There is a very dangerous new dietary concern in dogs that I feel is so important that I’m sharing it here. I am neither a vet nor a veterinary nutritionist, but the mounting avalanche of scientific evidence is undeniable. If you have any questions about this information, please ask your vet for recommendations.

The issue at hand: Nutritional Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy, or DCM. A compelling and ever-growing body of evidence suggests that dogs of any age or breed who are fed a diet that is largely or wholly grain-free, especially if they include potatoes or “pulse” grains such as lentils, are at risk of suffering an enlarged, weakened heart that leads to congestive heart failure and even death. It’s gotten serious enough that the FDA is asking owners of dogs they suspect have been affected to report these cases so they can add them to their ongoing studies and tracking.

In the last 25 years I’ve gone full-circle, from feeding foods made by the “Big 4” (Purina, Royal Canin, Science Diet, and Iams) to cooking home-prepared diets for my dogs, to feeding raw food only, back to a “boutique” diet that was usually Fromm and Primal. After discussing all this—as well as DCM—recently with my own vet, I’ve switched all my dogs over entirely to Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin, at least until we know more. I’m just not willing to risk my dogs’ health. Ironically many made the switch to the so-called “boutique foods,” including me, due to wanting to do the best for their dogs (as well as out of fear) after multiple safety recalls. I do feel given the current info that in feeding Pro Plan and RC right now the benefits far outweigh any risks.

There is a very good and informative Facebook page devoted to dietary DCM. More to the point, its moderators include working veterinarians and they are keeping the info solidly factual. Find the group here. Start by reading the “units” posted there—they’re the best introduction to the problem. There is loads of info on various foods, both the brands implicated and those currently deemed safe.

-An excellent overview from a veterinary nutritionist

-The followup article: It’s Not Just Grain-Free Diets

-The FDA investigation

Conclusion: If you are not currently feeding your dog a food manufactured by one of the “Big 4” companies—Purina, Royal Canin, Science Diet, or Iams—talk to your veterinarian, read the info I’ve posted on the links, and decide what is best for your dog!

A very young Seaborne enjoying his first solid food

A very young Seaborne enjoying his first solid food