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Dcm & Grain Free Food Connection? What Do You Feed Your Pups?

DCM; Grain Free connection?; Healthy Feed

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#1 TrueNorth

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 11:01 AM

Hi guys,

Spoke to my vet and he is keeping an eye on this recent increase circulating in dog world. 

Guessing it has not hit our AI world. 

I feed Khya a grain free kibble by Simply Nourish (closest I could get here to what Greg/Kim feed the dogs down there).  But it would fall into the peas, potatoes, flaxseed, tomato pumace, chicory root, canola oil, blueberries, carrots, spinach...etc.

Let me know what other parents are feeding!

Thanks!

Jo

 

Concerns About Grain-Free Dog Food

The FDA is looking into a possible link between DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) in dogs and the ingredients in certain boutique pet foods. In a recent article of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Lisa Freeman, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, explained the issue is not just grain-free diets, but rather, “BEG” diets (boutique companies, exotic ingredients, or grain-free diets).

“The apparent link between BEG diets and DCM may be due to ingredients used to replace grains in grain-free diets, such as lentils or chickpeas, but also may be due to other common ingredients commonly found in BEG diets, such as exotic meats, vegetables, and fruits,” Freeman wrote.

More research needs to be done, and for now, it’s best to check with your vet about any concerns. Dr. Freeman also recommends purchasing food from companies that employ veterinary nutritionists and other experts.



#2 Sherab

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 05:19 AM

Good questions and thanks for posting. I read the attached article or rather skimmed it. Summary:

1) Taurine deficiency is serious and correlated with heart problems
2) Some breeds have a predisposition towards same
3) They don't know why but we seem to be seeing an uptick in cases and we don't know what is causing it - they don't have hard numbers to prove that they are seeing more cases, (it's been a hypothesis since the 90's & '00s that hasn't gone any where). They have no population stats to show diet as a cause, but because they think this is really happening they will hypothesize based on a tiny sample of cases and a tinier sample of 25 labs. My commentary: Is this really a problem? Is it even a big problem? Maybe - this is the gut feel of doctors on the front line, but it is not a big enough trend to have been measured and quantified and the root cause is far from verified. IF it's an increasing problem, maybe diet is the root.
4) Seems reasonable to postulate a taurine deficiency could be dietary. The shot gun approach of changing diet and adding taurine supplement to the diet of 25 Labs with taurine deficiency worked for 24 of the dogs.
5) Maybe they need to be more ware of Taurine levels in the general population of dogs and do some quantitative analysis.

For us - maybe a baseline Taurine blood test isn't a bad idea. Maybe a mid life and elder test too. Maybe. Also being aware of natural & feeding sources of taurine. Take care with fish. I understand there are some dangerous parasites in some raw fish.

Feed variety. Don't just feed the same old same old every meal. Mix it up. Now that SoJos doesn't make bulk oats we have changed our methods. We feed 3 different kibbles. Some have legumes. We do rice as a base with raw chicken or with lamb sometimes. We make bone broth. We feed raw organs, gizzards, drum sticks, yogurt, kelp, etc. I am not aware of any cases on the forum of DCM.

Personally I'm more concerned with stuff that could get into the food accidentally or accidentally feeding anything from China.

Edited by Sherab, 22 May 2019 - 05:19 AM.


#3 TrueNorth

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 07:05 AM

I am going to 'mix it up" and use 3 different ones, per Sherab.  Thank you for the information.

Jo and Khya

 

 

Found this article - more food for thought.

by Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN

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You may have read my June 4 post, “A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients.”  This post had more than 180,000 page views in the first week and continues to get more than 2000 page views a day.   So, I’m pleased that people are interested in this important issue and trying to learn about it.  But I’ve also found a tremendous amount of confusion and misinformation in the past 5 months including people who doubt that this is a real issue, some who still haven’t heard about it, and people who mistakenly think it’s just grain-free diets or that it’s only related to taurine.

As a result of the continued confusion, some of my cardiologist colleagues and I wrote an article which was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  This article provides a summary of our current understanding of diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), how to recognize it, and a recommended protocol for veterinarians to follow when they see dogs with DCM.

