Is There A Link Between Grain Free & DCM?

BY Claudia Loomis

Attention valued customers!

We have spoken with many customers, pet food companies, and nutrition experts over the recent weeks since the national news that the FDA is investigating a possible link between the feeding of grain free foods and Dilated CardioMyopathy (DCM) heart disease in dogs.

To help ease some of your concerns here is some more detailed information on this issue.

What is Dilated CardioMyopathy (DCM)?
DCM is a heart disease that has been genetically associated with certain large breed dogs. DCM is linked to a deficiency in the essential amino acid Taurine.

Why are Grain Free foods being linked to DCM?
Grain free diets often contain legumes like soy, potatoes, lentils, as well as certain beans and peas. Legumes are a nutrient dense source of carbohydrates and fiber and are a substitute for low quality grains and grain fragments. However, legumes also contain phytoestrogens.

Phytoestrogens can block the uptake and synthesis of Taurine, which is why it is being considered as the link to DCM.

What is Taurine and why does my dog need it?
Taurine plays a vital role in the maintenance of cardiac muscle as well as eye and skin health. Taurine is considered to be an essential amino acid. Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized naturally by humans or by our pets. Therefore, we must get all essential amino acids from what foods we eat.

Are all legumes bad?
Not all legumes contain the same amounts of essential amino acid blocking phytoestrogen. Soy is among the legumes with the highest levels of phytoestrogens. Potatoes, lentils, and peas contain fewer phytoestrogens by almost 10-fold.

How do I know if I’m feeding a Grain Free food that is high in legumes?
The first ingredient in a food should ALWAYS be a named animal protein, like Chicken or Chicken Meal, Beef, Lamb, Salmon, or Pork. Taurine is best metabolized when it comes from the amino acid profile of animal protein. Foods where a named animal protein is NOT the first ingredient are suspect. Foods that list soy high on the ingredients list should also be avoided.

My breed is susceptible to DCM. What should I feed?
You should avoid any food that contains soy or uses legumes as a first ingredient. You may want to consider feeding a raw diet or a kibble with a high meat inclusion.

Let Us Help!
Our knowledgeable team at CB Pet Market can answer any questions you have regarding pet food and is happy to help you make the best, nutritionally sound choices for your pet.

We are continuing to monitor and research this important topic and will provide updates as more details emerge from the FDA and our pet food partners.