On June 27, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provided an update on its investigation into reports of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain types of pet food. As part of this update, the FDA is sharing a compilation of adverse event reports of DCM submitted to the agency through April 30, an updated case count, and new testing results.
For the first time, the agency is also posting the pet food brands most frequently identified in these adverse event reports. It’s important to note that the FDA doesn’t yet know how certain diets may be associated with DCM in some dogs. However, the FDA is first and foremost a public health agency, and takes seriously its responsibility to protect human and animal health. In the case of DCM, the agency has an obligation to be transparent with the pet-owning public regarding the frequency with which certain brands have been reported.
“We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods,” said Steven M. Solomon, D.V.M., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Our ongoing work in this area is a top priority for the FDA, and as our investigation unfolds and we learn more about this issue, we will make additional updates to the public. In the meantime, because we have not yet determined the nature of this potential link, we continue to encourage consumers to work closely with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to select the best diet for their pets’ needs.”
Between Jan. 1, 2014, when the FDA first received a few sporadic reports, and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM (515 canine reports, 9 feline reports). The majority of the reports were submitted to the FDA after its first public alert in July 2018. Some of these reports involved more than one affected animal from the same household, so the total number of affected animals is greater than 524.
In July 2018, the FDA first alerted the public about a possible link between DCM and certain pet foods, and then followed up with an additional update in February 2019 that provided additional case counts and described ongoing investigative efforts. Over the course of the investigation, the FDA has consulted with stakeholders across the animal health community to help fill any knowledge gaps that may better inform its investigation into DCM and certain diets.
Canine DCM, a disease of a dog’s heart muscle, can often result in congestive heart failure. The underlying cause of DCM is unknown, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically affected are large and giant breed dogs. However, many cases of DCM being reported to the FDA have included smaller breeds of dogs as well, suggesting a lack of a genetic connection.
The FDA will continue to investigate and will provide updates to the public as information becomes available. In the meantime, the FDA continues to encourage pet owners and veterinary professionals to report both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of dogs and cats with DCM that are suspected to be linked to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
By Lindsay Beaton
As work continues on creating a new nutrition label that focuses on simplifying information for consumers, challenges remain.
By Tang Yu