We, at Amelia Grace Animal Hospital, have been getting a lot of questions from concerned pet parents regarding the issue of the FDA “Recalled Pet Foods”. While the information can seem scary, it is important to stay up to date on information as it emerges so you can stay informed. Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition in which the heart’s ability to pump blood is decreased due to an enlarged left ventricle. As you can imagine, this can lead to some severe cardiac issues, sometimes even fatalities.
Beginning in January 2014 until April 2019, the FDA received 525 reports of DCM cases (515 canines, 9 felines). Some households had multiple pets suffering from the same diagnosis, so the actual patient count is higher. In July of 2018, the FDA first alerted the public to the potential risks of certain diets being linked to DCM. Then in February 2019, the FDA released another update further discussing the risks, describing the investigation, and providing updated case counts.
It was in the February 2019 update that detailed what they believed was causing the DCM. They said that “90 percent reported feeding a grain-free food. Approximately 10 percent reported feeding a food containing grains and some of these diets were vegan or vegetarian. A large proportion of the reported diets in DCM cases – both grain-free and grain-containing – contained peas and/or lentils in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as a main ingredient (listed within the first 10 ingredients, before vitamins and minerals). The products included commercially available kibble, canned and raw foods, as well as home-cooked diets.”
On June 27, 2019, the FDA released it’s third update to their ongoing investigation of hundreds of cases of DCM found in otherwise healthy dogs and cats. This update included the reports of adverse events associated with certain diets, an updated case count, and the new testing results. In addition to the items listed above, the FDA released a list of dog foods that have the highest incidence of adverse events in their study. It is important to understand that these foods have not been recalled, they are simply on a list of foods that dogs and cats who were otherwise healthy developed DCM.
So what does this mean for you and your pet?
Well, the first thing to note is the FDA is still actively researching and studying these cases. And even though it is an ongoing investigation, they still felt it wise to release a list of foods that had the most incidences of adverse reactions.
Our official stance on this matter is, and always has been, that it is best to feed your precious fur baby a diet that is complete and balanced. Any time you remove food groups from a complete diet, you risk nutritional imbalances. Often commercial dog foods will follow human trends in diet and nutrition (ie: Keto, low-carb, coconut oil, etc.). Sticking with diets that try to stay true to complete nutrition, and at the same time follow the testing requirements of the AAFCO are always a safe bet. If you have been feeding your pet one of the foods on the list, there is no need to worry. We would suggest an alternate food that would better meet your pets needs safely. If you are worried over the risk of DCM with your pet, please schedule an appointment to have a doctor assess their cardiac health. If you would like a specific recommendation for your pet, we would love to help you find that, and we ask that you give us a call. Our team would love to work with you to find your pet’s best food for the best life!