Grain Free Foods and DCM

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Grain Free Foods and DCM

Post by zeta1454 » 08 Aug 2018, 12:47

The subject of grain free foods being a significant factor in the development of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dogs has recently been highlighted in the press and across social media including a recent mention on another thread on this Forum. I have been looking at how this has been reported in a number of places across the world / internet and it is an interesting insight into how the media can use a "story" to manipulate rather than inform the public.

This is a link to more information on Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM):

It has happened before, and will continue to happen, that big corporations holding sway or influence over the media will use it to their advantage when required, knowing that there often need be no truth at all in a story that is circulated for uncritical readers to accept and share it. Other times there is a serious topic of interest (such as whether a particular kind of food is having a detrimental effect on health) but it can be twisted to serve the interests of big business - or in this instance the multi billion dollar Pet Food Industry primarily the big kibble manufacturers Royal Canin, Hills, Purina etc.

Many of the articles on this topic have headlined "grain free foods" which is of course a very wide ranging description which would include everything from kibble / wet food / raw meat home cooked food that simply does not have cereal grains. So one could be led to believe that somehow it is grains alone that are beneficial to heart health and their lack is damaging the health of not only breeds genetically predisposed to DCM but also other breeds where this condition is rarely found. Mention has been made of taurine which is an essential need for cats in their diet as they cannot manufacture this themselves unlike dogs and humans. Taurine is found in meat and fish primarily and not at all in grains. There is a link at the end of this article which has a list of foods with their taurine content: ... condition/

Some articles have gone back to source more closely and, despite misleading headlines, have acknowledged that the problem may (although still unproven) be linked to high legume content in kibble. In certain brands of food, peas, beans, chickpeas etc. are added to kibble in disproportionate levels to the meat / fish in order to boost the protein content and suggest to the purchaser that the dog food is good as it has a high protein level despite the fact very little of this is from quality meat sources. This piece is also enlightening as to what may have triggered the subsequent bias of the rash of anti-grain free articles that appeared in the US and Britain: ... 2rF_dHTWf3

Note the mention of Purina and that various un-named pet food manufacturers had been contacted by the FDA re the high levels of legumes and potatoes in their dog food. However, by the time this story is circulated in the West, the culprit (still unproven) is not high legume foods but "grain free", "boutique" (?) ; raw food and the blame lies with the ignorant people who believe that home prepared, high meat content or raw meat meals could possibly be better for their dogs than highly processed industrial produced feed from multinational pet food corporations. Quoted in the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper:

Dr Steven Rosenthal, a veterinary cardiologist with the CVCA, said a high percentage of the dogs he is treating for DCM are on grain-free diets.
"Along with other veterinary cardiologists around the US we were starting to see a trend of boutique diets," he said.
"There's been an increase in the availability of different pet foods on the market and our highly dedicated pet owners are seeking out diets that are marketed to be more healthy, grain free, sometimes even vegan diets. 
"There's also a population of pet owners that are feeding their dogs raw food as well. What is the link between the diet is still a question but it's a concern because we're seeing this disease in pets that aren't predisposed to these conditions.

And from an American veterinary college who boast on their website: “We have a long and successful history of corporate collaboration.”

Reconsider your dog’s diet. If you’re feeding a boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diets, I would reassess whether you could change to a diet with more typical ingredients made by a company with a long track record of producing good quality diets.  And do yourself a favor –  stop reading the ingredient list!  Although this is the most common way owners select their pets’ food, it is the least reliable way to do so.  And be careful about currently available pet food rating websites that rank pet foods either on opinion or on based on myths and subjective information. It’s important to use more objective criteria (e.g., research, nutritional expertise, quality control in judging a pet food). The best way to select what is really the best food for your pet is to ensure the manufacturer has excellent nutritional expertise and rigorous quality control standards

I am sure they do not want people to read the ingredient labels. =)) =))
This is a typical example from a well known big brand kibble supposedly designed specifically for Miniature Schnauzers:

Rice, dehydrated poultry protein, maize, vegetable protein isolate*, maize gluten, animal fats, minerals, hydrolysed animal proteins, chicory pulp, fish oil, vegetable fibres, psyllium husks and seeds, fructo-oligo-saccharides, soya oil, borage oil, green tea and grape extracts (source of polyphenols), hydrolysed crustaceans (source of glucosamine), marigold extract (source of lutein), hydrolysed cartilage (source of chondroitin).

Wow, that sounds just the sort of ingredients mini schnauzers love! How is it that in humans a healthy diet is one with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, (possibly including) meat, fish and a range of whole grains etc. avoiding highly processed foods with unidentifiable fats, sugars etc. and yet we are to believe that dogs do best on exactly that - highly processed, low quality proteins and supplemented vitamins and minerals to give the feed a basic nutritional value.

Purina itself also has a guide to canine dentition on its website, which explains what the different teeth of a dog are designed for:

"Incisors are the small teeth found at the front of a dog’s mouth. They are used for scraping, as their shape makes them ideal for trying to scrape meat from bones. Dogs also use their incisors when grooming themselves."

Canines are the long and pointed teeth found towards the front of your dog’s mouth, behind its incisors. These teeth are used for tearing food such as meat apart.

Pre-molars are the sharp-edged teeth found behind a dog’s canines. They are usually used to chew and shred any food a dog may be eating. You may notice your dog chewing a meaty bone with the side of their mouth; this is so their pre-molars shred the meat away from the bone.

And yet we are supposed to believe that actually dogs benefit from a bowl of dry extruded kibble!

DCM is a serious condition and although heredity has been shown to be a significant factor in certain breeds and diet may very well play an important role in alleviating or preventing the condition in certain dogs, the current situation is that nothing is as yet proven re the role of any food where dogs are concerned. All indications are that the investigation by the FDA into certain brands of un-named dog food has been used in a hostile and manipulative way by big corporations to fight back at the growing trend away from industrially produced highly processed poor quality feed towards a more natural, high meat / fish based diet, products fed with minimal processing by small companies who actually care more for the welfare of dogs than for their share price, dividends and market domination. It is fear of the pet owners discovering how much healthier their dogs are on less processed, high quality meat diets that motivates these diet-linked health scare stories as more people turn away from the ludicrous ranges of mass produced feed for dogs of different sizes/ breeds / neuter status/ ill health etc. when all they really need is good quality natural food!
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

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Re: Grain Free Foods and DCM

Post by Oscar 12345 » 08 Aug 2018, 13:32

Leigh, thanks for this, it is very interesting. I do need to thank you actually, you mentioned a food on the forum some weeks ago and I have just transitioned Otto on to it. I had been searching for human grade feed for a while so very pleased to have found one.
Every snack you make
Every meal you bake
Every bite you take
He'll be watching you......

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