Grain-free diets for dogs have become all the buzz in recent years with lots of dog food companies, bloggers, and pet lovers extolling them as the cure for all that ails dogs. Now, I’m not going to get into all of my thoughts on this trend. (The board-certified veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine have already done that in these articles on their petfoodology blog.) What I will say though is that it tends to be (emotional) marketing that's driving the grain-free pet food craze, rather than science and an actual medical need for excluding grains from the diets of dogs — even those with food allergies. But again, that discussion is outside the scope of this particular article.
The purpose of this article is to ensure that, if you have chosen to feed your dog a grain-free diet, and especially if it's a food that contains peas, chickpeas, lentils, or potatoes in place of the grains, you are aware of the newly recognized possible link between the feeding of a grain-free diet and the development of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a very serious form of heart disease in dogs. DCM is characterized by a distention and thinning out of the muscular walls of the heart, causing it to be a less effective pump to move blood throughout the body. As you might imagine, that’s not a good thing! Dogs with DCM are at great risk of progressing to heart failure. You can learn more about the condition in this article from the good folks in the cardiology department at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Read More