On June 27th, 2019 the FDA released a status update about the ongoing investigation of the potential link between boutique/exotic ingredient/grain-free (BEG) diets and a specific heart condition called DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). This statement breaks down 515 canine cases that have been reported in the last several years and lists specific brands associated with 10 or more DCM cases.

View the full FDA report HERE

What we know so far about dogs and BEG diets:

  • DCM cases have increased with the increase in popularity of BEG diets.
  • Many breeds affected are not the typical breeds that develop DCM.
  • It is not just grain-free diets, but we have not identified the underlying cause.
  • There are many dogs on BEG diets that don’t develop DCM, so there is likely a genetic component.
  • Dogs that respond to diet change +/- supplementation show improvement in heart size and muscle function over several months. Some show improvement but not complete resolution, while others’ DCM fully resolves.
  • Some dogs with suspected diet-related DCM are taurine deficient despite adequate taurine levels listed in diets.
Outside the diets:

  • There is no association between diet and heart valve disease, which is often accompanied by a heart murmur. Unfortunately, dogs with DCM may not have a heart murmur at all.
  • Some breeds have a genetic predisposition to developing primary DCM, unrelated to diet.
Recommendations:
Dogs on BEG diets without symptoms:

  • Since we do not know the exact cause and what population is at risk, diet change to one with standard ingredients, that is manufactured by a company where feeding trials are completed and has veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists on staff is recommended.
  • Even if taurine is present on the ingredient list, discontinuing a BEG diet is still recommended.
  • Lamb and rice diets should be avoided as they have been associated with breed-specific taurine deficiency in the past.
Dogs on BEG diets with symptoms:

  • Some DCM symptoms include signs of lethargy, weakness, collapse, exercise intolerance, coughing and/or changes in respiratory rate/effort.
  • Contact your primary care veterinarian or emergency veterinary facility as soon as possible if your dog has experienced any symptoms of DCM.
  • Dogs with symptoms should be seen by their primary care veterinarian and/or referred to a veterinary cardiologist for diagnostics is highly recommended.
Reporting cases:
Cases of suspected diet-related DCM should be reported to the FDA. It can be done by clients or veterinary professionals.
Cases can be reported here: Safety Reporting Portal

For more information on Lakeshore Veterinary Specialist’s Cardiology department, please visit us HERE
Or call our Glendale location at 1-414-540-6710