Healthy Paws: Are Grain Free Diets Good for Pets?

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

We have been asked a lot recently about our take on grain free diets and a possible link to dogs developing a serious heart condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).

There’s still a lot of unknowns out there — but here is what we do know:

About two years ago cardiologists a the veterinary school at UC Davis started seeing an uptick in the number of golden retrievers with DCM and started noting that most of these dogs were on a grain free diet. They also noticed that many of these dogs had low taurine levels (an important amino acid, whose deficiency has been linked to DCM in cats and dogs).

The possible relationship between diet and DCM was also noted in 2017 by the Morris Animal Foundation, which is currently undergoing a huge study involving 2,000+ golden retrievers for their Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

Then, last month the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine put out a notice that they were also going to start investigating the possible link between grain free diets and DCM in dogs that are not typical in their presentation or genetic susceptibility. This led to a bit of a firestorm of publicity and was picked up by news outlets like NBC and the New York Times… and then lots of questions by concerned pet parents.

The best article out there currently is written by the veterinary nutritionist at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Lisa Freeman. She excellently goes into what we know, what we don’t know and things we can be doing. You can find her article here.

Additionally, local veterinary cardiology group Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates, has put up a statement on their website with guidance for pet owners.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pets food, about DCM or your pets general health. It’s what we’re here for!

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