FDA: Dog heart disease linked to grain-free food

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Reports of heart failure in dogs that eat grain-free pet food is sparking an investigation by the FDA.

The pet food, while not pinpointed to any particular brand, contains peas, lentils, legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients.

Reports are rising of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle that results in an enlarged heart. The FDA is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about the reports.

"As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure," the FDA says.

If caught early, health officials say heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics.

Large breed dogs, such as Great Danes, boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman pinschers, are more frequently affected by DCM. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English cocker spaniels, the FDA says.

The recent cases of DCM have been occurring in dog breeds that are not prone to the disease, which the FDA calls “unusual."

Signs of heart disease can include decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse.

The FDA says they have been in contact with pet food manufacturers to discuss the reports. Changes in your dog’s diet should be made after consulting a licensed veterinarian.

Pet owners are encouraged to report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.

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