Is a Grain-Free diet safe?
With an increased understanding of canine nutrition, the grain-free dog food movement has taken the pet food world by storm over the last ten years or so. This can occasionally prompt a veterinary professional or friend to question the diet you are feeding in relation to what is known as DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy), a heart condition.
We will explain more about your vets DCM concern below, but the short answer is; yes a grain-free diet is safe.
During the upsurge in dog guardians choosing grain-free foods, pet food manufacturing companies began sharing comments and concerns from veterinary Drs that the grain-free processed foods could contribute to a proposed increase in DCM diagnoses. The concerns were based on only 560 diagnosed dogs and had no research or studies behind it. Yet it was widely publicised and led to the start of the concern about grain-free foods. The primary veterinary Drs voicing concerns were professionally linked with veterinary prescription food manufacturers and brands offering funding to veterinary schools and businesses. This meant easier access to the veterinary advisory channels and perhaps a possible bias, too.
Naturally, manufacturers of grain-free pet foods spoke out too, along with canine guardians who had fed grain-free diets for decades with no such diagnoses. The inclusion of legumes was put forward as a theory to the extra diagnosis’, alongside a possible reduction in Taurine in those foods, a nutrient involved in DCM. It wasn’t long before the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) in the US was asked to investigate, and a full research & review was undertaken.
In 2022, the FDA concluded with statements that outlined insufficient evidence to a causal relationship between Grain-Free pet foods (or diets) and DCM. Going on to say that they do not intend to release further public updates until they find meaningful scientific information to share.
Please find the statement and FAQ’s on the subject here: https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy
Our advice would be to continue feeding a wholefood, fresh diet to your dog, without grains and equally without legumes (eg. peas, lentils) which have little place in a canine diet. If you need to take food into your dog while visiting the vet, we suggest taking lightly cooked bone-free minces. Save the questions and simply take along fresh but lightly cooked meals for those few days.