What Dog Owners Need to Know About the FDA’s Grain-Free Diet Alert - ScienceOnDogs

What Dog Owners Need to Know About the FDA’s Grain-Free Diet Alert


Author: Jane McClaughlin

Anytime you hear or read something in the news about a pet food recall, or a tragic story about pets who have died because of bad quality or contaminated food, it can be heartbreaking and alarming.

When the FDA recently put out an alert warning dog owners about the possible relationship between dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and grain-free diets, it rightfully caused alarm within the dog parent community.

Before going down the rabbit hole of worry, let’s address the facts.
The FDA received several reports of dogs being diagnosed with DCM that were breeds not typically prone to it. DCM actually isn’t considered to be a rare condition in dogs, but it does have more prevalence in large breeds. Therefore, the FDA considered these reports unusual enough to merit further inquiry.

What veterinary and nutrition experts know right now, is that there are multiple possible causes for diet-associated DCM. For instance, experts have identified taurine-deficient dogs as a group that has a higher incidence of DCM, though not all DCM patients are low in taurine, not even most of them.

Unfortunately, the problem is going to require further analysis to land on some more concrete explanations and prevention protocols.

What does this mean?

What the alert means for you and your pet right now, is there is no major cause for concern or for an immediate overhaul of your dog’s diet. The alert is simply a correlated factor that experts at the FDA, as well as across veterinary science, are examining.

In general, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your dog’s vitals like energy, breathing, mood, and food consumption. Early signs of heart disease include weakness, slowing down, less able to exercise, shortness of breath, coughing or fainting, so watch out for these, especially if your dog is a large or giant breed.

If your dog isn’t experiencing any symptoms, most vets and pet parents would agree that it’s best not to disrupt their diet, particularly if they have sensitivities or intolerances to grain or other commonly allergy-related ingredients.

There are tests that can be run by your veterinarian for DCM if you need peace of mind, but all you need to do at this point to keep your pets happy and healthy is monitor them and continue to take them to your vet for regular heart health checkups.


  • Posted on June 29, 2019

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