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Delmar Animal Hospital

910 Delaware Ave.

Delmar, NY 12054

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Grain Free Diets and Heart Disease in Dogs


The cardiac specialists at Upstate Veterinary Specialists have shared the newest information on heart disease in dogs being fed grain free diets. Grain free diets have been the newest fad from boutique or upscale manufacturers for prevention of skin allergies and digestive problems in dogs.

More recently feeding of these diets has been linked to a type of heart disease called DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) in many types of dogs that do not classically get DCM. Risk factors are general taurine deficiency (found by blood testing), being a Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel or small dog under 20 pounds. Grain free diets are diets that include legumes, lentils, peas and potatoes as one of the first 5 listed ingredients.

Current recommendations for apparently healthy dogs is a switch off of grain free diets. Cardiologists are recommending changing to a diet with standard ingredients from a well established manufacturer that does not contain peas (or pea products), legumes (lentils, chick peas) or potatoes as one of the top 5 ingredients. 

The following article from Veterinary Partner explains diet-associated cardiomyopathy is likely caused by grain-free diets, not taurine deficiency:
Diets and Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

The WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee tool provides owners with recommendations on how to use more important information from the label to select the best food for pets.
Selecting the Best Food for your Pet

Please contact us if you have any questions or worries. Heart disease in dogs can present as lack of appetite, lower energy, coughing, fainting, collapse, weight loss, less energy or stamina for exercise.  It is often vague and temporary initially with increasing symptoms over time.