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Dog Food and Cardiomyopathy: The FDA answers questions about a possible connection between certain dog-food ingredients and dilated cardiomyopathy.

The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) issued a warning in July about a possible link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart-muscle disease, and certain dog-food ingredients (see DogWatch, September 2018). Unfortunately, that release raised more questions than answers. The CVM defends its early release of the information, stating, "The CVM felt a responsibility to shed light on an early signal that we have been made aware of and to solicit reports from pet owners and vets that may know of related cases. The data provided through reports will help inform the investigation."

However, in response to the many questions received, the CVM released FAQs to help us better understand what's happening.

What potential connection is the FDA investigating?

The FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between DCM and dogs eating certain pet foods containing legumes like peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. We began investigating after the CVM received reports of DCM in dogs eating these diets. DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because many of the reported cases occurred in breeds of dogs not typically genetically prone to the disease and were reported to have been fed the same type of diet (labeled as "grain-free").

What is the FDA doing about this?

We are working to better understand the clinical presentation of the cases. We have been in contact with pet-food manufacturers to discuss these reports and help further the investigation. Also, we are analyzing information from case reports submitted by pet owners and veterinarians.

How many cases have been reported to the FDA?

Prior to issuing our public notification on July 12, 2018, the FDA received sporadic reports involving 30 dogs and seven cats. In the reports we received, some of the dogs showed signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse. We are aware that the veterinary cardiology community has received more reports (approximately 150 as of July 12, 2018). Since issuing the public notification, CVM has received many additional reports, but we are still in the process of reviewing them.

What brands of food have been included in the reports to the FDA?

There is a range of different brands and formulas included in the reports. Rather than brands, the common thread appears to be legumes (peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts), pulses (seeds of legumes), and/or potatoes as main ingredients in the food. This also includes protein, starch, and fiber derivatives of these ingredients, (e.g., pea protein, pea starch, or pea fiber). Some reports we have received also seem to indicate that the pets were not eating any other foods for several months to years prior to exhibiting signs of DCM.

What does the FDA consider a "main ingredient"?

There is no hard-and-fast rule for what qualifies as a "main ingredient." We generally consider a "main ingredient" to be listed in a food's ingredient list before the first vitamin or mineral ingredient.

Does the FDA know what it is about these foods that may be connected to canine DCM?

At this time, it is not clear what it is about these diets that may be connected to DCM in dogs. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a potential cause of DCM, but it is not the only cause of DCM. Nutritional makeup of the main ingredients or how dogs process them, main ingredient sourcing, processing, amount used, or other factors could be involved.

How do I know if my pet's food is one of the diets discussed in the FDA's public notification?

We suggest reviewing the ingredient list on your pet's food to see whether legumes and/or potatoes are listed as one of the main ingredients.

Should I avoid grain-free diets?

High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as "grain-free," but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Additionally, legumes and potatoes may appear as ingredients in foods that are not labeled as "grain-free." Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.

fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm6l6279.htm
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Title Annotation:READER QUESTIONS
Publication:Dog Watch
Date:Oct 1, 2018
Words:700
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