With the recent June 27, 2019 US FDA update linking Grain Free dog food to DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy - Heart Failure) in dogs, I want to let people know this is a real concern. People need to read pet food ingredient labels and chose wisely.
Our two Labrador Retrievers, (pictured above as puppies) have both been affected. They were 2 months apart in age and raised together, eating the same food. Both dogs contracted DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy - Heart Failure). The FDA has released a list of 16 grain free dog foods that have been indicated in the illness or death of multiple dogs. The 3 ingredients that concern the FDA the most are pet foods containing PEAS, LENTILS, or POTATOES. It's not just grain free food, but all dog food containing PEAS, LENTILS, or POTATOES should be avoided.
According to the FDA, the brand of dog food our Labs ate for all their adult lives is at the top of the FDA warning list. It's not cheap, it contained ingredients that were supposed to be healthy, and we have fed it to our dogs and cats for years, trusting we were giving them a healthy diet. Even our Vet clinic sold it.
Our yellow female Lab, Lexi was diagnosed with DCM at age 6. She was put on cardiac medications and received frequent follow up checks at the vet. She was a very active dog, healthy, well trained, and was my adult son's best friend who went everywhere with him and his family. In January 2018 she died suddenly at the Emergency Vet of a massive stroke due to poor heart function. She had just been to the Vet 2 weeks prior and was doing well. She was 8 years old.
Our chocolate male Lab, Jake was diagnosed with DCM in March 2019 at age 9 years old. Jake is now on multiple medications for his heart and needs frequent Vet visits and tests. He can only go for a very short walk - only half a block and back at most without his tongue turning blue, coughing, and being short of breath. He's a big boy - 115 lbs and I'm afraid he'll collapse on the sidewalk and I won't be able to pick him up. He's still enjoying himself but he can't do many of the things he used to do.
Our Vet told me one of her colleagues (a veterinarian) has a 2 year old dog with heart failure who was eating the same food our Labs ate. . . and there are other dogs affected.
When the FDA update came out in June, all the dog and cat food in the house, including new unopened bags went into the garbage. I've done hours of research, reading labels, talking to the Vet and the pet food retailers, to find suitable, healthy food that doesn't contain PEAS, LENTILS or POTATOES. A lot of Non-grain free foods also contain one or more of those ingredients.
Who's to blame? As pet parents most of us will travel to the moon and back to give our pets anything they need, or even go without items we need for ourselves to pay for it. We are attracted to pet food and treats containing healthy ingredients we eat ourselves. Flashy pet food bags in bright colors, each one saying the food is healthy and full of wonderful ingredients. But dogs and cats have different requirements and they are not humans (even though some act like they are). If the pet food manufacturers put bad ingredients in pet food on purpose they would certainly be subject to legal action. But I don't think they used ingredients that made our dogs sick on purpose or knew this would happen.
The research on how the food affects pets long term just isn't there. Manufacturers are using new and different ingredients than they did 20 or 30 years ago to be appealing to pet owners. It now turns out that some of these new more human style ingredients (or they way they are processed into pet food), may cause illness and death in dogs. With more people becoming aware of this problem, the pet food manufacturers will have to reformulate their pet food or they will go out of business. In the meantime, many of us will be searching for new food for our pets to eat. Don't overlook some of the older tried and true brands but check their ingredient labels first. PEAS, LENTILS or POTATOES in pet food should be avoided completely. Animal nutrition experts also recommend people add homemade healthy food to their dog's diet and switch dry food brands often. Health problems can occur when dogs eat the same brand of dry food for a long period of time. A raw diet isn't suitable for some of our dogs so the dogs are now eating 1/2 dry food with 1/2 homemade food. (1/3 cooked meat, 1/3 cooked vegetables, 1/3 black beans or chickpeas, or rice, or oatmeal cooked together as a stew in a broth base). You can make a big batch in a soup pot or crock pot and freeze in containers. And we switch and rotate their dry food brands (that are pea, potato and lentil free), every couple of months.
If you have concerns about your dog, see your Veterinarian. Coughing, shortness of breath, being tired, poor appetite, weakness, are a few symptoms of heart failure. For more info, review the US FDA reports online, as well as the June 2019 list of pet foods that are on the FDA warning list and make other pet owners aware of this. Some people haven't heard of this issue yet.