Pet Food Brands Possibly Linked To Canine Heart Disease, FDA Says

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

More than 500 reports of heart disease in dogs and cats linked to some pet foods have been confirmed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The FDA said the type of food associated with it is often labeled as "grain-free", which contained a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as main ingredients (listed within the first 10 ingredients in the ingredient list, before vitamins and minerals).

The breeds most frequently reported are Golden Retrievers, mixed breeds, Labrador Retriever and Great Danes. The company addressed the investigation in 2018, saying "scientists have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of DCM". "That's why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods", said Dr. Steven M. Solomon, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. They then followed up on their investigation in February 2019. Natural Balance was connected to 15 of the reports that the FDA reviewed and Rachael Ray Nutrish had 10 reports, according to the FDA. The agency points to the fact that there is not a determination of the link between food brands and the spike in canine DCM.

"Rather, FDA is simply attempting to gain more information as part of its evaluation process", Midwestern Pet Foods said in their statement.

"We take the nutrition and health of pets very seriously".

The FDA asked pet owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of dogs and cats with DCM that are suspected to be linked to diet.

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The FDA initially alerted the public to the cases plaguing dogs last July but did not specify food brands.

The FDA did not recommend switching from grain-free foods but advised pet owners to consult their vet for diet advice specific to their animal.

"Our hearts go out to every pet and Pet Lover who have been impacted by DCM. We feel this will only serve to further confuse pet lovers", the company stated. "Our own research, and the millions of pets who have thrived by eating our food over 25 years, have shown that Champion pet foods are safe", Champion Petfoods said in their statement. In the report, researchers said there wasn't a genetic connection.

Thursday's announcement named 16 pet food brands most frequently identified in 560 cases of individual dogs reported to have the disease between January 1 2014 and April 30, 2018, with 119 of them dying. Dogs with DCM tire easily, cough, and have difficulty breathing.

The FDA released all of the reports they received about animals that had contracted DCM, dozens of which state that their pets died. Of those reports, 222 of them came between December 1, 2018, and the end of April, the agency said.

Officials say while DCM is not considered rare in dogs, the reports were unusual because numerous reported cases occured in breeds of dogs not typically prone to the disease.

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