16 Dog Food Brands Linked to Strange Rise in Canine Heart Disease

Federal health officials are currently investigating more than a dozen dog food brands that could be linked to a mysterious trend in canine heart disease. This of course, has also led to an increase in warnings from veterinarians about implementing the popular “grain-free” diets for canine pets. 

According to a report from the United States Food and Drug Administration, which was released on Thursday of last week, a puzzling review of more than 500 cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) shows that in almost every case these dogs had been regularly eating a mostly grain-free dog food product.  

And most of these products involved dry dog food formulations but in some cases the dog food was raw and semi-moist or wet. Also, most of the products were grain-free with peas or lentils as a major ingredient; and nearly half of these dog food products contained potatoes and/or sweet potatoes.

Also, the report lists that most of these products came from these brands:

  • 4Health
  • Acana
  • Blue Buffalo
  • California Natural
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Fromm
  • Merrick
  • Natural
  • Natural Balance
  • Nature’s Variety
  • NutriSource
  • Natro
  • Orien
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Zignature

The report also lists that golden retrievers were the most common dog breed affected by this strange trend.  Of course, the FDA cautions that reporting may have been breed-biased because they were common to things like breed-specific social media groups and other similar activities.  As such, experts are trying to create more awareness so that other pet owners will report their cases to get a better idea of the full scope of the trend. 

In the statement, the FDA said, “Another puzzling aspect of the recent spike in DCM cases is that they have occurred just in the last few years. The FDA is working with the pet food industry to better understand whether changes in ingredients, ingredient sourcing, processing or formulation may have contributed to the development of DCM.”

What is most intriguing, perhaps, is that the FDA has not been able to find any science-based association between DCM and grain-free diets.  Accordingly, the agency says this is a “complex issue with numerous factors to consider.”  Obviously, the FDA will continue to monitor this issue and conduct more research to determine a cause.

It should be noted that the FDA is not advising that consumers discontinue use of these particular brands—any specific type of dog food product, for that matter—but veterinarians continue to warn that a “grain-free” diet is unnecessary in domestic pets.