Shared Articles – More on the FDA, DCM and Pet Food

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< Updated – 17JUL19 >

< COMING SOON! – A podcast on this topic from The Woof Meow Show of 20JUL19 >

I am occasionally asked, by people that do not know me or the backstory on why I am so passionate about pet nutrition, “You sell pet food, why should we believe or trust anything you say on the topic?” I would be the first to tell them that they are right to question what I tell them. If you want to understand my motives, I encourage to read about my philosophy towards pet nutrition at < FMI – GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition – >.

My inbox recently received four new posts discussing the FDA’s recent press release (June 27th, 2019) on their investigation into increased cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Each post provides some valuable additional information not revealed by the FDA. Two of the posts come from well respected, independent authorities on pet nutrition. I have included links to both articles. The other two come from pet food industry publications.

Hemopet Responds to the FDA Implicating 16 Brands of Dog Food That May Cause Heart Disease in Dogs

This article by veterinarian, Dr. Jean Dodds, is dated July 7th and can be found at the Hemopet website at

In the first paragraph, Dr. Dodd’s states: “On June 27, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) named 16 brands of dog food that may cause heart disease in dogs. The specific heart condition is called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This release has caused national and international concern bordering upon hysteria, without any admitted good reason for listing these food brands. In our opinion, the listing of specific brands was premature and unwarranted.” [Emphasis Added]

Dr. Dodds then goes on to discuss the nutritional science behind this investigation and what we know so far, including some research on this subject that Dr. Dodds believe was flawed. She again criticizes the FDA for causing a public panic “…by not presenting definitive conclusions but implying risk by inference in listed certain pet food brands.” I concur with her statement.

An interesting note in Dr. Dodds article reports that the researchers who initially reported DCM concerns not only focused on grain-free foods but novel protein sources (animal protein other than chicken) used in pet foods, yet “…chicken was the most common protein identified by the FDA – 113 times.” in the DCM cases reported, and not novel protein sources.

She also notes that the FDA investigation has been biased towards Golden Retrievers and that the FDA created an additional bias towards grain-free diets in their press release of July 12, 2018.

Dr. Dodds recommends the FDA review previous studies that have addressed specific diets and a potential connection to DCM. That seems logical, and one must question why it has not been done or has been ignored.

Dr. Dodds than reminds us that many people stopped feeding their dogs feeding grain “…to prevent leaky gut syndrome, to help curb food sensitivities or intolerances to a particular grain, to maintain optimal weight in your dog, etc.” The grains used in pet food do cause problems for some pets. I encourage you to read Dr. Dodds article.

Update on grain-free diets and DCM cases in dog

This article by Nancy Kerns was published on the blog of The Whole Dog Journal on July 9th at –

Kerns and The Whole Dog Journal have been offering an independent review of dog food since their inception and are a source I value when researching pet food. Kerns is also concerned about how DCM and how is it being reported is causing misconceptions about what we know and don’t know. She is also not comfortable with how the FDA is handling this situation, stating: “It’s a bit puzzling, then, why the agency named the brands of foods that were reportedly fed to some of the 560 dogs whose DCM cases they are investigating (and even more puzzling: why they didn’t include the varieties of foods that were implicated, just the company names). Naming the companies suggests that those companies were responsible for the dogs’ illnesses, even as the agency denied this as an explicit causation. We’re not usually conspiracy theorists, but this move undoubtedly gave a boost to these companies’ competitors.” She later goes on to note that some of the companies unfairly implicated also manufacture foods that do not contain any of the ingredients potentially linked to DCM, stating “In the case of these companies, naming only the brand and not the varieties implicated in the reports was a disservice to the companies and consumers alike.”

I share Kern’s concern. I think it is also important to note that so far all of the foods tested have been within specifications. The suggestion that any company did something on purpose to cause DCM is laughable. It does, however, and in my opinion, that the pet food industry needs far tighter regulation that is independent of the pet food companies, which is not the case today.

Kerns concludes with her recommendations, which are very similar to our as noted in my last post. [ FMI – ]

I encourage you to read Kerns article as it provides an additional perspective to this complex issue.

Articles in Industry Trade Journals

In an article on dated July 8th they state: “No causation found between dog food ingredients and DCM – While the FDA has found correlations between certain grain-free dog foods and DCM, they have found no causality. Thousands of dogs have eaten the same diets as the dogs stricken with DCM without becoming ill. FDA lab analysis of grain-free versus conventional dog foods revealed little difference in levels of minerals, amino acids, taurine, protein or other nutrients.” [ Emphasis added ]

Jen Goetz wrote an article for Pet Business entitled Why The FDA’s Latest Statement On Grain-Free Foods Is Dangerous, stating: “Publishing the names of 16 pet food brands that have been anecdotally connected with cases of DCM, without significant weight behind those claims, is misleading to the general public and could undermine a general understanding of the disease itself.” [ Emphasis added ]

Many of the stories in the mass media have used headlines for this story that also implies the companies named have done something wrong when there is nothing to substantiate those claims. The increases in DCM in dogs is a complex issue, but because complicated does not fit into a 2-minute or less sound bite, the general public is not getting the whole story.

