News // 5.7.19

Take care when choosing Grain Free Diets

There has been a flourish of dog foods coming onto the market claiming the title ‘Grain Free’. Although these diets look like they would be a healthy option to feed your pets they may not necessarily always be safe.

In July 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration warned about a possible relationship between dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and the consumption of grain free dog food formulated with potatoes and pulse ingredients (such as peas and legumes). These ingredients are used to make to food into dry forms instead of grains.

These diets appear to meet nutritional requirements; however, differences between individual dog’s digestion and fermentation of these foods may lead to nutrient deficiency.

It is not known exactly what is causing these dogs to develop this deadly heart disease but it is postulated to involve deficiency in the amino acid Taurine as this has been linked to DCM in dogs. However, many of the dogs that were fed grain free diets that developed DCM had normal taurine levels too. In many cases that have been diagnosed early, changing the diet to a premium balanced dry food was able to reverse the disease process. Other dogs have not been so lucky.

DCM is a heart condition resulting in an enlarged, weak heart that cannot pump blood efficiently. Dogs with DCM can tire easily, cough and have trouble breathing. More dramatically, they might exhibit sudden weakness, collapse, faint or die with no warning.

Lisa Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist and researcher at Tufts University, along with other experts, points out that grain-free pet diets should be viewed with scepticism. She notes, “contrary to advertising and popular belief, there is no research to demonstrate that grain- free diets offer any health benefits over diets that contain grains”. There is no research to suggest that dogs are gluten intolerant.

Some of the brands that have been involved in the US cases are shown in this graph. Some of these brands are sold in Australia such as Earthborn Holistic.

Premium dog food diets have not been linked with the disease and as long as they are fed in correct portion sizes don’t lead to weight gain or ill health. Puppies have benefited greatly from commercial well balanced diets as we no longer see growth related bone diseases when puppies are fed a fully balanced diet.

To read the recent article and brands identified click the link below

https://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=53973&callshare=1

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