Communicating about DCM to pet parents

The pet food industry should help consumers understand the documented science behind DCM, including genetics, proper nutrition and feeding practices. | Jin Neoh | Jin Neoh

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) has been considered and documented as a genetic or heritable disease in dogs for decades, rather than a disease that can be compartmentalized into two types – genetic versus nutritional – as the current investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to do. Rather than elevating theory to dogma and consumer complaints to facts, should we not endeavor to limit demonization of certain pet food ingredients and help consumers understand breed inheritance, proper nutritional principles and feeding practices?

Here are suggested points to convey when communicating with pet owners:

  • Everyone in the pet food industry is saddened that pets suffer from DCM and other illnesses. However, science has documented that DCM is genetically predisposed and related to improper pairings.
  • Diseases are found in most breeds through inbreeding and improper genetics. New genetic kits are being developed that will aid proper selection of breeding pairs.
  • If your pet has DCM or is a breed that is considered high-risk, keep them on a complete and balanced food and limit treating. Supplementing with taurine and/or L-carnitine could be prudent.
  • It is easy to demonize peas and other legumes, but no science exists to directly link these high-quality pet food ingredients to the onset of DCM.

For a full review of the genetic aspects of DCM, see “Dissecting DCM: how genetics can impact canine nutrition,” published in the January 2020 issue of Petfood Industry:

For more about the FDA investigation, its updates and consumer reactions to date, see and

Page 1 of 8
Next Page