Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy & Diet

Updated: Jun 14

The Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating whether grain-free diets or “boutique diets” may play a role in the development of canine dilated cardiomyopathy. Pet owners are now being warned by their veterinarians that there may be a link to the development of DCM due to an imbalanced diet.


Another popular article states that raw foods might do the same and then note that the addition of taurine made positive differences for dogs diagnosed with DCM:


While raw food diets are being lumped into this category, the study is centered around processed foods that contain legumes (such as peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc.) instead of grains. With all the stories going around in the media, we thought we needed to set the record straight.


Let's Address "Grain Free" Claims

“Grain-Free” is a popular catchphrase used by the pet food industry these days, suggesting that these diets are healthier than the conventional dry food. Is it really healthier? And is raw part of this category?


To do this, let’s start at the beginning … In the last decade, pet guardians have increasingly questioned the conventional approach of feeding their pets processed food.  A stream of this food revolution was the raw food movement. One of the core claims made by the proponents of raw was that fresh meat and some vegetables were the most biologically appropriate foods for dogs and cats, and while dogs and cats could get some calories from grains, it was significantly less beneficial for them as a nutrient source. Today, the pet food market is flooded with “grain-free” foods but many of them are still highly processed foods. The idea behind the benefit of fresh food diets is the presence of minimally processed biologically appropriate ingredients like meats and vegetation as the core of the diet, not the lack of grains. Fresh, unaltered food sources provide the most benefit to animals. Simply, replacing grains with another equally biologically inappropriate ingredient does not mean that it is healthier, especially since it’s still being processed at high temperatures.  


Ingredient Lists for Top Grain-Free Dry Foods and Raw Foods- How Do They Compare?


Kibble

Some of the top processed kibble brands of grain-free pet food have the following listed as their first 5 ingredients:

  • Lamb, Lamb Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Chickpeas...

  • Pasture-raised lamb, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), ocean caught whitefish meal, field peas...

  • Raw grass-fed lamb, lamb meat meal, whole green peas, whole red lentils, raw lamb liver...

  • Beef, lentils, tomato pomace, sunflower oil, natural flavor...

  • Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes...


Raw Food

And let’s look at 5 top Canadian raw food brands for the first 5 ingredients: