Grain Free Diets: What You Need to Know
According to veterinary nutritionists, grain-free foods are one of the fastest growing segments of the pet food market today. But did you know that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has found that feeding your dog a grain-free diet can be linked to a life-threatening heart condition known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM?
DCM causes heart enlargement and weakness which can lead to abnormal cardiac rhythms, congestive heart failure, and death. While many companies market grain as a “filler,” there is no reliable evidence that suggests that feeding grain to dogs and cats is harmful. In fact, whole grains can be a source of valuable nutrients to pets’ diets, including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and fiber.
The veterinary cardiology community has seen an association between DCM and dogs who consistently ate foods containing peas, lentils, or potatoes as primary ingredients in their main source of nutrition. These ingredients appear to be more common in diets labeled “grain free,” though a definitive association has not yet been proved. The most recent reports suggest that certain breeds are at a higher risk, however, given the popularity of mixed breeds, we urge overall caution when choosing your pet’s diet.
If your pets are on a grain-free diet, we recommend that you talk to your veterinarian about changing diets right away. You should also monitor your pets closely for early signs of heart disease. These signs include weakness, slowing down, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, coughing, or fainting. If your dog is displaying any of these signs, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
We know you love your pets and would do anything to ensure they live their happiest, healthiest, and longest lives! If you have any questions, please contact Harbor Point Animal Hospital at (704) 230-0858 today to schedule a consultation and check up for your pets.