UPDATE! – Pet Nutrition – Grain-Free Foods and FDA Reports of Increased Heart Disease in Dogs

< Updated 29SEP18 >

On July 22nd we informed you of a report issued by the FDA indicating an increase of dogs presenting with canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and a possible but unconfirmed link to specific ingredients in grain-free foods < click to review > Since then Tuffy’s Pet Food, manufacturers of NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet has issued an updated report on actions that they are taking. I have included that statement below, emphasizing what I believe to be the key points.

Tuffy’s Pet Foods is issuing this statement to update our position related to the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Statement regarding the potential link between Dilated Cardio Myopathy (DCM) and Grain Free dog foods.

Tuffy’s continues to research this matter and has gained a better understanding of the potential concerns raised by the FDA.  Today, to our knowledge, there simply is not a volume of research that allows for any statistically significant correlations or conclusions regarding any potential link between DCM in non-predisposed dog breeds and ingredients like peas, lentils, other legumes or potatoes.  The small amount of available data shows a lack of consistency at this time and more study is required to understand this issue.  Tuffy’s is aware that certain breeds, many large breed in nature may have a pre-disposition to DCM and that taurine levels in the food may play a role in helping these breeds avoid DCM.  Because of that understanding Tuffy’s already supplements taurine in our large breed diets and in our Adult diet.  

Given the uncertainty of the research surrounding the reported cases of DCM in breeds not genetically pre-disposed to DCM Tuffy’s is immediately supplementing taurine above the naturally occurring levels in all of our NutriSource and Pure Vita diets in the amount referenced by the FDA.  While the end results of studies into this issue are unknown, the responsible action is to err on the side of caution by delivering additional taurine as it will not have any adverse effect on pets to do so until such time as scientific study or regulatory agencies establish guidelines.

Tuffy’s offers diets that deliver healthy, effective solutions for pets.  As an industry leader in pet nutrition Tuffy’s grain and grain free NutriSource and Pure Vita diets all feature our exclusive Good 4 Life supplements and are ideally suited to rotational feeding or smooth introduction to pets.

Tuffy’s invites pet owners with concerns or questions to view a video statement from our family of ownership at www.nutrisourcepetfoods.com/fda-updates or to contact us directly at info@klnfamilybrands.com or toll free at 800-525-9155.

Tuffy’s remains committed in its support of any and all studies that promote the health and well-being of pets.

Podcast – Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous?, with Linda Case, MS – http://bit.ly/Podcast-FDA-Grain-Free-LindaCase-29SEP18

©27JUL18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Pet Nutrition – Grain-Free Foods and FDA Reports of Increased Heart Disease in Dogs

Updated on 23JUL18

On July 12th the US Food and Drug Administration published a report online entitled FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease. You can read the entire report by < clicking here >.

Since the FDA report was released, the mass media has been jumping all over this story causing concern for many pet parents. We believe this is unfortunate as the FDA report is anything but conclusive, nor is it backed by hard evidence.

So what should you do if you want to do the best for your dog?

  • Read the remainder of this article and get the “rest of the story.”
  • Know that there are many dog foods available that do not contain the ingredients that the FDA is concerned about, certain legumes and potatoes.
  • Do not be in a panic to immediately change what you are feeding, however, if you stop by we would be glad to introduce you to other dog food options that do not contain those ingredients.
  • Rotate your dog’s diet through several different protein sources and even brands of foods. Not sure how to do that, ask us. We have been recommending dietary rotation for many years. FMIhttp://bit.ly/DietRotation
  • Never stop reading the ingredient list on your pet’s food nor presume that all pet food companies are equal and are primarily concerned with your pet’s health.
  • Subscribe to our email newsletter, Don’s Words, Woofs and Meows blog, and “Like” and follow the Green Acres Kennel Shop Facebook page. We will be updating this story as we get more information in all three areas.

At Green Acres Kennel Shop we are committed to offering the best products for your pet’s nutritional needs. We do not add a pet food to our offerings without doing a great deal of research on the specific brand of food including the company behind it. No matter how popular a brand is, if we are not convinced that it offers sound nutrition, we will not sell it. If you have followed which brands we have carried over the years you know, we do not hesitate to drop a brand when necessary. We offer a wide variety of dog and cat foods from many brands in many formats; dry food (kibble), wet food (canned), freeze-dried raw, and frozen raw. Many do not include potatoes or peas. We will be watching this situation closely and providing updates through our email newsletter, Don’s Words, Woofs and Meows blog, and on our Facebook page.

The key concern addressed in the FDA report is that veterinarians have observed an increase of dogs presenting with canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). While certain breeds are genetically predisposed to DCM ( Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, Doberman Pinschers, and American and English Cocker Spaniels ), some of the recent cases of DCM have occurred in breeds where DCM is atypical ( Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds ). The FDA report does not indicate the total number of DCM cases reported.

