Linda Prososki, DVM Frances Andersen, DVM

Angela Witt, DVM, DACVIM Dawn Esselman, DVM

February 20, 2019

Dear Friends of Metro Animal Hospital,

Lately there has been a lot of discussion in the news and social media regarding pet foods. There have been recent recalls due to toxic levels of Vitamin D resulting in hypercalcemia and renal failure (see for an up to date list of foods affected by this recall).

In addition, there has been discussion about a diet-associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a disease that results in enlargement of the heart and eventually congestive heart failure. While Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) has a genetic predisposition in large breed dogs (especially the Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound), it is uncommon in smaller dogs. Recently, a few hundred cases of DCM (including many from atypical breeds) have been reported to the FDA. A “common denominator” in these cases has been a boutique, exotic ingredient, or grain free diet (BEG). It is unclear if something in these diets is contributing to development of the disease, or if they are missing essential nutrients, or if multiple factors are at play. A deficiency in the amino acid taurine is a known cause of DCM, but most dogs with diet- associated DCM have not been found to be taurine deficient. Currently, there are concerns that legumes, or even potatoes, may be part of the problem. The reality is that we just don’t know, but there is active, ongoing research and we hope to learn more soon. We do know that most dogs being fed a BEG diet will not develop DCM.

For now, if you want to err on the side of caution, we recommend that you feed your dog a high quality food from one of the larger, well known pet food companies and that you consider avoiding grain free foods, or foods with legumes. We do not recommend raw or long term home cooked diets, unless guided by a nutritionist.

At this time, heart disease associated with BEG diets has been reported in a very small number of cats.

If you have questions regarding diet or DCM, or if you are worried about your pet, please discuss this with your veterinarian at your next visit, or give us a call.

The following link may also prove useful:

Thank you for trusting us to provide the best care possible for your pets.


The Doctors and Staff and Metro Animal Hospital

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