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Your dog may be at risk for developing heart disease based on their food, FDA says

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6/28/2019 Kelly Tyko
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(Video by CBS Minnesota)

What’s in your dogs’ diets could be a factor in whether they develop heart disease, according to a new FDA report.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it is continuing to investigate a potential connection between certain diets and cases of dilated cardiomyopathy, known as DCM or canine heart disease, which can result in congestive heart failure. 

The agency first announced the investigation in July 2018. Thursday’s announcement named 16 pet food brands most frequently identified in the more than 500 reported cases.

“We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM,” Steven M. Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods.”

a close up of a dog © Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. The report says large and giant breed dogs are most typically affected, with cases being most prevalent in golden retrievers, mixed breeds and Labrador retrievers. However, there have been cases of smaller breeds, too, suggesting “a lack of a genetic connection,” the report notes.

In most of the cases, the dogs ate dry food formulations.

The investigation also looked into the ingredients or characteristics of the dogs’ diets. More than 90% of diets were “grain-free” and 93% had peas and/or lentils.

Identified brands

The report notes that the FDA doesn’t yet know how certain diets may be associated with the disease.

“However, the FDA is first and foremost a public health agency, and takes seriously its responsibility to protect human and animal health,” the agency said in the statement. “In the case of DCM, the agency has an obligation to be transparent with the pet-owning public regarding the frequency with which certain brands have been reported.”

Here are the brands and how many cases were reported to the FDA for each:

  • Acana: 67
  • Zignature: 64
  • Taste of the Wild: 53
  • 4Health: 32
  • Earthborn Holistic: 32
  • Blue Buffalo: 31
  • Nature’s Domain: 29
  • Fromm: 24
  • Merrick: 16
  • California Natural: 15
  • Natural Balance: 15
  • Orijen: 12
  • Nature’s Variety: 11
  • NutriSource: 10
  • Nutro: 10
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish: 10

What’s next

The FDA is encouraging veterinarians to report cases by using its electronic Safety Reporting Portal or by calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.

Pet owners are advised to contact their veterinarian as soon as possible if “a dog is showing possible signs of DCM or other heart conditions, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse,” the report said.

Learn more at www.fda.gov.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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