Confused about dog grain-free food?

After the FDA report regarding 16 brands of dog food associated with dogs who had developed dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), many dog owners worry about grain-free pet food.

To follow the recommendations of experts studying DCM to feed diets, recently I read an article on Whole Dog Journal – “Update on grain-free diets and DCM cases in dogs”.

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Naming companies was the way to alert a dog owner to check their dog foods and dog condition

Late June the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an update. The only conclusion so far is that “DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors. Hence, the point is, the cause of the DCM cases is still unknown.

The news coverage “There are 16 brands of dog food that are killing dogs” sounds pretty scary. The investigation is based on a potential association between diet and heart disease in fewer than 600 dogs. However, it has inevitably raised as a concern about whether we choose the healthiest products for our dogs.

According to Dr. Jennifer Larsen, a professor of clinical nutrition, department of veterinary medicine at the University of California, pet food labels often focus on ingredients rather than nutrition. Moreover, a lot of the pet food ranking lists available on the internet rely on the label and focus inappropriately on the ingredient list.

Therefore, look at the nutrients, not ingredients. For dog owners, a better understanding of those nutrients in dog food becomes necessarily important.

Consideration for peas, lentils, chickpeas, and  other legume seeds in dog food

The majority of cases using products that were grain-free and contained either peas or lentils, or both. Although the FDA doesn’t suggest avoiding certain brands or diets, it still encouraged a caution with  peas, legume seeds and other ingredients noted as the common thread in the FDA report. Here is the helpful tip when purchasing pet food:

We wouldn’t worry unduly about one of these ingredients appearing on an ingredients panel in a minor role – 6th or 7th or lower on the list, say. But if there is more than one of these ingredients on the list and/or one in one of the top five or so positions on the ingredients list, for now, we’d look for another product to feed our dogs.

Focus on what owners can do immediately to protect their dogs

  • Visit veterinarians as soon as possible if your dogs have signs of DCM. No matter what you feed your dogs. Loss of appetite, pale gums, increased heart rate, coughing, difficulty breathing, periods of weakness, and fainting are signs commonly seen.
  •  Switch among products that are made by different companies, with different ingredients. Experts recommend owners change their food on a regular basis, because different proteins offer a different nutritional spectrum. Dogs like diversity in their food too. 
  • Look for products without peas or legumes for dogs who absolutely can’t consume any grain. Remember that feeding grain-free foods only to dogs with a demonstrated allergy to or intolerance of grains. 

Honestly, My heart skipped a beat when I learned my puppy’s premium kibble might be linked to a serious heart condition. My veterinarian advised I need to notice if my puppy has unusual behaviour. If so, I should bring my fur baby to his clinic immediately.

 

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