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FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease

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dog person

July 12, 2018

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating this potential association."         https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm613305.htm

I am not overly concerned as my dogs have been doing well on a grain-free kibble as a base for a while now.    But till the results of this investigation are in, I have decided to try Fromm Classic Adult, mixing it in with the other kibble (base).

That is what some vets are telling pet owners that voice concerns to do,  switch to a grain inclusive kibble for now,  till we know more about the possible connection (or not) with grain free and heart disease. 

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sanford

I recently read about these new findings and will ask my vet about them at my next appointment, but I'm not expecting much feedback. In the past, whenever I mentioned newspaper reports about new medical studies, discoveries, etc. to my vet or any of my doctors for that matter, they disregarded them for various reasons, claiming the reporting was flawed, the studies were flawed, the findings were biased or inaccurate, etc., etc. and invariably dismissed them.

This investigation looks very provocative and I'm hoping it leads to more good info in the future. In recent years grains have been looked on as cheap, worthless "fillers", with no nutritional value, their sole purpose being to bulk--up the product and the manufacturers bottom line, so in some respects it seems like we are going back to square one.

What to do❓

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Terrier lover
Spoiler

 

We give both dogs half a sardine (packed in water) daily. That takes care of any taurine issues. And of course they are packed with all kinds of other highly nutritious goodies.

Hit spoiler in error and can’t seem to get rid,of it.

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dog person

Boiled eggs and chicken are also rich in taurine.

https://www.wkrn.com/news/fda-warns-grain-free-dog-food-could-be-linked-to-heart-disease/1317046044

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - The FDA is highlighting recent reports that connect heart failure to grain-free diets.

The problem is not caused by a lack of grains in your dog's food. The added food, which is intended to replace the grains, is the issue. 

Dave Soiferman of Seminole Heights owns a dog. We asked him what he feeds her. 

 

"We use a brand that, I think, is mainly chicken and turkey and sweet potatoes and things like that," Soiferman told WFLA. 

The sweet potatoes are a clue. 

"I think it is grain-free then," he concluded. 

We are told potatoes, peas, lentils and other types of legumes are common ingredients in grain-free dog food.

Dr. Jeannette Bimonte, a veterinarian at the Dale Mabry Animal Hospital, shared some advice with 8 On Your Side.

"I would say stay away from the grain-free diets," she said. "They are blocking the essential amino acids that are needed for the heart function."

You may be able to spot some signs of heart trouble in your dog. 

"Does your dog have exercise intolerance? They cannot make it around the block like they used to. They cannot chase the ball like they used to. They get winded early," Dr. Bimonte said.

If you would like to pull your dog off of a grain-free diet, you can do it but must do so carefully. 

"[You should] have a talk with your vet and figure out a diet that your pet should be on," Dr. Bimonte said. "Obviously, always do a slow transition because we do not want to upset their stomachs." 

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dog person

Just an update to let you know we are pleased with Fromm Adult Classic,   both dogs are transitioning very well to it with no problems,  my neighbor's dog is okay with it too (she preferred Zignature).   I suspect Fromm Classic may be a bit bland in comparison.  

We consider kibble to be the base, we always add to it, especially a little water.

I have discovered that you can buy it directly from Fromm   https://www.gofromm.com/fromm-family-classic-adult-dog-food

It's reasonable!    Just thought I would mention, in case anyone else has been advised by their vet to switch to a grain inclusive food, at least till the results of the investigation are in.    We have been mixing it 1/2 and 1/2 with the Zignature, but will soon be going completely over to Fromm Classic    :-)

Never had any problems with Zignature, may even go back to it after this grain free scare is over.

Edited by dog person

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dog person

http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2018/12/evidence-update-grain-free-and-other-beg-diets-associated-with-heart-disease-in-dogs/

(excerpt below)     comments and opinions welcomed

Bottom Line
We cannot say with certainty that BEG diets cause heart disease. We can only say that they have been associated with DCM in both golden retrievers with taurine deficiency and in other breeds without taurine deficiency. We can also say that changing diets appears to have benefitted some of these dogs, though many other treatments were employed at the same time, which limits out ability to know how important a factor this diet change was in the dogs’ recovery. 

We can also say that none of the claims for health risks from grains in pet foods, or for health benefits from grain-free or other BEG diets, are supported by any reasonable scientific evidence. Certainly, the evidence for such diets is weaker than even the very limited evidence against them. 

As pet owners and veterinarians, we need to proportion our confidence in any conclusions to the strength of the available evidence and be willing to change our minds as new evidence emerges. We also need to make our decisions now, even before we have perfect evidence. Right now, there is no solid reason to think grain-free diets have any health advantages, and there is weak evidence to suggest they might have health risks for some dogs. If you have a golden retriever, it seems reasonable to avoid the diets that have been associated with taurine deficiency and DCM in this breed. Even if you don’t have a golden, you should at least give some thought to why you might want to feed or avoid BEG diets. The evidence can’t make the decision for you, but it should certainly be considered

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dog person

I have found the above site very helpful.

