The Risks of Grain Free Diets

The Risks of Grain Free Diets for your Pets

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating Canine Nutritional Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) as it relates to grain free diets.

What is a grain free diet? A diet made without wheat, corn, rice or other grains.

What is DCM? The heart muscle is unable to contract properly so the heart dilates or enlarges. Blood and pressure can build up in the heart and body, causing fluid leakage into the chest cavity, lungs, or abdomen, and it can lead to congestive heart failure and sudden death. Signs include decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing, episodes of collapse and exercise intolerance. Symptoms may take years to start showing.

Over 1100 cases of dogs affected have been reported to the FDA, but the actual number is likely considerably higher.

Of the dogs diagnosed, 90% ate only grain free diets.

The good news is that upon stopping a grain free diet, many dogs were able to recover with treatment within 7-13 months.

Cats are likely affected by this as well, but there are not enough studies yet to confirm.

What can you do?

Get informed! Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s food or ask for a food recommendation. If you think your pet may be affected, a veterinary cardiologist can diagnose DCM with an echocardiogram.

Check the ingredients and make sure your pet’s food contains grains and does not list more than 1 potato, sweet potato or pulse (peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans), and NOT in the first 5 ingredients.

Feed foods from manufacturers that have a veterinary nutritionist on board and conduct Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) food trails. Most foods from Hills Prescription Diet, Hills Science Diet, Royal Canin and Purina meet the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines. These foods can be purchased at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic or though our online store

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