Grain-Free, Exotic Dog Food Linked to Heart Disease

You need to read this article if you want to avoid potentially spending hundreds of dollars a month on prescription medications for you dog or, even worse, having to watch your dog slowly die. That is the warning given by the Food and Drug Administration about a fad dog diet that has been responsible for the deaths of more than 2 dozen dogs and has caused potentially hundreds of others to be on medication for the rest of their lives.

The problem is that because of the lack of data, the number of affected dogs could be much larger. So carefully read what follows to be informed and take the necessary precautions to avoid having your faithful friend get sick.

To begin, the medical condition that has resulted from the fad diets has a technical name of dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM. The current knowledge base has this condition being present in only a few of the larger dogs, such as Great Danes and Newfoundlands. DCM has been known to be a genetic trait found in these dogs, and smaller dogs were virtually absent of acquiring this condition. Recent reports to the FDA have much smaller dogs contracting the same condition for no apparent reason and no genetic predisposition to the ailment.

That left the researchers to eliminate all the possibilities, and what they discovered was their owners were participating in a fad diet that virtually eliminated all types of grains from the dog’s diet, replacing them with peas, lentils, and potatoes. Some owners may have been unwitting participants in the fad, buying the fad dog food recommended by friends, neighbors, or even canine magazines. One suspicion is that vegan advocates decided to extend their dietary choices on to their dogs.

Whether you agree with the vegan lifestyle or not, dogs are not people too. The science behind the nutrition requirements of a dog is that they need grains to assist in the production of taurine. It is an amino acid that is essential to a dog’s health, and is provided by the dog’s eating meat, whether it is chicken or beef. Substituting meat with vegetables in dog foods and eliminating grains, which at least have low amounts of taurine, provide zero taurine to keep your dog healthy.

The reduced levels of taurine cause the dog to get sick, with them losing their appetite, being generally lethargic, and they may even begin to have seizures. These are the signs of the aforementioned DCM, where the dog’s heart becomes enlarged and their lungs begin filling with fluid. In some cases the condition is irreversible and the dog will suddenly just die.

When it comes to dog food, the FDA has little actual control of its ingredients before it hits the consumer market. This means that you as a dog owners need to do your due diligence and be sure to check the ingredients of each can of dog food to ensure it has a sufficient amount of meat and the lower level taurine grains to ensure your dog’s heart health. Even better, avoid getting involved with fad diets, no matter who the recommendation comes from.

Animal advocates have been vocal about the problem since it first became known, but the problem is that the FDA has limited powers in the area of pet food. They can take action when an animal food is demonstrated to be unsafe or if a label on a can or bag of pet food is clearly inaccurate or misleading. A problem with the lack of taurine is that it can take months or even years for the dog to reach a toxic state of taurine deficiency. Because this is a new problem, there is not much data on how to identify specific symptoms. Some dog owners thought that their dog’s simply had an allergy.

We can end this article by giving you a real world company as an example of what to watch out for.

A dog owner who had two mini-Schnauzers had fed their dogs California Natural dog food. One flavor was kangaroo and red lentil, the other was venison and green lentil. They were on this diet for several months. One of the dogs became ill enough to the point where they were taken to the veterinarian for treatment. A few weeks later the dog died of DCM. The second dog became just as ill shortly thereafter, but the condition was diagnosed early enough. While the dog lived, it is required to be on heart medication for the rest of its life at a cost of more than $100 a month.

As for the California Natural dog food manufacturer, it posted a message on its website that the company was closing its doors effective the summer, 2018. It has modified its sales pitch, so while no longer selling California Natural it does recommend pet owners to consider the Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet. It is a grain-free product for pets with food sensitivities.

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