To be sure this information reaches as wide an audience as possible and to clear up confusion, I thought I’d provide some updates to address the most common misconceptions I’m hearing:

  1. It’s not just grain-free. This does not appear to be just an issue with grain-free diets.  I am calling the suspected diets, “BEG” diets – boutique companies, exotic ingredients, or grain-free diets.  The apparent link between BEG diets and DCM may be due to ingredients used to replace grains in grain-free diets, such as lentils or chickpeas, but also may be due to other common ingredients commonly found in BEG diets, such as exotic meats, vegetables, and fruits.  In addition, not all pet food manufacturers have the same level of nutritional expertise and quality control, and this variability could introduce potential issues with some products.
  2. Most dogs being diagnosed with DCM do not have low taurine levels. Some owners continue to feed a BEG diet but supplement taurine thinking that this will reduce their risk for heart disease.  In our hospital, we currently measure taurine in all dogs with DCM, but more than 90% of our patients with DCM in which taurine has been measured have normal levels (and the majority are eating BEG diets).  Yet some of these dogs with DCM and normal taurine levels improve when their diets are changed.  This suggests that there’s something else playing a role in most cases – either a deficiency of a different nutrient or even a toxicity that may be associated with BEG diets.  Giving taurine is unlikely to prevent DCM unless your dog has taurine deficiency.  And given the lack of quality control for dietary supplements, you can introduce new risks to your dog if you give a supplement without evidence that she needs it.
  3. Raw diets and homemade diets are not safe alternatives. Out of concern, some owners are switching from BEG diets to a raw or home-cooked diet.  However, we have diagnosed DCM in dogs eating these diets too.  And raw and home-cooked diets increase your dog’s risk for many other health problems.  So, forego the raw or home-cooked diets and stick with a commercial pet food made by a well-established manufacturer that contains common ingredients, including grains.  If your dog requires a home-prepared diet for a medical condition or you feel strongly about feeding one, I strongly recommend you consult with a Board-Certified Veterinary NutritionistTM (acvn.org).  However, because home-cooked diets are not tested for safety and nutritional adequacy like good quality commercial diets, deficiencies could still develop.

Current thoughts on DCM

Currently, it appears that there may be three separate groups of dogs with DCM (although this may change as we learn more). I am listing them in the approximate frequency that we are currently seeing them in our hospital:

  1. Diet-associated DCM with normal taurine levels. While this form of the disease was first identified in dogs of breeds not predisposed to DCM that are eating BEG diets, it appears to also occur in dogs of typical DCM breeds that are eating a BEG diet.
  2. Primary DCM in predisposed breeds that is unrelated to diet. This is the traditional, genetically-related DCM in typical breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, Irish Wolfhound, and Great Dane.
  3. Diet-associated DCM with taurine deficiency: This is the least common form we are seeing in our hospital. This appears to happen both in breeds predisposed to DCM and breeds that are not predisposed to DCM.

Common questions

We still have a great deal to learn about diet-associated DCM.  However, I’m providing answers to some common questions I’ve been getting based on what is currently known:

