Five pet food brands accounted for nearly 58% of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019. [see infographic below]. In all, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM, some involving multiple pets, during that period. FDA officials released the names of 16 dog food brands with more than 10 cases of DCM correlated to consumption of that brand. Along with an overall update to its investigation, FDA also posted information about individual cases of DCM.
Characteristics of dog food formulations involved in DCM reports
Dry formulations made up the majority of dog foods involved in reports of DCM submitted the FDA. Of 524 cases, 452 involved dry dog food, distantly followed by multiple forms (24 cases), unknown (26), raw (9) and home-cooked, refrigerated, semi-moist and tubbed with one case each.
No causation found between dog food ingredients and DCM
While the FDA has found these correlations, they have found no causality. Thousands of dogs have eaten the same diets as the dogs stricken with DCM, to no ill effect. FDA lab analysis of grain-free versus conventional dog foods revealed little difference in levels of minerals, amino acids, taurine, protein or other nutrients.
“Another puzzling aspect of the recent spike in DCM cases is that they have occurred just in the last few years,” wrote FDA officials in the update. “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. “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.”