Anyone that knows me is very aware that I am not a defender of the pet food industry but often criticize the pet companies as a whole for lack of consumer transparency. However, in this case, I agree with all of those that have stated that naming individual companies was premature and inappropriate.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( )

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition

Pet Foods We Offer At Green Acres Kennel Shop

FDA Update on Heart Disease in Dogs & What Should You Do? –

Shared Blog Post – FDA Updates on Heart Disease in Dogs – Hemopet – Dr. Jean Dodds

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

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

Grain-Free Foods and FDA Reports of Increased Heart Disease in Dogs –

Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( )

Podcast – Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous?, with Linda Case, MS

Web Sites

FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Tuffy’s Pet Foods (NutriSource/PureVita/Natural Planet) – A Message Regarding DCM Concerns’s%20DCM%20Statement%20(7-1-19).pdf

Fromm Response to Updated FDA DCM Complaint Reporting

Zignature Statement in Response to FDA Findings

Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog:  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©17-Jul-19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Shared Article – Why We Don’t Recommend Electric Fences from The Whole Dog Journal

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of The Whole Dog Journal and is regularly re-released because its message is so important. It discusses underground fence systems that use an electric shock to your dog’s neck to hopefully keep them in the yard without the common side effects of aggression and anxiety. Learn why you never want to use one of these systems.  < Click to Read >

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog

( )


The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? – WWM-OCT2017 –

Shock-Free Maine Coalition Ad in November 2017 Downeast Dog News


Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show

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Podcast – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars

Podcast – The Woof Meow Show: The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudge

Web Sites & Facebook Pages

The Shock-Free Coalition

The Shock-Free Coalition on Facebook –

The Shock-Free Coalition/Maine Chapter

The Shock-Free Coalition/Maine Chapter on Facebook

Articles on the Shock-Free Coalition Website

What Is Shock Training? Is It Really Just A Tap? Shock Collar Training Explained by Eileen Anderson of eileenanddogs

Electronic Fences – What You need to Knowby Eileen Anderson of eileenanddogs

Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful – A New Study Reveals Some Answers by Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

Myths and Misconceptions

Trade in Your Shock Collar – The Pet Professional Guild and Project Trade

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Position on Shock Training

What the Experts Say About Shock

Why Professionals Should Not Use Shock

Why Pet Owners Should Not Use Shock

Podcast – Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous?, with Linda Case, MS

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< Click to Listen to Podcast >

Grain-Free dog food has been all over the news since July 12th and sadly the information the mass media has reported been oversimplified and incomplete. The fact is this is a complex issue.

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from September 29, 2018, Don speaks with canine nutritionist, science writer, and the author of Dog Food Logic Linda Case about this very issue, asking, Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous? Other issues addressed in the show are:

  • Should dog parents currently feeding their dogs a grain-free diet immediately switch to a non-grain-free dog food?
  • What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy and what is the role of Taurine in the disease and grain-free foods?
  • Does the FDA know with 100% certainty that grain-free food is the cause or could it be something else?
  • There has been some suggestion in posts on Facebook and other places online that one should only purchase dog food that has been tested via AAFCO feeding trials. Is that sound advice?
  • Is it important for dog parents to review the ingredients label when making decisions about what to feed their dog?

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on Z62 Retro Radio, AM620, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show. You can download this show and others at and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

#WoofMeowShow #PetNutrition #DogFood #Grain-Free #LindaCase

Contact Info

Linda P. Case, MS
AutumnGold Consulting and Dog Training Center
Mahomet, IL

(217) 586-4864

Recommended Resources

FDA Reports

FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease – 12JUL2018

Questions & Answers: FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Investigation into a Possible Connection Between Diet and Canine Heart Disease

How to Report a Pet Food Complaint

Whole Dog Journal Articles

DCM in Dogs: Taurine’s Role in the Canine Diet – What is taurine-deficiency dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), and how can dog owners prevent it? (Hint: It involves more than just grain-free foods.) – The Whole Dog Journal – September 2018 –

Please Don’t Panic About the “Grain-Free Thing” – Whole Dog Journal’s Blog – 2AUG18 –

Articles on Don’s Blog ( )


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

Grain-Free Foods and FDA Reports of Increased Heart Disease in Dogs –

What Do You Feed Your Dog?

Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus – Maine Dog Magazine – Winter 2017 –

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton


Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( )

What do you feed your pets?

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harrington


©29SEP18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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What You Need to Know About Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer”

What You Need to Know About Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer”

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A compilation of comments on Cesar Millan appearing in the media published on the Green Acres Kennel Shop website in January of 2007

C’mon, Pooch, Get With the Program

Dr. Dodman [veterinary behaviorist and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University] said: ”My college [American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)] thinks it [The Dog Whisperer – Cesar Millan] is a travesty. We’ve written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog training back 20 years.”