The FDA report than goes on to strongly suggest that the rise in DCM may be due to the increased use of grain-free foods, specifically those containing high levels of certain legumes or potatoes. The report states “…but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM.” Perhaps it is just poor wording, but this statement appears to say that the increase in DCM is directly related to legumes and potatoes, yet there is no evidence that this is the case. While there may be a correlation, there is no evidence of causation, at least yet.

There has been an increase in the percentage of pet parents requesting and feeding grain-free diets in the past several years. There has also been an increase in tick-borne diseases and the use of powerful chemicals to control ticks. I am not suggesting there is a link to DCM and the chemicals we use for ticks; I am just pointing out that there are potentially many other changes in our dog’s lives and environment that may correlate to the increase in DCM. If evidence is discovered, that proves the increase in DCM is caused by the composition of our dog’s food that would also suggest a serious deficiency in the regulations for the testing of pet foods.

The pet food industry is watching this situation closely and does want to understand it and make changes if the ingredients used in grain-free foods are indeed the cause. On July 19th on Petfood Industry.com, Tim Wall shared this quote from Greg Aldrich, PhD, Kansas State University pet food program coordinator, president of consultancy Pet Food and Ingredient Technology Inc.; “We may be jumping to some conclusions and over zealous speculation about what really underlies the challenge with DCM as it relates to what the FDA statement has been. There are probably more questions than there are answers at this stage of the game.”

The FDA was a bit more clear in an interview with Petfood Industry.com where Anne Norris, FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine health communications specialist stated; “The FDA is still investigating individual ingredients under the legume, pulse or potato “umbrella. So, I would suggest not taking intuitive leaps beyond what is explicitly stated in our public notice right now… It is still early in the investigation and right now we’re simply notifying the public, practitioners, and manufacturers that we are observing a signal that warrants further study, The common thread seems to be legumes and/or potatoes as main ingredients in the food. Currently, it’s a correlative link, not a causative one. We’re hoping that after receiving data from pet owners and veterinarians, we will have more data to further inform our investigation.”


Key points in the FDA report.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease.”
  • Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. The underlying cause of DCM is not truly known, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds.”
  • Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other “pulses” (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.” [ Emphasis added ]

Responses from Pet Food Manufacturers

Tuffy’s (manufacturer of NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet )

Tuffy’s Pet Foods is aware of this FDA notification and as a responsible leader in the super-premium pet food industry we are wholly supportive of any study that improves pet health and safety. Tuffy’s has not been notified of any of its products being involved in this FDA notification and is conducting basic research into this matter.

Tuffy’s, maker of NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet pet foods offers a wide variety of solution based, nutrient focused diets that include our proprietary Good 4 Life system which supports gut health, skin and coat, odor control and brain function for optimum health and well-being. The Good 4 Life system is ideal for rotational feeding and allows for smooth transitions to any of our foods. Pet owners can learn more about the solutions we provide by visiting www.nutrisourcepetfoods.com

The FDA continues to recommend that changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinary professional.

Tuffy’s has a toll free number listed at the bottom or an email address, also listed if you would like to discuss this issue with us.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog ( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )

< *Recommended to Read First >

*What do you feed your dog?

*Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – My story with Gus – http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

*Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet? – http://bit.ly/ShouldIFeedMyPetARawDiet

*Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – http://bit.ly/DietRotation

*Video – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – A video of animal nutritionist, Dr. Richard Patton’s presentation, The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition, presented for Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, ME on April 28th, 2016.  – http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

*Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton – http://bit.ly/RuinedByExcess-BookReview

*Book Review – Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health by Kymythy Schultze – http://bit.ly/NatNutritionCats-BookReview

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 –

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costshttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food?  – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2014/10/12/pet-nutrition-how-much-fat-is-in-your-pets-food/

Pet Nutrition – New Zealand dog diet study a wake-up call for dog nutritionhttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/05/19/pet-nutrition-new-zealand-dog-diet-study-a-wake-up-call-for-dog-nutrition/

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Foodhttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/

Shared Blog Post – FDA on a Witch Hunt Against Commercial Pet Food? A Little Spritz of This Makes Pet Food Far Saferhttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/11/28/shared-blog-post-fda-on-a-witch-hunt-against-commercial-pet-food-a-little-spritz-of-this-makes-pet-food-far-safer/

Pet Nutrition – From Dr. Karen Becker – A Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Is Not Healthy For Your Dog or Cathttp://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/09/27/pet-nutrition-from-dr-karen-becker-a-vegetarian-or-vegan-diet-is-not-healthy-for-your-dog-or-cat/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show ( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )

 < *Recommended You Listen to First >

*What do you feed your pets? – http://bit.ly/WhatDoYouFeedYourPets-Podcast

*Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – http://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast

*Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harrington – http://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled



©22-Jul-18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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