Study shows grain-free diets not linked to DCM

Veterinarians and animal nutritionists worked on seven-month-long study.

Veterinarians and animal nutritionists from BSM Partners, the largest pet care research and consulting firm, and a group of board-certified veterinary cardiologists, published the results of a seven-month study that found grain-free diets had no negative impact on canine cardiac function and did not lead to the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The research appeared in a peer-reviewed article in Frontiers in Animal Science.

"This is the longest prospective study to date evaluating diet and cardiac function," said Dr. Stacey Leach DVM, DACVIM, an article co-author, and chief of cardiology and associate teaching professor of cardiology at the University of Missouri's Veterinary Health Center. "To identify any changes in cardiac function over time, our multi-disciplinary team collected and examined a wide cross-section of data."

For the study, researchers formulated four canine diets. Two diets were grain-free, contained pulse ingredients (peas and lentils) and potatoes, and included either low or high amounts of animal protein. Two diets were grain-inclusive, contained no pulse ingredients or potatoes, and included either low or high amounts of animal protein.

Researchers analyzed cardiac biomarkers, echocardiographic measurements and endomyocardial biopsies over seven months and did not detect the development of cardiac dysfunction in any of the 65 dogs fed one of the four different diets. None of the dogs developed DCM.

"While our study was unable to identify any dietary correlation to DCM, we continue to encourage our peers to perform and publish peer-reviewed controlled studies in order to improve our understanding of cardiac function and the development of DCM," said Dr. Stephanie Clark, PhD, CVT, PAS, CFS, Dpl. ACAS, VTS (Nutrition) of BSM Partners, an article co-author and a board-certified companion animal nutritionist.

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