  1. What’s causing diet-associated DCM in dogs? For the vast majority of dogs, we do not yet know what is causing this disease. There are definitely some dogs with DCM that have low taurine levels, many of which will improve with taurine supplementation and change of diet.  For dogs that have normal taurine levels, however, other nutritional deficiencies may be present. Some nutritional deficiencies can affect the heart’s normal function, so an insufficient amount of these nutrients (or reduced bioavailability) in the diet could cause heart disease.  Diet-associated DCM could also be due to an ingredient in the food that is toxic to the heart.  The FDA and many researchers are actively studying this issue so that it can be solved as quickly as possible.
  2. My dog was diagnosed with DCM. What should I do? Ask your veterinarian to measure taurine levels and give heart medications as directed by your veterinarian. If your dog is eating a BEG diet or other unconventional diet (including vegetarian, vegan, or home-prepared diets), I recommend following the steps outlined in my previous post, including switching to a non-BEG diet.  Three updates to my previous post are:
    • Taurine supplements: Consumer Lab is expected to release a report on independent quality control testing of taurine supplements in late 2018. Given the lack of quality control for dietary supplements (human and pet), having these results will be very useful to find good quality products for dogs that require taurine supplementation. Your veterinarian or veterinary cardiologist can help you determine an optimal dose for your dog.
    • Other dogs in the household: We are now recommending that other dogs in the household of dogs with DCM that are eating the same BEG diet be screened by their veterinarian since their hearts could also be affected (even if they are showing no symptoms).
    • Outcome: Not all dogs with DCM will improve and improvements in the echocardiogram, when they do occur, can take a long time (often more than 6 months).
  3. If my dog is eating a BEG diet but has no symptoms, should I test for DCM or switch to a different diet? It’s unlikely that most dogs eating a BEG diet will develop DCM. However, given the fact that we don’t yet understand why BEG diets are affecting some dogs and because DCM is a life-threatening disease, I recommend you reconsider your dog’s diet until we know more.  Contrary to popular belief, there are no health benefits of grain-free or exotic ingredient diets except in the rare case of food allergy. If your dog is a part of your family and you want to feed him the very best, be sure to base this important decision on more objective factors than marketing and the ingredient list (see our post).



#4 LakeGirl

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 02:29 PM

Kaposia is a picky eater, and in the four years of her life we have gone from Supreme Source, to Nutro, and now in process of switching to Taste of the Wild. We also do bone broth, unseasoned baked chicken, and unseasoned scrambled eggs on occasion. She's healthy, bright eyed, lively, and has always had vet check ups that are just fine. As humans we are having more and more concerns about sourcing our own diets, and I think tend to transfer that concern to our dogs. Concern, yes, but the boutique/designer diets for dogs just seem fraught with items that a canid would not normally eat, especially in those proportions. We love them so, and do the best we can for our dogs. I also absolutely will not feed anything, food or treats from China. That said, our Granddog Sierra ate a steady diet of Ol' Roy for 12 years (our son was gifted Sierra, a lab mix, by his then girlfriend while they were college students and he was on a shoestring budget.) At age 12 she began having some health issues and the vet suggested a change to a more expensive food based on venison, which did wonders for the old girl. She improved greatly and lived to almost 15 before crossing over the Rainbow Bridge. I wonder what a study of DCM incidence in mutts vs over bred/inbred pure breds would show? Nutrition is very important, but repeated gene variants would factor in too, I'd think.
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#5 LakeGirl

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 03:45 PM

We also occasionally give her a raw carrot, a slice of raw apple, or a few cubes of carefully unseeded watermelon. But she is PICKY...those items have to be very fresh, crisp and chilled, or she turns her nose up at them. Also, it truly amazes me that anyone would try to feed a dog a totally vegan diet. Talk about attempting to "humanize" a dog. I'm no expert, but that just flies in the face of nature.

Edited by LakeGirl, 22 May 2019 - 03:49 PM.

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#6 Kadar

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 06:10 AM

Sophie eats Taste of the Wild and loves it. We don't worry about the amount she eats very much. She eats what she wants and leaves the rest. There are just too many more exciting things to do!! She also gets unseasoned morsels of meat occasionally. She does not care for veges for the most part. She just plays with them then leaves them on the floor. She has no health problems so far but she is only 1 1/2 years old.

#7 LakeGirl

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 04:48 PM

I'm supposing many of us have seen and heard the latest updates on DCM from the FDA on the news feeds today, including their list of 16 problematic dog foods. The list included Nutro, Blue Buffalo, and Taste of the Wild. As usual the research and documentation seem fuzzy at best. We have a vet check up appointment on 7/1/20. I have a lot of questions.
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#8 miz molly

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Posted 29 June 2019 - 04:22 AM

I haven't read this. Is there a link you can post? Thank you in advance.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ~John Muir

#9 LakeGirl

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Posted 29 June 2019 - 05:58 AM

Sorry, I am really not good with posting links, etc. I only have a very old iPad which doesn't display complete url's in the history section. The best article from yesterday, June 28,2019, was on CBS Business Watch, "FDA Warns 16 Dog Foods May cause Heart Disease in your Pet," and was the only article I found that named all 16 brands.
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#10 miz molly

