3836 Beaver Ave.,
Des Moines, IA 50310

(515) 274-3811

Grain Free Diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

Frequently Asked Questions About Grain Free Diets

1. What is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)? a. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that decreases the ability of the heart to generate enough pressure to pump blood through the vascular system. The walls of the heart become thin and the chambers of the heart become enlarged.

2. Can a grain-free diet cause DCM? a. We don’t know, yet. Veterinary cardiologists started noticing an increase in the number of young dogs being diagnosed with DCM in 2017. This prompted an investigation into their diets. Some trends they found were many (not all) of these dogs were on grain-free diets, diets high in legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas, pinto, etc.), and/or diets with an exotic protein source such as bison or kangaroo.

3. Can I feed a home-cooked, raw diet? a. Even home-cooked and raw diets were identified in these cases.

4. Are there certain ingredients or manufacturers I should avoid? a. We don’t know, yet. The research is ongoing. Not all diets that contain legumes are bad if they are formulated properly. However, not all companies have performed the research to ensure that their diets are fully digestible given the ingredients and amount of ingredients included. b. Certain manufactures were identified as predominating in the number of cases of DCM. However, this does not mean that they are worse than others that are lower on the list. These companies may be better at marketing; thus a greater number of dogs are on the diets.

Additional resources:

1. FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy

2. An Update on Diet Associated with Dilated Cardiomyopathy

3. It’s Not Just Grain-Free: An Update on Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy

4. Choosing Dog Foods After the Grain-Free Scare