Last Updated: February 12, 2020
Thanks for your interest in learning more about DCM – here’s our latest statement on DCM – it’s our short version of what you should consider when you’re researching DCM.
It’s impossible to determine a cause and effect relationship between diet and DCM due to a lack of standardization and so many different variables in any current studies or reporting including from the FDA. Any breed can present with a DCM phenotype and there are many known causes including an inherited predisposition or another cause (viral, tick-borne, autoimmune etc). Cardiovascular disease is the fourth most common cause of death in dogs and DCM represents about 10% of cardiac diagnoses. (Genetics of Human and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy – Internal Journal of Genomics) It’s very difficult to identify to the cause of the DCM, especially dietary issues although some breeds have a poor ability to either synthesize their own Taurine from the amino acids in the food or underutilize the Taurine levels in the diet. A heart biopsy can determine if there’s an inflammation of the myocardium which is a known cause of DCM in dogs. Fortunately there are a number of studies going on to determine what steps need to be taken (if any) but it might be five years before we know what’s really going on but the best thing a pet parent can do is to add in fresh, whole food sources every day to their pet’s diet, rotate their foods and add in good natural sources of Taurine into their dogs diet like sardines, hearts, liver, fermented raw goat milk, etc. Regardless of whether the food is grain-free or has grain the diet must contain sufficient levels of meat protein and not protein primarily from plants. ( e.g. rice, oat groats, brewers rice, wheat, corn gluten meal, etc. Also, watch the peas and lentils more common in the grain free diets) Meat protein is key to ensure the proper levels of amino acids for your pet’s diet. Know what your pet is eating. This is a nutritional standard that has never changed. There’s no simple answer but being informed is key.
We’ve added more links for additional information regarding DCM so that you have ample information to help you better understand your dog’s health and nutrition needs.
We are staying on top of the situation and we’d like to let you know that we’ve always carried a variety of high quality diets for pets that include grains as well as our grain free varieties as well as our extensive whole raw foods, freeze dried, dehydrated and baked food options. In addition, we have many whole food supplements that can boost your pet’s nutrition no matter what food your feeding.
We are here for you and we’re staying on top of this on-going investigation because your pet’s health is our number one priority since 2004.
Here’s a lot more information regarding the on-going FDA investigation:
Weâ€™ve been talking to many concerned customers about the recent status update from the FDA and the issue of a potential link between diet related DCM – Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy and dogs eating a grain-free diet.
We wanted to take the opportunity to break this down for you. (This post is rather long but we believe itâ€™s important information for you)
We take the health of your pet very seriously and our passion for the health and well-being of our animals was the big reason we opened Four Muddy Paws 15 years ago. The pet food industry has changed a great deal in the past 15 years and weâ€™ve seen our share of recalls including the massive recall in 2007 due to melamine in pet food. Itâ€™s important to remember that the FDA has not issued any recalls with this latest update but we understand how alarming these updates can be especially when it comes to the health of our own pets.
Hereâ€™s what we know so far about this report:
- Per the FDA report, â€śthe American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of April 30, 2019, the FDA has received reports about 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet. Tens of millions of dogs have been eating dog food without developing DCM.â€ť
- Thatâ€™s 560 dogs out of 72 million. Approximately one in four dogs will get cancer every year and nearly half of all dogs over ten will die from it. Now, that’s something to be concerned about, in comparison to the 0.000007% chance of DCM.
- The brands associated with the increase in DCM are the most popular brands and not solely those available in the small independent pet market but the big brands as well.
- Originally it was thought that exotic proteins were the issue but the FDA reports that 75% were not exotic proteins but actually chicken. Not that chicken itself is the issue just that itâ€™s the most popular protein.
- 95% of the dogs were fed solely dry kibble and not rotated off any particular food, sometimes for years.
- 25% of the dogs are predisposed to getting DCM genetically.
- This is an on-going investigation and the FDA has based their statement on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.
Weâ€™ve talked a lot about nutrition over the years and our philosophy has always been about adding in variety into your petâ€™s diet, adding in fresh foods into the diet and supplementing with additional whole food supplements which is why we call these our â€śmagic in the bowlâ€ť products.
This is also exactly why we designed our WAG Club Loyalty Program the way we did. We want to encourage you to change up your petâ€™s food on a regular basis and still get rewarded with a FREE bag of food for every 10 that you purchase of that size, regardless of manufacturer. Weâ€™ve always encouraged our Fresh Raw Feeders to rotate among three different proteins from three different manufacturers. Every pet is different and every pet food is different. Our bodies crave variety and need variety to thrive rather than just survive. Thatâ€™s why we donâ€™t eat a bowl of â€ścomplete and balancedâ€ť Total cereal at every meal for years and expect to be healthy – especially if we donâ€™t add in a banana, blueberries, etc. to add extra nutrition to our own food. So, we need to make sure weâ€™re adding in whole foods to our petâ€™s diets too in addition to feeding a wide variety of foods.
Here are the three things we believe you can do right now to bring more variety into your petâ€™s diet.
- Change Proteins regularly
- Change Manufacturers regularly
- Add in Variety with whole fresh foods and supplements
Remember that the amino acids in question for our pets’ heart health only come from fresh animal protein sources. Taurine, Cystine and Methionine. Most dry foods must add them back in after cooking and they are synthetic and not from a whole food source. We advocated that you should add in animal protein-rich fresh foods whenever you can.
Weâ€™ve always encouraged moving toward a fresh food diet as much as possible. On a scale of processed foods, you want to move toward the top of pyramid with whole raw foods giving your petâ€™s bodies the nutrients they need to thrive and create a healthy microbiome in their gut and a healthy immune system to have the body function at an optimal level. Focusing on giving your pet more protein-rich foods rather than carb-rich foods makes a big difference. Adding in a fermented raw goat or cow milk/kefir, extra taurine, prebiotics/probiotics, raw eggs, chicken hearts and digestive enzymes can help supplement what your petâ€™s bodies need. Ideally, you can do this at least a few times a week but at a minimum please rotate your petâ€™s food on a very regular basis.
On a personal note, our dogs have always been fed a variety of raw diets that we carry at Four Muddy Paws. Weâ€™ve always rotated their proteins and manufacturers with every bag we purchase. However, that doesnâ€™t mean that we donâ€™t supplement with additional nutrients too. Working with our holistic veterinarian weâ€™re able to give our boys the additional nutrients they need. We discovered a couple of years ago that Foster has a heart arrhythmia so we give him additional Taurine every day to support his heart health. If youâ€™re concerned about your own pet you can work with your own Vet and have your petâ€™s Taurine levels tested. Knowledge is power and being aware of what our pets are eating is one of the most important gifts we can give them.
Weâ€™re in this together and weâ€™re working every day to educate ourselves and educate you about your petâ€™s health and well-being. Rest assured; weâ€™re following this situation very closely. The options for our pets have greatly improved over the past 15 years but our knowledge is not yet perfect and we continue to learn more every day and why we must continue to be advocates for our petâ€™s health. This is why weâ€™ve always carried a wide variety of foods containing grains, grain-free options plus dehydrated, freeze dried and raw options. Please know that we take your support very seriously and we will do everything we can to give you the options you need to help your pets live a long and healthy life together.
We thank you for your continued trust in the care of your pets,
Jeff Jensen and Matt Brazelton, Foster and Potter and our dedicated teams at both Lafayette Square and Edwardsville