Q & A on Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Certain Pet Diets

On July 12, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a brief stating they are investigating recent reports of canine heart disease (known as dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM) in dogs fed certain diets. Members of the Pet Food Institute (PFI) are committed to the production of safe pet food and are working closely with FDA and internal experts to advance the understanding of this potential issue. Below, we provide answers to some questions that pet lovers may have about DCM and their dog’s diet.

What is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

FDA notes that DCM in dogs is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart, and some dog breeds are genetically prone to this disease. Symptoms of DCM include a decreased appetite, lethargy and coughing. If you have questions about DCM or your pet’s health, consult with a trusted veterinarian.

What role does diet play in DCM? Is grain-free pet food safe for my pet?

The exact cause of recent reported incidents of DCM has not yet been identified and FDA is investigating the possible role of specific ingredients that may be found in certain dog food recipes. Grain-free dog foods as a whole are not under consideration by FDA. If you have a question about your dog’s food, we recommend that you contact the manufacturer to learn more.

What are PFI members doing about this potential issue?

PFI members take seriously their commitment to providing safe pet food that contains complete and balanced nutrition. Our members support the exchange of information with FDA and member company scientists, veterinarians and nutritionists are working closely with the agency to further advance the understanding of this issue.

What should I be feeding my dog now? Should I change what I am feeding my dog?

The first step you can take is to make sure your dog is receiving a complete and balanced diet that is formulated for his or her life stage. Our interactive infographic series “Nutrition from Nose to Tail” provides fast facts on why a complete and balanced dog food recipe is critical in supporting your pet’s health.

When we asked veterinarian Dr. Maryanne Murphy what to consider when choosing a pet food, she recommended checking the package to ensure the food is complete and balanced. “When you’re looking at pet foods that are available, there’s a whole host of options out there,” said Dr. Murphy. “What you need to look for is what’s going to be best for you and your pet. Things that you can look into are flavor preferences, location where you want to purchase the food, [and] cost of the food.” If you have questions about a specific product, we recommend that you call the manufacturer to learn more and select a recipe that your dog enjoys and you feel good providing.

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