NATIONAL (WCIA) — After a number of dogs were diagnosed with heart disease, the FDA is now saying it’s investigating.
Lola has been on grain-free food the majority of her life. She was recently diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. Veterinarians believe it’s because of her diet. It all started with her annual appointment at Sports Vet Medical Center.
“During a traditional physical exam for a yearly wellness on a dog, we’re going to do kind of a full nose-to-tail exam.”
Now, this wasn’t our first time seeing Dr. Dayle Dillon and, at 5-years old, Lola has always been a healthy dog.
“In listening to her heart, the sounds that her heart was making were a little bit abnormal, so there was almost a little bit of muffle or kind of whooshing noise that we were seeing or that we were hearing in between the heartbeats.”
She then suggested a chest x-ray and said either we need to keep an eye on this, or she’ll send us to the UI for further testing.
“The heart is a muscle and, if it’s having to work hard, just like if you were to go to the gym and lift weights, the muscle’s going to get bigger. If the heart looks like it’s an irregular size and shape, then we start to get concerned that there’s actually a problem with the heart and the way it’s functioning.”
Sure enough, Lola’s heart was too big.
“So, the first question for you then was what sort of diet is Lola on, and so when you told me that she was on a grain-free diet, that was my first concern.”
Recent studies show a link between grain-free food and heart disease; specifically dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM. UC Davis released its findings in December and now the FDA is getting involved saying it’s going to investigate further. But, it’s not just grain-free diets.
“What we would call BEG diets, so boutique, exotic, grain-free diets.”
Dr. Dillon sent us to see Dr. Saki Kadotani at the UI. She suggested an echo-cardiogram. The results of the ultrasound allowed her to diagnose Lola with DCM.
“Luckily, the rest of her heart was normal and her degree of decreased function was not as severe as some of the other dogs I’ve seen.”
Hopefully, we caught it early enough where switching her food and medication will help her. As for your dogs, you could switch them off grain-free food if they don’t need it for allergies, but experts say more research still needs to be done.
“We don’t know what it is about these diets that are potentially impacting dogs. We just know that, you know, with the dogs we’re seeing, the biggest connecting factor that we can find is these diets.”
Both agree, the most important thing you can do is talk to your vet. If you think your dog has a condition because of the food you’re serving, you can report it to the FDA.