The FDA released an update June 27 on its investigation into canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Concerns were raised last year on a possible connection to some diets labeled as “grain-free”. Specifically diets containing a high proportion of peas, lentils and/or other legumes. After reviewing the release it becomes apparent that they have reached no conclusions and they basically have no new evidence at this time to reach any conclusions. They included the number of cases by breed of dog which as one would expect is dominated by Golden Retrievers and or Golden Retriever mixes along with Labrador Retrievers and Great Danes. The diets that have been reported to the FDA were heavy with “grain-free” products and very heavy in peas and/or lentils as the carbohydrate source. However, potatoes were also included in the diets of 42% of the reported cases. Potatoes are not a legume. And there were still about 10% of the diets containing “grain” included as well. Also of interest was that 348 of the 515 cases of DCM reported Chicken, lamb and fish were primary protein sources.
Nutritional research indicates that taurine is generally not considered an essential amino acid for dogs, because these animals can synthesize taurine from cysteine and methionine. Nearly all the grain-free products had methionine-cystine values above the minimum nutritional requirement of 0.65 percent for adult maintenance food for dogs published in the AAFCO Official Publication (OP).
The FDA is still gathering information to better understand if (and how) taurine metabolism (both absorption and excretion) may have a role in these reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy.
The FDA concludes:
Based on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.
We will keep you updated. There are a lot of “irregularities” in the FDA update that have been released so far. Interesting to note that the Vet brands and a couple of majors (Purina, Hills, RC) are not included in the list even though some of them utilize pea proteins and legumes in “grain free” foods. The majors that pour buckets of money into vet schools. However, We understand if you are concerned and we have many alternatives to “grain free”.