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Concerns about grain-free pet food causing heart problems

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlighted concerns in 2018 about a possible link between “grain-free” pet foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. DCM, a heart condition that causes an enlarged and weakened heart, has been frequently reported in breeds such as golden retrievers and Great Danes.

Between August 1, 2020 and November 1, 2022, the FDA reported 255 new cases out of a total of 1,382 cases. In 2019, the FDA listed 16 dog food brands linked to this heart disease, but did not advise against their consumption. These foods often contain peas, lentils and potatoes.

Research indicates that peas could be the potential culprit. A study conducted by the University of Saskatchewan revealed that beagles showed “DCM-like changes” after 28 days on a pea-rich diet. However, the exact cause remains unidentified. Dr. Lynn Weber of the University of Saskatchewan speculates that pea fiber could be a factor, but stresses the need for more research.

According to Dr. Aly Cohen of the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, returning dogs to traditional diets has been reported to improve heart health. Despite the FDA’s ongoing investigation, experts believe the prevalence of DCM could be higher than the reported numbers suggest.

Symptoms to watch for include reduced activity, lethargy, cough, shortness of breath and decreased appetite. For pet owners, knowing that their choice of pet food may have inadvertently harmed their beloved pet is devastating.

Veterinarians recommend being careful with pet foods that contain peas, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, or sweet potatoes among their main ingredients. They also advise regular checks of heart health and consider blood tests to detect early damage to the heart muscle.

This article is sourced from and written by AI.

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