is important to know where you can become educated to gain the knowledge necessary to make an informative decision. Steps we advise include talking to your vet and reading the statement released by the FDA. We recommend feeding a dog or cat food that is AAFCO certified. If your pet doesn’t NEED grain free, consider a diet with grain. Food allergies in pets are typically protein sensitive.
It is also valuable to know what the signs of heart disease are. Symptoms include weakness, shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, and coughing. If your pet is ever experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian. The FDA is working with board certified veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the clinical presentation of the cases submitted. What is most important is knowledge and love because we know you just want what’s best for you pets.

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