Harrisburg, PA: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released their third update on June 27, 2019 regarding the investigation that feeding dogs “grain-free” food increases heart-related issues. The FDA began the investigation in July 2018 after reports of several dog illnesses and fatalities which appeared to have links back to boutique-style dog food labeled as “grain-free”. This latest update, and the investigation which prompted it, are causing a hysteria in the dog-lover community.
Bryan R. Langlois, DVM, President of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) clarifies that there is no need for panic, “First off, there is a saying that ‘Correlation does not equal Causation’ and that is what we have here. After first seeing an increase in cases of a specific type of heart condition in dogs, called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), where the heart muscle thins and weakens causing a difficulty in normal pumping ability, some cardiologists were noticing a lot of these dogs were being fed what are known as ‘boutique’ or ‘grain-free diets’ by their owners.” Dr. Langlois continues, “The FDA is not specifically stating that these diets cause these conditions in the dogs. They have just noted a correlation between the two. They have not issued any recalls for these foods. They are simply asking veterinarians to further study the issue.”
“Your relationship with your veterinarian is particularly important in these types of situations,” added PVMA Executive Director, Christian D. Malesic, MBA, CAE, IOM. “Abrupt changes can sometimes be more harmful. Rushing out to the pet store to find a replacement food for your dog may not be the best solution. In fact, you might just cause a problem that didn’t previously exist. Consult with your veterinarian first.”
Should you be concerned? Look for changes in behavior as a first sign. Dr. Langlois explains, “Dilated Cardiomyopathy can have many causes, and sometimes is a genetic condition in various breeds. Signs that your dog might be affected by a heart condition include coughing, being more lethargic, tiring more easily on walks, possibly fainting or getting very weak, loss of appetite, and sometimes swelling in the abdomen. If you see any of these signs in your dog it is important to have them checked by your veterinarian.”
About the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)
Founded in 1883, PVMA is PA’s only statewide professional membership organization for the veterinary profession representing over 3,400 veterinarians, certified veterinary technicians, assistants, practice managers, and other support staff. Our mission is to ensure the vitality of the profession by promoting excellence in veterinary medicine, advancing animal health and welfare, and protecting & enhancing human health. To learn more visit PaVMA.org.