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Posted 29 June 2019 - 08:43 AM

I pasted this onto the search bar...."June 28,2019, was on CBS Business Watch, "FDA Warns 16 Dog Foods May cause Heart Disease in your Pet," ...and it worked. Thank you.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ~John Muir

#11 LakeGirl

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Posted 01 July 2019 - 07:27 AM

Just returned from the vet visit. She concurs that what the FDA is finding warrants caution. She has a dog and feeds Royal Canin. She also said Purina Pro Plan is a good one. For what it's worth, that's the news from Kaposia land. Glad to hear that another Gathering was a happy success!
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#12 LakeGirl

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Posted 01 July 2019 - 10:51 AM

Well, just went on Chewy.com, read ingredient lists and reviews, and ordered some Purina Pro Plan adult chicken and rice formula dry. We'll see how it goes. Many of the reviews cited concern about DCM and recommendations from vets to change away from the grain free, and at least one where the reviewer said the change came too late for their dog, who was very ill with DCM and had always been on a grain free diet. One other thing our vet mentioned was that there is a lot more research behind some of the older tried and true brands than the new "designer" ones. We'll see how it goes. Vet said the home made bone broth, and portions of chicken, fish and egg that I prepare unseasoned for Kaposia several times a week are fine.

Edited by LakeGirl, 01 July 2019 - 10:52 AM.

"A life ain't much of a life without a dog in it, s'what I always said."
Dan Gemeinhart, The Honest Truth

#13 LakeGirl

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 11:37 AM

Picky is as picky does! She loved the Purina Pro Plan Savor, Shreded Chicken and Rice Formula....for about 6 days. Mmmmmm! Something new! Now she picks out the Shreded chicken and leaves the kibble....smarty pants! I'm going to try Sherab's suggestion of mixing it up between three different flavors. She's a healthy 38 pounds, but lean as a whip solid muscle. Everybody comments on how great it is she's not over weight. Not starving by any means, but P-I-C-K-Y.
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#14 NorCal

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 03:07 PM

We are feeding a food called Dr Tims we got it on Chewys and switched from Acana because of the report. It has good reviews and I swear Zunis coat is shinier since we changed. So far so good but Zuni in truth is a Chowhound.

#15 woodrat

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 04:03 PM

I have heard good things about Farmina and Victor. My boys eat raw normally but I just bought a bag of Victor to feed while traveling so we'll see how they do on it.



#16 Sherab

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 04:07 PM

Variety in the diet is really what's important. Right now our 3 are chowing down on some raw beef heart.

If you, like me, find this non advice from the authorities frustrating in its lack of scientific rigor and lack of scientific specificity, just look at it this way: the must useful thing they say in all the "advice" is the word deficiency. It's about the only useful word in all the advice they give At The Present Moment (since they still have no idea if they are seeing a measurable trend, much less causality, breed specificity, etc). It's hard to be deficient if you are getting a lot of variety. I can not imagine eating the same meal my whole life. Can you? I will continue to feed rice and lamb home made, use grain free commercial and grain full ( if they will eat it), make hamburger meatloaf with oats, feed bone broth, yogurt, raw chicken, organs and kelp sushi sheets and many other things, including buffalo. I watched my dogs health improve radically when we went from feeding the same kibble every day to Raw ish in the 90's. There'd have to be a lot more compelling data for me to abandon grain free as a sometimes option. We feed Acana because they like boar, chicken and lamb flavors. I'm kind of excited that Dr Tims is available at MareZdoats in Marquette and will see about adding that to rotation.

At the end of the day if it turns out grain free is being accused broadly and vaguely w/o measurable, significant and reasonably specific cause and as a result GF ceases to be an option (makers go out) and no smoking gun is found, that would be a shame.

I won't feed Alligator- passion fruit-kangaroo-Kiwi or vegan. I mean c'mon, that's shooting fish in a barrel.

Does anyone know what Kim feeds? He gets some 18 year old dogs.

Edited by Sherab, 14 July 2019 - 04:08 PM.


