FDA warns of danger for dogs on certain diet

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning for pet owners about the potential danger of feeding your dog a grain-free diet.

Without naming specific brands, the FDA issued a warning last week about foods that contain potatoes, peas, or lentils (or other legumes) as the main ingredients. The agency said those ingredients could lead to heart problems for your dog.

Dogs that were fed “grain-free” food were at risk of an enlarged heart. It’s a condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The condition is more common in certain large dog breeds like Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, and Doberman Pinschers. But the FDA found it has been turning up in breeds that were not typically susceptible. DCM can lead to congestive heart failure.

The FDA said foods with high levels of legumes or potatoes were more likely to be labeled as “grain-free.” But they cautioned it was not yet known how those ingredients are linked to cases of DCM.

Symptoms of heart disease in dogs can include:

  • decreased energy
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • episodes of collapse

The FDA said it is working with board certified veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to “better understand the clinical presentation of these dogs.” The agency said it is also working with pet food manufacturers.

Pet owners and veterinarians are urged to report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.