Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart disease that is common in a handful of breeds of dogs. Recent studies have found numerous cases in dogs that normally do not develop this type of heart disease. Further studies have shown a link between DCM and certain foods, particularly grain-free diets. This is a serious, life-threatening condition that can potentially be reversed with a dietary change.
We have found an alarming number of dogs being fed grain-free diets for no particular reason other than really good marketing by the dog food companies. Grain-free diets are beneficial only when a dog has an allergy to a specific grain. Otherwise, there is little benefit to feeding these diets.
Current recommendations are to feed a diet with standard ingredients: beef or chicken as the protein source and corn, wheat, rice or barley as the carbohydrate source. We recommend avoiding diets listed as grain-free and those containing peas, lentils, other legumes and potatoes as main ingredients.
This issue is still being researched and is thought to be affected by many factors. If you have been feeding a grain-free diet to your dog, please contact our office for further advice. Additionally, if your dog has been eating grain-free and is now showing symptoms such as coughing, heavy breathing, listlessnes or decreased appetite, please schedule an appointment to fully evaluate the situation.