16 dog food brands correlated to DCM by FDA: Acana #1

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an update on their investigation into canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases correlated to certain grain-free dog foods.

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(pressmaster, BigStock.com)
(pressmaster, BigStock.com)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an update on their investigation into canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases correlated to certain grain-free dog foods. The FDA update provided a graph naming 16 brands eaten by dogs involved in official reports of DCM. The FDA noted that only brands named 10 or more times were included and that some reports listed multiple brands, while others listed none.

“More than 90 percent of products were ‘grain-free,’ and 93 percent of reported products had peas and/or lentils,” wrote FDA officials in the update. “A far smaller proportion contained potatoes...Another puzzling aspect of the recent spike in DCM cases is that they have occurred just in the last few years. The FDA is working with the pet food industry to better understand whether changes in ingredients, ingredient sourcing, processing or formulation may have contributed to the development of DCM."

Pet food trade group reaction

“The Pet Food Institute (PFI) agrees with statements from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) that this is a complex issue with many factors requiring scientific evaluation,” PFI President and CEO Dana Brooks said in a press release. “As an industry, we have come together to further study the impact of pet food ingredients, product formulation and processing, and pet physiology, on canine health and longevity. PFI members are collaborating internally and sharing relevant information for scientific analysis as we work together to expand the understanding of any potential connection between DCM and diet. We welcome the continued dialogue among veterinarians, ingredient suppliers and pet food makers that advances information-sharing in this regard.”

Top pet food brands associated with DCM cases

  1. Acana - 67
  2. Zignature - 64
  3. Taste of the Wild - 53
  4. 4Health - 32
  5. Earthborn Holistic - 32
  6. Blue Buffalo - 31
  7. Nature's Domain - 29
  8. Fromm - 24
  9. Merrick -16
  10. California Natural -15
  11. Natural Balance -15
  12. Orijen -12
  13. Nature's Variety - 11
  14. MutriSource - 10
  15. Nutro - 10
  16. Rachael Ray Nutrish - 10

History of federal DCM investigation 

In July 2018, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration alerted pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dog breeds without genetic predispositions to the disease. Although not associated by heredity, the dogs did share a common factor. They frequently ate dog foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. 

High levels of legumes or potatoes appear in diets labeled as grain-free, which the FDA pointed out in their warning, but it remains unknown how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM.

Findings from federal investigation of dog heart disease and diet

Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently listed potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other pulses (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for months to years.

In the reports the FDA has received, some of the dogs showed signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse. Medical records for four atypical DCM cases, three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, show that these dogs had low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is documented as potentially leading to DCM.

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