As a dog-lover, keeping your canine companion healthy and happy is your top priority. You're likely informed on the newest trends in nutrition and diet, including the ongoing investigation by the FDA on regular versus grain-free dog food in relation to instances of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (or DCM). Before you start meal prepping for your dog, have a look at the science and explanations behind these claims.
To understand where the debate originated from, we must dig into the science behind these claims. Canine dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the cardiac muscle, resulting in a decrease in the ability for the heart to pump blood through the cardiovascular system. This disease affects some breeds of dogs more than others, leaving the cause of the disease up for some speculation. Other environmental factors that can induce DCM include diet, genetics, and infections.
While DCM is not considered a rare disease, some reports sent to the FDA listed breeds who were not naturally predisposed to having this disease as being affected. These claims have prompted investigations by the FDA to determine whether or not canine diets that included ingredients like potatoes, peas, and other legumes are facilitating the development of this disease in breeds who are at a lower risk for getting DCM.
While grain-free dog food has recently grown in popularity, let’s take a moment to find out what the difference really is. Regular dog food often contains ingredients like rice, oats, wheat, soy, and corn; grain-free or gluten-free varieties omit these ingredients and use substitute carbs, like potatoes and pulses (beans). Grains may seem relatively unimportant for dogs, but they are actually a rich source of dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, and protein. Plus, the carbohydrates in grains give your pup a supply of energy they can use to stay active.
It's important to note that different dog breeds require more or less specialized diets and care, leaving it up to the owner to provide them with the necessary missing supplements. Feeding your dog a certain diet doesn't necessarily reduce their risk of being affected by DCM, but being sure that they are receiving all of the nutrients they need can protect them from illnesses and other complications related to a poor diet. Being sure to give your furry friend a varied diet, and speaking to your local vet and pet store associates for more information is your best bet-- your pup will be happier and healthier for it!