MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)> — With the rising trend in grain-free dog food, veterinarians around the country have noticed some of the dogs eating this type of food have developed a form of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM.

We got a ton of feedback after our special report that aired Monday.

Related: WCCO Special Report: Grain-Free Dog Food Could Contribute To Heart Disease

Sandra wants to know: What kind of dog food caused the problem, or are they saying all grain-free dog foods are bad?

(credit: CBS)

One working theory is that it is not necessarily the lack of grains causing an issue, but rather what companies put in place of it. Ingredients like sweet potatoes, peas and other legumes might be stripping a dog’s ability to absorb taurine.

Lisa asks: What about cats? Are they affected the same way as dogs?

The research right now suggests no. If your cat is showing symptoms like coughing, sneezing, fainting and fatigue, definitely talk to your veterinarian, but right now the Food and Drug Administration’s study is predominantly involving dogs.

And the question on everyone’s mind: What’s next? The FDA is still working on its investigation and did not give us a timeline, but it is certainly something we will stay on top of.

Christiane Cordero

  1. Lisa June Roth Rojas says:

    My course of study has been in the care of domesticated pets as well as wild animals. I’ve studied, read research papers and tend to make unbiased, non-persuaded, choices based on science as well as reasonability. I do not proclaim to be an expert; however, I feel confident in my ability to share educated knowledge with others. There are a few things that pertain to health and nutrition that are undeniable and many that are questionable. I’d like to share my understanding and beliefs with you. Please keep in mind that it is obvious others will disagree and many do agree with these philosophies; hence, the reason for these trials and studies.
    The claim that this investigation is based on is stating that the “no grain” fad, has possibly been the cause in a rise of heart disorders. However, my understanding and what I urge you to consider is that it’s the high content of carbohydrates like potatoes, starches, peas, legumes that is truly the culprit. These are the replacement ingredients utilized by the manufacturer that do not providing enough taurine or interfere with its absorption in the system, not the fact that it’s no grain. The connection is when they use fewer grains, they substitute with equally inappropriate starches. In my opinion, that’s not a suitable alternative for a carnivorous species. What needs to be addressed is that they need to lower the total carbohydrate intake as opposed to replacing one carb source with another. It makes the whole “no grain” point, moot.

    “The high starch/carb content of grain-free kibble, along with other ingredients and anti-nutrients in the formulas, as well as the manufacturing process used to produce dry pet food, depletes taurine levels and may inhibit a dog’s ability to absorb and process the remaining taurine”[1] Dr. Karen Shaw Becker July 09, 2018
    I highly recommend referencing studies by Mercola, https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/07/09/link-between-dog-food-taurine-deficiency-and-dcm.aspx
    If we look at canine, first from an anatomical perspective, their teeth clearly indicate a primarily carnivorous species as does the lack of amylase in their system. They also have a short digestive track as opposed to the longer digestive tracks of omnivores or herbivores suggesting that a diet consisting of primarily meat is the species specific diet. Now, when I say “primarily” it doesn’t mean that they are obligate carnivores and some vegetation and/or grains are a healthy balance for them. In these discussions, they are talking about no grains being the “warning” instead of the ingredients used in their place which are carbohydrate filled. Potatoes, rice, oats, are all way too high in carbohydrate for a species that produces little amylase to do so. I have personally seen undeniable increase in health benefits directly as a result from feeding a more species specific diet, rather than what comes in the form of many commercial foods.
    My belief and recommendation for food choices consists of high quality meats (raw or cold pressed) with all the live enzymes and small amounts of vegetation and fruits that provide antioxidants. This is what seems reasonable to me. Just as a snake would be fed (if kept in captivity) what he would eat in the wild, live small prey. If they were not fed that, they would simply die. Same as other animals that we care for domestically, birds, fish all get a species specific diet. Why should canine and felines be fed differently? The answer to that goes way back almost 100 years when we wanted a more convenient method to feed out pets. I could go on about that but I’m trying to not sway from the purpose of my input.
    Learn, educate yourselves. One thing for sure, we all want what’s best for our pets.

    Lisa Rojas
    Dreadlocks for Dingoes, Your Local Lov’n Pet Place