Dilated Cardiomyopathy: 5 Safe Dog Foods That Have Never Been Recalled


Jessica is an experienced pet mom with dogs, cats, rats, fish, axolotls, a gecko, chickens, and ducks.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs and Food Recalls

The FDA put out a statement warning pet owners that several popular dog foods may be linked to dilated cardiomyopathy in certain breeds. The warning titled "Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs & Cats: Complaints Submitted to FDA-CVM" is current through April 30, 2019 [PDF]. Although many people were quick to notice that a lot of these foods are grain-free, the real problem is the ingredients that are added to grain-free food.

What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM?

DCM is a disease that is characterized by an enlarged and poorly functioning heart muscle.

Low Taurine Levels in Dogs

All of the dogs that were listed in the FDA document had been eating foods that had peas, lentils, chickpeas, and potatoes incorporated in the top of the ingredient list. Other ingredients that were linked to DCM were lamb meal and rice, soybean-based ingredients, high amounts of rice bran, and high amounts of beet pulp. These ingredients are thought to cause low taurine in dogs, which can lead to DCM.

Isn't DCM Genetic?

An article from the FDA states that DCM usually has a genetic component, but many breeds that are not usually affected presented with DCM after eating these foods. Although more research needs to be done on the subject, I decided to find dog foods with less controversial ingredient lists.

Below is a list of popular dog foods that were cited in the FDA report, and a list of the 5 best dog foods that have never been recalled and do not have controversial ingredients.

Cases of DCM per Major Dog Food Label

Dog Food LabelCases of DCM

Acana

67

Zignature

64

Taste of the Wild

53

4Health

32

Earthborn Holistic

32

Blue Buffalo

31

Natures Domain

29

Fromm

24

Merrick

16

California Natural

15

Natural Balance

15

Orijen

12

Nature's Valley

11

NutriSource

10

Nutro

10

Rachael Ray Nutrish

10

1. Free Spirit Holistic Canine Caviar

  • Make: Free Spirit Holistic
  • Name: Canine Caviar
  • Specifics: Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food
  • Type: Entrée for All Life Stages

The First 5 Ingredients

  • dehydrated chicken
  • pearl millet
  • chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
  • coconut
  • sun-cured alfalfa

This food uses single-carb and single-protein formulas and they recommend protein rotation. Their recipes are made with no GMOs, gluten, antibiotics, added hormones, steroids, by-products, or chemical preservatives. Their website claims that they are the first and only alkaline dog food and that they do not use any by-products. This company has had two types of food recalled in 2007 because of melamine, but they were both canned wet foods.

Why It's Popular

This dry food recipe has never been recalled. 96% of reviewers recommend this product on Chewy, with several reviewers said that it worked well for both picky and sensitive dogs. This food is great for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs.

2. Annamaet Original Ultra

  • Make: Annamaet Original
  • Name: Ultra
  • Type: 32% Protein Dry Dog Food

The First 5 Ingredients

  • chicken meal
  • brown rice
  • chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols or vitamin E)
  • whole, dry eggs
  • herring meal

This food does contain dried beet pulp, but it has a reasonable amount and it is not combined with too many other high-fiber foods. This recipe has high protein and fat levels for dogs that have a lot of energy, but there is also an original adult formula for older dogs and dogs with slower metabolisms. There have been no recalls at all on any of Annamaet's foods.

Why It's Popular

Overall, reviewers seem very pleased with the product. All of the chicken and fish in this food is hormone-free, and it also contains algae, which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Life's Abundance All-Stage Dog Food

  • Make: Life's Abundance
  • Name: All-Stage Dog Food

The First 5 Ingredients

  • chicken meal
  • ground brown rice
  • oat groats
  • chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
  • egg product

This food has many ingredients that provide antioxidants, including dried carrots, celery, blueberries, broccoli, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, and spinach. The eggs contain healthy fats, which leads to a glossy coat. The company also states that there is a guaranteed amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

Why It's Popular

Life's Abundance food is made weekly in small batches, so the food is fresh and more nutrient-dense than foods that are stockpiled.

4. Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Human-Grade Dog Food

  • Make: Ollie
  • Name: Healthy Turkey Feast
  • Specifics: Human-Grade Dog Food

Ingredients

Ground turkey, pumpkin, turkey thigh, turkey liver, turkey heart, carrot, turkey gizzard, lentils, kale, blueberries, coconut oil, chia seeds, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, cod liver oil, salt, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, and potassium iodate.

This brand is a little different than the others because it is made fresh. Ollie delivers the food to your house weekly in sealed packages, and then you just follow the custom feeding guidelines that they make for you. Compared to other foods, this brand has a very small ingredient list with more whole foods than fillers. The only recipe I would recommend of this brand is the healthy turkey feast because the other recipes all have potatoes, peas, and chickpeas.

Why It's Popular

Ollie is good food on its own, but they also have options to ship you smaller amounts if you want to continue feeding other foods as well. This is a good option if you want to feed your dog freshly prepared food in combination with another type.

5. Nature's Logic Canine Turkey Meal Feast

  • Make: Nature's Logic
  • Name: Canine Turkey Meal Feast
  • Specifics: Dry Dog Food

The First 5 Ingredients

  • turkey meal
  • millet
  • turkey fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
  • pumpkin seed
  • yeast culture

This is a food that I am very excited for my dog to try. Nature's Logic uses whole ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and herbs instead of adding vitamins. They also use probiotics and digestive enzymes. This is another food that is designed for protein rotation, so you can switch between different flavors. All of the recipes I have seen are free from potatoes, peas, and legumes.

