Update On Heart Disease And Dog Diets

Author: Dr. Brian Smith

Recently news outlets have been reporting on the link between grain-free dog diets, heart disease, and the role of peas in the problem.

Veterinary cardiologists started noticing an unusual heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in 2018. DCM is not a new disease, but it was unusual in the breeds of dogs and the ages of the dogs. Epidemiology on the situation appears to indicate a link to dog foods marketed as “Grain-Free.”

A recent study is suggestive that the condition may be related to diets that are primarily lentil-based. This does not mean that diets with lentil ingredients are a problem. They have been used without issue in dog foods for decades. However, the creation of dog foods that use these as the primary ingredient seems to be linked with the recent DCM cases. Therefore, if your dog food uses pea fiber or parts of lentils in its composition, that is no concern. If your dog food has peas or another lentil as the primary source of nutrition, you should consider changing the food or speaking with your veterinarian during your yearly check-ups. (Note: I say consider because there have been a rare case or two I have seen that is a geriatric dog with historical food allergies that I have advised against changing.)

For more information and if you wish to keep up with this rapidly changing issue, consider the following website and blog as recommended by veterinary cardiologists from the Veterinary Information Network. The information in this memo is from these sites and the Veterinary Information Network from Mark Rishniw, Paul Pion, and Mark Kittleson titled “Diet Related Myocardial Failure in Dogs.”