The New York Times – C’mon, Pooch, Get With the Program, By Anna Bahney February 23, 2006

A ‘tough love’ dog whisperer spurs some yelps

To call his operation a psychology center is a total paradox,” says veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and author of “Dogs Behaving Badly” (Bantam, $14). “I think, like a bullfighter, he understands how to approach and work around a dog, but thereafter he stops. He doesn’t understand separation anxiety. I doubt he knows what obsessive-compulsive behavior is. Basically, with a smile, he’s going to war with these dogs.”

Dodman says Millan relies on two musty tools popularized a half-century ago by heavy-handed military dog trainers and considered out of vogue amid the current emphasis on reward-based training. One is “positive punishment,” where an aversive action – “poking and jabbing and pulling and prodding” – is applied to get the dog to stop a behavior. The other is “flooding,” in which the dog is “basically drowning” in something it doesn’t like, sort of “Fear Factor” for Fido.

Imagine,” says Dodman, “if there was a new Dr. Phil for children, and he said, ‘If your kid is playing too many video games, get a big paddle and whack him on the head.’ People would be incensed.” – A ‘tough love’ dog whisperer spurs some yelps, Cesar Millan has plenty of believers, including celebs, but veterinarians snarl over tactics, By Denise Flaim, May 17, 2006

Jean Donaldson on “The Dog Whisperer”

Practices such as physically confronting aggressive dogs and using of choke collars for fearful dogs are outrageous by even the most diluted dog training standards. A profession that has been making steady gains in its professionalism, technical sophistication and humane standards has been greatly set back. I have long been deeply troubled by the popularity of Mr. Millan as so many will emulate him. To co-opt a word like ‘whispering’ for arcane, violent and technically unsound practice is unconscionable.”

—Jean Donaldson, Director, SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, San Francisco.

‘Dog Whisperer’ Training Approach More Harmful Than Helpful

The training tactics featured on Cesar Millan’s “The Dog Whisperer” program are inhumane, outdated and improper” according to a letter sent yesterday to the National Geographic Channel by American Humane the oldest national organization protecting children and animals.

Several instances of cruel and dangerous treatment – promoted by Millan as acceptable training methods – were documented by American Humane, including one in which a dog was partially asphyxiated in an episode. “In this instance, the fractious dog was pinned to the ground by its neck after first being “hung” by a collar incrementally tightened by Millan. Millan’s goal – of subduing a fractious animal – was accomplished by partially cutting off the blood supply to its brain.”

As a forerunner in the movement towards humane dog training, we find the excessively rough handling of animals on the show and inhumane training methods to be potentially harmful for the animals and the people on the show,” said the letter’s author, Bill Torgerson, DVM, MBA, who is vice president of Animal Protection Services for American Humane. “It also does a disservice to all the show’s viewers by espousing an inaccurate message about what constitutes effective training and appropriate treatment of animals.”

– – ‘Dog Whisperer’ Training Approach More Harmful Than Helpful – September 6, 2006

Steve Dale on “The Dog Whisperer”

I have serious concerns because his [Millan’s] methods are often intimidating rather than motivating. On TV, the dogs often comply but often they’re being forced to – you can tell by their body language: tail down, mouth closed, ears back, eyes dilated.”

For me, Millan makes too many dog-to-wolf parallels, particularly that we have to dominate a dog like an alpha wolf. Although there are many similarities, dogs are simply not wolves any more than we are chimpanzees.”

Millan has himself told me his training methods aren’t replicable. The cable channel that airs his show, the National Geographic channel, apparently agrees (or its lawyers tell it to) with pop-up warnings ‘not to try this at home.‘”

“I argue that motivating leadership is far more effective than leading through intimidation.”

– Pet World, By Steve Dale December 7, 2006

Don’t Whisper – We Favor behavioral science over showmanship

I Don’t like Millan’s techniques. Many are antiquated and dangerous, for dogs and owners, in my view and that of many of behavior experts I respect (such as Drs. Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, and Nicholas Dodman, as well as our own training expert, Pat Miller).”

Modern behavioral scientists understand that there is lots more to canine interaction than constant displays of dominance and submission, and that humans are probably at their lest effective as trainers when they try to ‘act like a dominant dog.'”

Millan’s ideal is a dog who exhibits ‘calm submission’ to its owner. In contrast, most pet dog owners I know, myself included, want an affectionate, trusting, respectful coexistence with our dogs, not wary subservience… The most effective way to accomplish this, with the least fallout or dangerous side effects, is with the dog-friendly behavior modification techniques we regularly detail in WDJ.”

– The Whole Dog Journal, By Nancy Kerns, December 2006

No. 039 Misguided Expert of the Year – The Dog Whisperer Should Just Shut Up

My position is, Millan is a poseur,” Claudia Kawczynska, editor in chief of The Bark magazine, says of the ex-dog groomer. “He is a hairdresser, not the real guy in terms of being an expert. He doesn’t have credentials. And it is shocking to me how easily people are ready to fall for it… He is doing a disservice to the real experts in the filed…He gives quick fixes, but they are not going to be a solution for most families with problem dogs.”

– Esquire – No. 039 Misguided Expert of the Year – The Dog Whisperer Should Just Shut Up, by Curtis Pesmen, October 2006

©JAN2007, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved