You may have heard recent reports of the newly discovered link between grain-free foods and heart disease in dogs. A specific type of heart disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), is being found in dogs who are not genetically predisposed to this condition. It has also been discovered that grain-free foods are not the only foods linked to this issue. Recent reports have also discovered this same problem in dogs being fed boutique foods and exotic ingredient diets.
The exact cause is not 100% clear. Previous reports proposed low levels of an amino acid, called taurine, that is essential for cardiac health to be the culprit, however, most dogs with nutrition-related DCM have adequate taurine levels. Interestingly, when dogs were switched to a non-BEG diet (boutique, exotic, grain-free), most of them did better and the condition was reversible in many cases. Research is ongoing, and until the cause of this life-threatening condition is discovered, it is recommended that boutique brands, exotic ingredients, and grain-free foods be avoided, unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian. It is important to note that none of the Royal Canin prescription exotic protein diets we prescribe have been associated with this condition.
Affected dogs are presenting with exercise intolerance, lethargy (tiredness), coughing, and/or collapse. If you feel your dog is experiencing any of these signs, please call to schedule an appointment for evaluation and pet nutritional counselling.
Another important point to note is how these foods gained a foothold in the pet food industry in the first place. There was a trend started in humans that gluten is harmful and grains are not helpful, but for dogs and cats, this simply isn’t true. True grain allergies are exceedingly rare. Attached, is a nutritional truths fact sheet that should help explain the benefits of grains in dogs and cats.