With the recent June 27, 2019 US FDA update linking Grain Free dog food to DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy - Heart Failure) in dogs, I feel I need to let people know that this is REAL. If I can help prevent one more person from losing their dog to heart failure and get people to read pet food ingredient labels and chose wisely, this post will be worth it.
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. The FDA investigation is ongoing and nowhere near finished but they provided an update on June 27th.
According to the FDA, the brand of grain free 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 and promoted 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 from a blood clot to her brain 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. He's my best buddy and he is always by my side. Jake is still with us but he is now on multiple medications for his heart and medications to help him breathe better. He can walk only half a block and back at most without his tongue turning blue and getting out 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 his life but I don't know how long he will last.
Several of our other dogs and some of our housecats were also on that particular brand of pet food. (There is evidence grain free food may also cause heart failure in cats too but it's still under investigation). When that FDA update came out in June, all the dog and cat food in the house listed on the FDA warning list, 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 try and 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. I'm still searching for safe and appropriate food for one dog (a 7 yr old black Lab), with multiple and severe food allergies. And yes, for that dog I've already tried it all over the years - commercial, raw food, homemade etc. In fact I think that's the reason Jake our chocolate Lab is still with us - he can eat anything and when the other dog with allergies would react to a food, I gave the rest to Jake mixed with his regular food to finish it. Our Vet told me one of her colleagues (a veterinarian) has a 2 year old dog with heart failure who was eating this same food. . . and there are others.
We all want to feed our pets healthy, well balanced food and 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. It's heartbreaking to lose an otherwise healthy dog because the food he/she was eating made them sick.
Who's to blame? As pet parents we're all attracted to new, improved, pet food and treats containing many healthy ingredients we eat ourselves. Flashy pet food bags in appealing 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 could happen. Pet food manufacturers are using new and different ingredients than they did 20 or 30 years ago just 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 the ongoing FDA investigation and 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.
I want to urge you to Please read the labels on your dog and cat's food. Many Non-grain free foods also contain at least one of the ingredients: PEAS, LENTILS or POTATOES. It's very hard to find a food that doesn't if you don't want to take any chances! Review the US FDA reports online, as well as the June 2019 list of pet foods that are on the FDA warning list and do make other pet owners aware of this. Some people haven't heard of this issue yet. I don't want someone else to lose their dog.
May you keep your dogs (and cats) healthy, safe and happy!
Kelly - owner of Regal Hound Designs
*Since People have asked:
Premium brand dog food without ANY peas, lentils or potatoes is hard to find, especially food with small size pieces suitable for both small and large dogs. I did try Holistic Select Adult Health, Chicken Meal and Rice (Purple bag) - the small dogs ate it however Jake didn't like it. Back to the store I went and I switched the dogs to Purina One True Instinct - which has no peas, lentils or potatoes. It has corn in it, but corn has been in dog food for probably 50 years. Right now, the dogs are enjoying the Purina One and it's also easier on the budget.
- I also add a few spoonfuls of canned food, cooked meat or homemade dog food that does not contain any of those ingredients