Why It's Popular

There are 25 reviews on Chewy and 100% of them recommend this food.

Sources

  • "Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs & Cats: Complaints Submitted to FDA-CVM," 2019. [PDF]
  • Tyko, Kelly. 2019, June 28. "Your dog may be at risk for developing heart disease based on their food, FDA says."
  • "FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease." 2018, July 12.

Jess H (author) from Oregon on July 02, 2019:

Hi Dr Mark,

I wouldn't consider my comment on the Ollie brand a diss as much as I would consider it letting people know their options. What I said was, " Ollie is a good food on its own, but they also have options to ship you smaller amounts if you want to continue feeding other foods as well. This is a good option if you want to feed your dog fresh foods, but only feeding Ollie is too expensive." When you go to choose your food on the website they give you three options for different amounts of food, depending on if you want to feed your dog a completely fresh diet, or if you want to continue feeding other foods as well.

I think that people understand that the food is more expensive because it is fresh, and the price can make it seem a little daunting. That's why I wanted to make it clear that there are other options to try the food at a more inexpensive price. I know that there are plenty of people that can afford it, but I think it's only fair to include options for people that can't afford it and still want to give their dogs the best food that they can.

I appreciate the feedback and I hope this helped clear up any confusion!

Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 02, 2019:

Expensive does not mean the same thing to all people. Some people do not want to make up a fresh complete diet. The only one of your list is dissed as being too expensive.

There are plenty of people that can afford it. Why not say "it is more expensive than the other alteratives."

Those other alternatives, by the way, are cheaper because they are not fresh.


Acknowledgments

Within the past 3 years, Dr. Freeman has received research support from Aratana Therapeutics, Nestlé Purina PetCare, and Royal Canin has consulted with Aratana Therapeutics and Nestlé Purina PetCare has given sponsored talks for Aratana Therapeutics, Hill's Pet Nutrition, and Nestlé Purina PetCare and has served on a scientific advisory board for Aratana Therapeutics. Within the past 3 years, Dr. Rush has received research support from Aratana Therapeutics, Nestlé Purina PetCare, and Royal Canin and has consulted with Aratana Therapeutics and Nestlé Purina PetCare. Within the past 3 years, Dr. Adin has received research support from Nestlé Purina PetCare. All other authors report no relationships relevant to the contents of this editorial to disclose.

Boutique, exotic-ingredient, and grain-free


Pet food industry barks back

Zignature, for one, disputed any connection. "In parallel with the FDA investigation, our own third-party internal studies found no link between our high-quality pet food products and any of the other physical characteristics that correlate to DCM," Zignature said in a post on its site.

Champion Petfoods, which owns Arcana and Orijen, is working on its own and with others in the industry to try to determine the cause of DCM, but objected to the FDA's listing of brands.

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"We think it is misleading for the FDA to post the names of brands, while at the same time fully stating that they have no scientific evidence linking diet to DCM. We feel this will only serve to further confuse pet lovers," the company stated.

The company's research shows "Champion pet foods are safe," it said.

The Pet Food Institute, a trade group that represents 98% of pet food and treat makers, said it has consulted with nutritionists, product safety experts and veterinarians for more than a year in trying to determine if there's a link between diet and DCM. "This is a complex issue with many factors requiring scientific evaluation," Dana Brooks, the group's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Noting that the FDA's probe focused on ingredients in grain-free pet food, the agency "has not identified any established link between certain ingredients and incidents of DCM," the industry group stated on its web site, which also noted "millions of dogs eat and are thriving on grain-free dog food."

The causes of DCM "may be the result of many factors, including a recipe formulation and processing, and your individual pet," according to the institute, which advised those with questions about their pet's food to contact the manufacturer and to consult with their family vet.

Between January 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM, including 119 dog deaths and five cat fatalities. Of those reports, 222 of them came between Dec. 1, 2018, and the end of April, the agency said.

Here is the list of 16 pet food brands and the number of reported DCM cases that the FDA suspects are related to each brand:

  • Acana: 67
  • Zignature: 64
  • Taste of the Wild: 53
  • 4Health: 32
  • Earthborn Holistic: 32
  • Blue Buffalo: 31
  • Nature's Domain: 29
  • Fromm: 24
  • Merrick: 16
  • California Natural: 15
  • Natural Balance: 15
  • Orijen: 12
  • Nature's Variety: 11
  • NutriSource: 10
  • Nutro: 10
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish: 10

First published on June 28, 2019 / 3:54 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


What you can do

The FDA is open to additional opportunities for collaboration and welcomes the submission of any information that may aid in our investigation. Detailed instructions for submitting case information can be found on “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint."

Pet Owners

If a dog is showing possible signs of DCM or other heart conditions, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If the symptoms are severe and your veterinarian is not available, you may need to seek emergency veterinary care. Your veterinarian may ask you for a thorough dietary history, including all the foods (including treats) the dog has eaten.

Veterinarians

CVM encourages veterinary professionals to report well-documented cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal. The more information you are able to provide, particularly about feeding history, medical records, and diagnostic testing, the better. Detailed instructions can be found on “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint." Technical veterinary information that may aid veterinarians can be found in our Vet-LIRN Update.

Industry

The FDA looks to industry organizations and pet food manufacturers to contribute to the FDA's investigation while continuing their own investigations to help shed light on potential issues with formulas or ingredients.


Watch the video: Dog Food and Heart Disease: DCM Update


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