Genes plus grain-free kibble could spell heart problems for dogs

Local News

The FDA and a Columbus vet agree: a grain-free diet could be linked to heart disease in dogs, and owners should take the warning seriously.

An FDA report says grain-free dog food based on peas, lentils or potatoes can lead to enlarged hearts in some dogs. But the news is confusion for pet owners who took up a grain-free diet for their best friends.

Ed Bourne and his wife foster dogs, and picked out the “highest quality best value food. For us it was the Costco one we ended up with and it was lower on grains,” said Bourne.

The FDA report claims that a grain-free diet could be linked to dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM.

Rebecca Schwarze, Veterinarian at Animal Care Center of Polaris, says it could be both genes and the diet that lead to DCM.

“The classic dog that we think of associated with the DCM is a Doberman,” said Schwarze. “They are genetically pre-disposed to getting that.”

Some dogs can have a deficiency in the amino acid Taurine, which is a building block of protein. But the pet’s medical condition, age, and lifestyle is going to be the real determinant in which diet is best.

Owners can look out for decreased energy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapsing, says Schwarze.

The FDA stayed away from naming a specific brand, but says to check with your vet to see whether the food you’ve chosen works with the dog’s lifestyle.   

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