Example:

  1. We would like a listing of dry kibble that is acceptable for our taurine deficient dog. Obviously the listing must be longer than just Royal Canine and Purina

     
  2. 1b88d117a4d9ad0857efc12c98005e4e?s=40&d=skeptvet says:

    There is no such list. If you have read my articles on the subject, you know that the relationship between diet, taurine, and DCM is complex and evolving, so there is no way to make a simple “good food/bad food” distinction. I would suggest looking at the resources on the subject available the Tufts University Veterinary Nutrition Service or arranging a personal consult with a veterinary nutrition specialist.

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dog person

https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/pdf/10.2460/javma.253.11.1390 

(excerpt below)

Pet food marketing has outpaced the science, and owners are not always making healthy, science-based decisions even though they want to do the best for their pets. The recent cases of possible diet-associated DCM are obviously concerning and warrant vigilance within the veterinary and research communities. Importantly, although there appears to be an association between DCM and feeding BEG, vegetarian, vegan, or home-prepared diets in dogs, a cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven, and other factors may be equally or more important. Assessing diet history in all patients can help to identify diet-related cardiac diseases as early as possible and can help identify the cause and, potentially, best treatment for diet-associated DCM in dogs. 

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sanford
4 hours ago, dog person said:

...an association between DCM and feeding BEG...

Trying to follow this important discussion. I understand CHD, DCM, but not BEG. I tried with no success to look it up online. Can you define BEG for me? Thanks!

*Never mind... I found it: Boutique, Exotic, Grain free.

Edited by sanford

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dog person

BEG diets- boutique, exotic protein, grain-free.

"…it also appeared that these dogs were frequently eating BEG diets containing foodstuffs such as kangaroo, duck, buffalo, salmon, lamb, bison, venison, lentils, peas, fava beans, tapioca, barley, or chickpeas as major ingredients…the apparent link between BEG diets and DCM may be due to the grain- free nature of these diets (ie, use of ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas, or potatoes to replace grains), other common ingredients in BEG diets (eg, exotic meats, flaxseed, fruits, or probiotics), possible nutritional imbalances, or inadvertent inclusion of toxic dietary components. Or, the apparent association may be spurious".

"This is an excellent summary of what we know and don’t know about this issue so far. The bottom line is that a suspicious number of cases of DCM have been appearing in dogs eating what have been called BEG diets- boutique, exotic protein, grain-free. What this means is that diets without grains, diets with a high proportion of legumes, and diets with animal proteins that have not been traditionally used in dog food, and which consequently have not been studied as thoroughly in terms of their nutrient content and other factors, have been associated with DCM in a variety of breeds. This is not proof that the diets, or any particular characteristic of them, is causing this disease. Such proof will require different kinds of research studies. However, this is a potential warning sign that deserves to be acknowledged and followed up with appropriate research".

(above are excerpts from SkeptVet links I have provided in previous posts, also from the comment sections following the articles.)

Edited by dog person

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Idaho Cairns

Over the years with this topic, which like the proverbial "bad penny", keeps showing up, we always get this final caveat, denouement, quasi-conclusion:
" This is not proof that the diets, or any particular characteristic of them, is causing this disease. Such proof will require different kinds of research studies. However, this is a potential warning sign that deserves to be acknowledged and followed up with appropriate research".

I wonder why we discuss the matter since the research obviously isn't done, or obviously isn't done right, or obviously does not apply, or.....?  I suppose it keeps bloggers blogging, naysayers nay saying, firebells in the night ringing, and worriers worrying. 

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dog person
Posted (edited)

"Boiled eggs and chicken are also rich in taurine." 

This works as a topper and broth to add to  kibble.    One half boiled egg (shell removed) is also a good topper.  Just a heaping tablespoon and a splash of broth.    We never serve raw food due to the risk involved.    

I boil a small chicken once a month in a huge pot, nothing added, then let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
Let it cool for at least couple of hours (or remove the chicken and let chill in the fridg)
When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken and debone, be very careful and throw out small pieces and such as tiny bones could be in there. When in doubt, throw out.
Put the pot of broth (cover top with saran wrap) in the fridg on cold temp for 24 hours, the fat will rise to the top so that you can easily remove it.
Separate the broth in individual containers or freezer baggies (3 or 4 day supply each) store in freezer.
Do the same for the chicken meat.
Its a bit of work and messy, but cost effective, and you know for sure that there are no added ingredients.
The store bought broth has preservatives and salt. The more expensive brand in the organic section might be a little better.

Edited by dog person

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