#17 NorCal

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 04:42 PM

I should add that I mix in about 1/3 raw meat of different kinds organ meat and veggies with the kibble -trying to mix it up too.

#18 Denise E.

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 09:46 AM

I'm late to this party .... as usual.

 

I fed Taste of the Wild to both pups and they thrived on it!

Then after Tayamni turned 2 yrs she developed food allergies.

 

Off Gluten, off grains, off Taste of the Wild - guess what?  She's allergic to or it worsens her allergies - Peas! 

(& some beef, and definately pork,  and  ...)  I searched and searched and found Sport Dog Food.  Then when they reformulated I started additional feeding Instinct Ultimate Protein - chicken & Ultimate Protein Duck.

Still feed Sport Dog Food  too, now Sporting Dog Grain-Free.

 

I really want to stay with US/Canada, Europe or New Zealand sourced ingredients.

 

Nature's Variety stopped selling 'Ultimate Protein' so I am searching again for alternate dry foods.

 

We crock pot organic chickens, then pull the meat and use the broth along with either organic/non-gmo sweet potatoes, brown rice, or veggies and freeze ziploc bags for use as the "wet" food in with kibble. 

 

 

What I am wondering about the peas, pea protein and lentils in the dry foods is maybe it blocks the taurine absorption?

Peas by products get used more and more as protein in dry foods?

I'm not as concerned about sweet potatoes / potatoes (in moderation) because they have been in dog foods most of my life and this is a newer development it seems to me.

Watching for more study results and professional advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#19 Chinatola

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 11:29 AM

Ours have been fed a small variety of Orijen kibbles, such as original, six fish, regional red & tundra since pretty much day one (well, I did the raw hamburger thing with Squint (Lilikoi for the uninitiated) for a short time early on in our relationship but our older dog, Ida, at the time had a problem as we weren't very aware of dog nutrition in those days and the switch to raw jacked her all up.  Thank you boards for straightening out my lack of understanding and knowledge on this side of the question!)

 

We supplement this with a fair variety of stella & chewy's freeze dried dinner patties as a topper (typically the duck/goose & chicken & venison (when available) & rabbit (which is sometimes unavailable too)) but typically Kekona eats only the topper for a day or two then devours that and the kibble on day two or three. Lili eats everything typically every time but occasionally she'll skip the kibble. They're cyclical.   In addition to this we give them the occasional raw chicken leg and some hamburger & ground turkey from time to time along with the kibble but both of these ground items are browned (not fully but mostly cooked) because it's grocery store bought and I don't trust the processing side of the question.  Since most humans I know don't subsist on raw meat (well, okay there's a few but they're still behind bars as far as I know) the processing side of the question isn't an issue since most peoples typically cook the food to deal with pathogens. Not so much if you intend to feed raw.  I suppose the same can be said for chicken legs and such but since they're whole I'd guess that perhaps they're a little less susceptible to the kinds of problems that can occur in the grinding process related to cleanliness.  Perhaps not but I have my beliefs...one of which is I believe that I'll have another beer please.

 

They love the mix-it-up approach and thus far their annual check ups have been stellar although 'Cracker Barrel ' as my daughter has taken to calling Lili lately because of her torpedo-sausage-like shape, recently came back with a slightly elevated liver enzyme that the vet thought might be a sign of trouble but also perhaps just an erroneous reading.  We'd planned to have their Toofus's cleaned and the pre-test showed this enzyme thing so we're about to do another round of tests to ensure there's no issue there.  Vet said that it's most likely nothing as it was just barely over the line and she's just being cautious.  So...there's that....

 

As Sherab said it seems there's a key distinction happening here; deficiency.  I may consider a taurine supplement but truthfully I'm not buying into the "there's a problem and it's a crisis" feeling of this line of reasoning...certainly agree to err on the side of caution but this smells a bit like a manufactured crisis to me so...there's that too...

 

That's my 2 and a half cents and I'm sticking to it....


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#20 Sherab

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 07:39 AM

Denise we recently found Highlander has an oat based (no peas) food. We use to use oats in our home made until SoJos stopped making the bulk base so this was a natural good add for us. https://www.frommfam...n-barley-recipe Note that they add Taurine.




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