Several pet food brands sold in Canada have been linked to an apparent spike in canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
An investigation into certain diets and a heightened risk of the condition is continuing south of the border and, for the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has named the brands most frequently linked to DCM.
The announcement is the latest in the agency’s investigation into more than 500 reports of DCM in dogs eating pet foods containing a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes in various forms as main ingredients. According to the FDA, the greater frequency of reports may signal a potential increase in cases of DCM in dogs not genetically predisposed to it.
To date, the FDA has neither established why certain diets may be associated with the development of DCM in some dogs, nor does it suggest owners stop feeding these brands to their pets. It does, however, recommend veterinarians work with clients to determine the appropriate diet for a dog’s specific needs.
“We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods,” says Steven M. Solomon, DVM, MPH, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM).
“Our ongoing work in this area is a top priority for the FDA, and as our investigation unfolds and we learn more about this issue, we will make additional updates to the public. In the meantime, because we have not yet determined the nature of this potential link, we continue to encourage consumers to work closely with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to select the best diet for their pets’ needs.”
The pet food brands most frequently associated in reports of DCM to the FDA are:
- Taste of the Wild;
- Earthborn Holistic;
- Blue Buffalo;
- Nature’s Domain;
- California Natural;
- Natural Balance;
- Nature’s Variety;
- Nutro; and
- Rachael Ray Nutrish.
When reached for comment, the Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) deferred to its U.S. counterpart, Pet Food Institute (PFI), which said: “PFI agrees with statements from the FDA that this is a complex issue with many factors requiring scientific evaluation. As an industry, we have come together to further study the impact of pet food ingredients, product formulation and processing, and pet physiology, on canine health and longevity. PFI members are collaborating internally and sharing relevant information for scientific analysis as we work together to expand the understanding of any potential connection between DCM and diet.”
In response to the announcement, Blue Buffalo released a statement, which reads: “Blue Buffalo is evaluating all of the data shared by the FDA last week, and will be utilizing this data in our own research regarding canine DCM. We will continue to keep pet parents updated on this important issue.”
Edmonton-based Champion Petfoods, which makes Orijen and Acana, took issue with the FDA’s decision to release the names of the brands linked to reports of DCM.
“[The FDA’s] update today provides no causative scientific link between DCM and our products, ingredients, or grain-free diets as a whole,” it wrote on its website. “We think it is misleading for the FDA to post the names of brands, while at the same time fully stating they have no scientific evidence linking diet to DCM. We feel this will only serve to further confuse pet lovers.”
The FDA first issued an alert about its investigation in July 2018 and provided an update on the inquiry in February 2019. Since then, the agency’s CVM has been collaborating with a variety of groups within the animal health sector to collect and evaluate information about DCM cases and the diets pets ate prior to becoming ill.
The agency is encouraging pet owners and veterinary professionals to report both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of dogs suspected to have DCM connected to diet online.
To read the updated investigation, click here.