“I heard there was a recall of the brand of grain-free dog food we use.”
Like the old game of “telephone,” messages can get jumbled up when information goes through a few channels before getting to us. Contrary to the calls we received recently, none of our pet food brands have ordered any type of recent recall. News reports and social media posts have been making some people nervous.
We get it. We love our pets, too. But it’s important to make sure we know the facts before jumping to any conclusions.
Here’s what we know: Some 500 cases of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) have been reported by the FDA. Of the 77 million million dogs in this country, that amounts to a tiny fraction. While the FDA is saying there may be a link to grain free diets, it acknowledges that we don’t know what is causing this disease. Further they are not advising change in diet based only on the information gathered to this point.
We think it’s irresponsible for the FDA to call out specific brands without actually knowing what’s causing DCM, and confuse consumers by suggesting they make no changes in their pet’s diet.
Also, it’s not necessarily the absence of grains: What’s being studied is the presence of peas, lentils and potatoes.
DCM has been studied since 1999 (20 years ago!), well before “grain-free dog food” was on our radar. The new FDA study could be influenced by the fact that the people feeding these types of foods are more invested in the health of their dogs, leading to a higher level of reporting. Plus the reporting could be skewed by the fact that the FDA has requested vets report the DCM only if they think food is the cause. For example, if Fido has DCM and is eating grain free then it must be the food and will be reported, but if Spot has DCM and is eating a grain inclusive food then it’s probably not the food and won’t be reported.
There are many reasons to go with a grain-free diet. A low carb diet that is high in moisture and animal-based protein is ideal for your pet. Carbohydrates are often difficult for dogs to digest, and tend to make stools larger and smellier. As we humans know, carbs and starches break down into sugar, which can lead to weight gain, inflammation, diabetes and cancer. Dogs get limited nutritional value from eating carbs, and there is evidence that suggest a higher carb diet my reduce absorption of certain nutrients.
If your dog is doing well on a high quality grain-free food, there is no reason to stop feeding it to her. If you are concerned, get your dog tested for taurine deficiency. We do suggest rotating brands of food and regularly adding whole foods to your pet’s kibble. Feel free to ask us for recommendations! We will be adding an assortment of nutrient-dense, high-moisture options to compliment your dogs kibble. Keep your eyes peeled for our new freezer area dedicated to healthy add-ons!
If you do decide to try a grain-inclusive variety, Green Tails Market carries several varieties. We’re happy to help you find one that makes you and your dog happy.