Diet-Related Heart Disease

We have been closely following an ongoing investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is examining a potential link between grain-free diets (and less commonly others) and the development of serious, potentially fatal heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

The FDA has now released a list of the most commonly associated dog food brand names:

DCM Chart

More than 90 percent of products were “grain-free,” and 93 percent of reported products contained peas and/or lentils. A far smaller proportion contained potatoes. Some of the affected animals have had a taurine (amino acid) deficiency, however the majority of diets are not deficient in taurine and it seems likely that other factors are involved.

Until exact correlations are made, if your pet is currently eating one of the above grain-free diets (or another grain-free diet, particularly if it contains a high proportion of peas and/or lentils), we recommend transitioning off that food.

Diets we recommend are produced by companies that have veterinarians on staff and invest heavily into diet research/development/analysis, such as Royal Canin, Hills Science Diet, and Purina.

If you have questions about a specific diet to feed your pet, please do not hesitate to contact us and schedule a nutritional consult so that the individual needs of your furry family member can be carefully assessed. The majority of pets do not truly need a grain-free diet. The most common allergens in a diet are the proteins (not the grains), however alternative grain-free hypoallergenic diets can be considered, if indicated.

Possible signs of DCM can include exercise intolerance, lethargy, collapse, rapid or difficult breathing, coughing, or enlarging abdomen (from heart failure fluid accumulation). If any of the above develop or if you have other concerns, please call to schedule an exam. In addition, rest assured that GVC veterinarians closely monitor your pet’s heart health every time they listen with a stethoscope and perform a comprehensive exam. If a murmur or other heart abnormality is identified, we will work with you to establish an appropriate plan.

Please visit for further details regarding these recent reports and future updates as they become available.

As always, also feel free to contact us with questions or concerns. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to follow it closely to help you provide the best care for your pet.