Grain-free dog food may be linked to heart disease, FDA warns

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The U.S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning pet owners that grain-free dog food may increase the likelihood of heart disease.

The federal agency is investigating the situation, after several cases of a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) were linked back to the food.

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The disease is more commonly reported in giant breed dogs, a release by the FDA explained. But recently, it has affected other dogs, such as golden and Labrador retrievers, and bulldogs.

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The more “atypical” cases of relatively smaller dogs with DCM were linked back to the food.

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“Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the impacted dogs consistently ate foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients in their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years,” the FDA explained earlier this month.

It added that grain-free pet foods often contain “peas, lentils, other legumes or potatoes as their main ingredients.” The food is often marketed with a label that specifically reads “grain-free.”

READ MORE: Feeding your dog these foods? Stop, or you’ll harm their health, FDA says

U.S.-based veterinarian Lisa Freeman recently explained in an article that DCM is a “serious disease of the heart” that causes the heart to enlarge and weakens heartbeats.

She explained that grain-free pet food seems to be growing as a fad diet for animals, but there is actually no evidence to prove that it’s better.

“…while grains have been accused on the internet of causing nearly every disease known to dogs, grains do not contribute to any health problems and are used in pet food as a nutritious source of protein, vitamins, and minerals,” she wrote on a blog run by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

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In an interview with Global News, Patricia Alderson of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association explained that all diet changes should be made after consultation.

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“There’s no one diet that’s right for every breed. People should really talk to veterinarians,” Alderson said.

She added that pet owners should proceed with caution when it comes to fad diets, such as giving pets raw food.

“Diet trends that are out there for people aren’t necessarily good for animals,” she said, adding that they can actually make animals sick in some cases.

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