The FDA's Investigation into DCM
We will be constantly updating this post with our most recent information regarding the investigation along with any context that we can provide.
Update 1: August 21, 2018
The FDA has not come forward with anything new but there is more and more commentary about this being published. One that we particularly liked was from the editor of Pet Business magazine. The entire article can be found here but the key point brought to light is the lack of information that the FDA has provided and that this announcement may have been premature enough so as to cause unwarranted concern and panic in the industry. This is a sentiment that we subscribe to as well.
Taken at face value, this warning is alarming, to say the least. However, when you look more closely, it becomes clear that there is very little hard evidence about what connection the ingredients might have to DCM—if there is any connection at all.
So the overall point here is that it’s really easy for today’s news to become over sensationalized and when faced with a lack of clear information from the FDA we should all take a collective deep breath and see what the future brings for us.
That said, please see your vet with any odd behavior in your pet and read our article on understanding if a grain free diet is for you or not.
Original Post: August 15, 2018
About a month ago, the FDA made a statement that they were opening an investigation into certain grain free kibble diets and how they may be related to a specific type of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM. We now have three responses from major pet food manufacturers and we felt it was time for a quick update.
- The FDA has officially stated that they are aware of an increased occurrence of DCM related deaths in dog breeds that have not historically suffered from DCM.
- The FDA is investigating grain free kibble diets as one possibility for the increased occurrence of DCM deaths.
- The FDA opened this inquiry after the CVCA (a practice of 19 veterinary cardiologists in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area) passed along information showing that they have seen an increase in DCM related deaths and that it may be related to grain free pet food
- The CVCA made this correlation based on questioning 150 people that recently experienced DCM related pet deaths.
- No specific pet food companies have been named at this time.
What Are the Manufacturers Saying?
At this point, there’s been a lot of silence. However, three of the brands we carry have officially come forward with statements on this issue. Instinct, FirstMate and Nulo are all saying the same thing; the issue isn’t the inclusion of peas or legumes (which replace the grains in a grain free kibble) but instead is the lack of animal protein in lower quality grain free kibble.
So…Are They Right?
Honestly, we have been formulating our own opinions internally here at BPE, and the statements from FirstMate, Instinct and Nulo all align with the direction we have been headed. Grain free diets can be a great, easy source of nutrition for your dog, but like we mentioned in our first post on this issue, your dog is still a descendent of the Grey Wolf and it needs protein from animal sources.
Why is Animal Protein Important?
Dogs require the amino acid taurine for normal healthy bodily function and taurine is naturally found in animal muscle and organ tissue. The reason we are interested in taurine is because one of the factors in DCM may be low taurine levels in the blood. While dogs can and do synthesize their own taurine, a diet with low taurine levels will most likely have an effect later in life.
So Where Are We Now?
First things first, let’s keep some perspective here. There are roughly 90 million dogs in the US. Grain free kibble sales are approximately 20% of total pet food sales. Grain free is typically more expensive so we’ll call it 15 million dogs are on grain free diets. The FDA made this announcement based on the unscientific polling of 150 pet owners in one small part of the country. We don’t know if this is an issue outside the US or even if it is an issue outside the Baltimore Washington D.C. area.
The good news is that we are keeping tabs on everything for you! When we know more, you will know more. Keep talking to us about the issue; your concerns, information you hear, all of it is great. Keep tabs on our facebook and instagram accounts for more information.