Grain Free Diets Good or Bad?

For several years now grain free diets have been growing in popularity. At Pet Camp, while we are agnostic on the grain free diet issue, we’ve seen an increase in the number of pet parents bringing in grain free diets for their dogs. While the dog food we feed at Pet Camp is made by Diamond (the same company that makes Taste of the Wild and a host of other name brands) and is all natural, it is not grain free.

Just last week the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued a notice about seeing an increase of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating pet food containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as a main ingredient. These items are added to dog food to replace the grain in grain free diets. DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscles and results in an enlarged heart, making it harder for the heart to pump, potentially leaking heart values which can lead to a build up of fluids in the chest or abdomen. While some dog breeds are more affected by DCM (primarily giant breeds), FDA has seen an increase in reports in smaller breeds not normally associated with DCM that have been eating grain free diets.

It is not known at this time if the increase of DCM is linked to the increased use of grain free dog food (and even if it is so linked, how long a dog would need to be eating grain free food before a problem develops) but the dogs who developed DCM did have low levels of the amino acid taurine (well documented as potentially leading to DCM) and the FDA is working with manufacturers to see about a possible link between grain free diets and DCM. The FDA is encouraging pet parents and veterinarians to report cases of DCM suspects of being linked to a change in diet at the FDA’s Safety reporting Portal.

You can read the complete FDA notification here.
Everyone at Pet Camp encourages you to speak with your veterinarian or other expert on pros and cons of various dog food options before making a decision about what to feed your dog.