Information on Grain Free Diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

  • Grain-free diets are being blamed for the recent spike in DCM in dogs, but to put the blame entirely on these specific types of diets would be simplifying as well as missing the underlying issue.
    • There is likely a “perfect storm” of genetic predisposition, a GI microbiota alteration or difference, and problematic pet food formulation/processing.
  • In the early to mid-2000s there was a similar scare with Newfoundlands and a few other uncommon DCM breeds fed lamb and rice bran diets.
    • These diets were low in protein, were not methionine/taurine supplemented (methionine and cysteine are precursors for taurine synthesis in dogs), were high in insoluble and soluble fiber and contained large amounts of ash.
    • This is very similar to what is going on today, except the diets being talked about are grain-free.
  • Common factors in implicated kibble diets:
    • Protein is below 26% as fed or less than 65g per 1,000 kcal.
      • No Wynwood Dog Food Diets are at or below 65g/1,000kcal
    • The protein is a mix of meat and plant protein.
    • Companies are not checking the specific amino acid content or the quality of those amino acids in the diet.
    • High ash content.
      • This means more bone-related protein in the diet, which is a poor source of protein.
      • Ash content is not typically found on dog food labels.
        • All Wynwood Dog Food diets have very low ash content due to proteins we source. Ash levels can be found in our Diet Analysis Guidebook.
      • Because methionine and cysteine are sulfur-containing amino acids, they can become oxidized during processing which will make their availability lower than what the manufacturer is expecting.
    • High levels of insoluble and soluble fibers derived from peas, beans and/or legumes.
      • Soluble fiber increases the bacteria in the GI tract that may be consuming taurine, which could be causing less reabsorption in the small intestine.
      • There may be an unknown unique interaction in the pet food causing a loss of taurine absorption.
        • For many years, grain-free carbohydrate sources have been used safely, particularly in novel protein diets.
  • It is critical pet foods are formulated by qualified veterinary nutritionists.
    • All Wynwood Dog Food diets are formulated by Dr. Justin Shmalberg, DVM, DACVN.