Certain dog food brands may be linked to increased risk of heart disease: FDA

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16 dog food brands linked to risk of heart failure in canines: FDA
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has named 16 dog food brands that it says may be linked to an increased risk of canine heart disease.

The foods, according to a release by the government agency, are often marketed as “grain-free.”

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

The announcement comes following an investigation that was announced in July 2018, after several cases of a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) were linked back to the food.

In 2018, the FDA had said early reports indicate that dogs who constantly eat food containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients in their primary source of nutrition are at higher risk.

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It added the food is often marketed with a label that specifically reads “grain-free.” But the agency did not name specific brands last year.

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In the recent release, it named the following dog food brands: Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature’s Variety, NutriSource, Nutro, Rachael Ray Nutrish.

The reports were largely associated with dry food, the FDA explained.

While rates of heart disease are known to be higher in certain larger dogs, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, and the Irish Wolfhound, research found that other breeds can also be affected.

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The reports of heart-related illnesses included a wide range of breeds, including commonly owned ones such as French bulldogs, pugs, retrievers, shepherds and others.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that pet owners should ditch the brands all together, the FDA said.

“FDA urges pet owners to work with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to obtain the most appropriate dietary advice for their pet’s specific needs prior to making diet changes,” the release explained.

Following the 2018 FDA statement, Patricia Alderson of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association echoed the same sentiment in an interview with Global News.

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

Various brands named in the FDA investigation have issued statements; Global News has sought comment from others.

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Here are the responses offered by some of the brands:


Zignature’s statement said that the FDA “continues to believe that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors and that the actual cause has still yet to be determined.”

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“Among all the cases from all brands that were reported to the FDA, the overwhelming majority of impacted dogs belonged to breeds genetically predisposed to DCM, a disease that was first discovered in the 1980s well before the grain-free diets were available for pets.”

Zignature has created a customer care line in an effort to “fully understand these cardiac issues.”

“This company was founded out of a passion and commitment to pet health and we care deeply about animals,” it said.

“We continue to invest in our own research to ensure we continue to make the safest and highest quality pet food on the market today.”

Champion Petfoods (parent company of Acana and Orijen)

Champions Petfoods said it carries out “exhaustive research internally and with independent labs” on DCM. That research has included two long-term feeding trials on beagles and labs, studies on fiber, starch and amino acid, as well as digestibility and bioavailability studies of amino acids on different dies.

The feeding trials did not show any “signs of DCM or precursors to DCM.”

“We are actively working internally and with other industry leaders to research and learn more about DCM,” the company said.

Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild said it is “concerned about the reported cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs that are not genetically predisposed to the condition.”

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It noted, however, that the FDA “still has not found any science-based causes to link grain-free diets – including Taste of the Wild – to DCM.

“As they note, it is a complex issue with numerous factors to consider, such as breeds that have a genetic predisposition for developing DCM.”

“We continue to monitor this issue closely and support ongoing research efforts.”

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Fromm Family Pet Food’s statement said the company is taking the matter “seriously” and that it will “continue to monitor all information as the FDA investigation progresses.”

“Fromm’s dedication to the health and nutrition of animals has been the bedrock of our brand since 1904,” the company said.

“We empathize with any pet parent and their beloved pet who may have experienced the hardship of coping with DCM health related issues. As always, we will remain vigilant in monitoring FDA communication and potential findings related to DCM and other possible health issues.”


Merrick said it is working with the FDA to learn more about the links between their food and DCM.

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“As of today, the nature of a possible connection between food and DCM in dogs has not been determined,” the company said.

“We love our pets and are dedicated to making the safest and highest-quality food for them,” Merrick said.

“All our protein-rich diets, including those that are grain-free, are formulated to be complete and balanced and meet or exceed the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

“We fully support the FDA’s efforts to research any potential links between diet and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and are committed to working with the FDA and veterinarians to better understand this complex topic.”

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Nature’s Variety

Nature’s Variety said the company takes this issue “very seriously” and that it wants to do what it can “to help determine if there is a link between diet and DCM, and how we can be part of providing a solution that helps all of our pets have long, happy and healthy lives.”

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Nature’s Variety stressed that the company has fed “hundreds of thousands of pets with safe, healthy and high quality recipes,” and that they are pet food experts “committed to quality and safety.”

The company added that all of its recipes go through “vigorous formulation, manufacturing and testing processes to help ensure their safety, efficacy and compliance with all AAFCO nutrient requirements.”

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Tuffy’s Pet Foods, which produces NutriSource products, said the FDA put the company, and others, in a “confusing situation about grain-free dog diets and their potential link to canine dilated cariomyopathy (DCM).”

Tuffy’s stressed that it takes all potential health issues “very seriously” and that the company takes “great care to make sure our pet foods comply with the guidelines and recommendations set forth by the FDA, AAFCO and other experts in pet nutrition.”

Pet diets, Tuffy’s said, are developed by a “dedicated team whose experience spans more than 654 years in the pet food industry.”

The company said it is furthering its own efforts to study DCM and “closely monitor all the information that the FDA can provide.”


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