Dogs and the Grain-Free Diet

The latest information on canine nutrition.

Recently, we have seen a lot of information in the news about certain dog foods and a potentially fatal condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This information can be very confusing and scary. The people who are feeding this very specialized food to their family dog are doing it because they want the best for their pet and feel that these specialty brands are providing better nutrition than the average grocery store offerings. Also, they tend to be paying a premium price for these foods.

How do we make sense of all of this information? Let’s break it down.

Some breeds are predisposed to DCM. What set off alarms is when multiple cases of DCM was being noticed in dogs where it is atypical for their breed and they were consuming a grain-free diet. This made the FDA step back and take a look at the possible link between this condition and the food.

Just like in human food, dog foods seem to mirror these trends. As certain “superfoods” became relevant in human diets, we saw a corresponding rise in these same foods for dogs. Ten years ago, you saw nary a blueberry or sweet potato in a dog’s diet, but now these are often listed as important ingredients in their food. Just as we care for our own health and want what is best for us in our own diets, we are doing this with our dogs. Similarly, with the increased focus on a gluten or grain-free diet benefit for humans, we are seeing this trickle down to dogs. There has been a substantial rise in the grain-free food offerings for pets. Are these new superfoods good for dogs? Is grain-free the route to go when looking at a healthy diet for Fido? What are they using as filler now in dog foods and is that a concern for our fluffy friends?

The BIG question is: Do we have all the information we need to determine that this is good (or bad) for our dogs? The short answer is No.

It is too early to decide what is causing DCM in dogs, however, if you are concerned, consult with your veterinarian and let them help you find the right dog food that takes into account your dog’s breed, lifestyle and health concerns. Also, if you are noticing a change in behaviour in your beloved canine, make sure you mention this to your vet as well. Just like with our human doctors, knowing the full scope of diet, symptoms and behaviours will allow them to provide the best care and recommendations for your pup.

For more information on the food in question, we recommend reading the following article: ‘What Dog Owners Need to Know About the FDA’s Grain-Free Diet Alert’

If you have any additional questions or concerns about your pet, please give us a call at 250-746-7178 and one of our team members will be happy to assist you.