Misconceptions about Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

While closing out February and American Heart Health Month (for pets too), we are often asked, “does raw feeding lead to Dilated Cardiomyopathy?”

Sara Forsberg · March 02, 2021

Misconceptions about Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

While closing out February and American Heart Health Month (for pets too), we are often asked, “does raw feeding lead to Dilated Cardiomyopathy?”

The fact is, because raw dog food doesn't contain grains doesn't mean that dogs on these diets are at risk for dilated cardiomyopathy.

In July 2018, the food and drug administration (FDA) announced that it had begun investigating reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods labeled as “grain-free,” which contained a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds, and/or potatoes as main ingredients; but here is the kicker.  The FDA report is just a report, it's not a study. There is no way to know how many dogs were possibly impacted by a grain free diet because it’s impossible to know how many vets or dog owners had connected the dots to any heart conditions to the dog's diet until the news of a possible connection became public.

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle that is characterized by an enlarged heart that does not function properly. With DCM, both the upper and lower chambers of the heart become enlarged, with one side being more severely affected than the other. When the ventricle, or lower chamber, becomes enlarged, its ability to pump blood out into the lungs and body deteriorates. When the heart’s ventricle does not pump enough blood into the lungs, fluid begins to accumulate in the lungs. An enlarged heart soon becomes overloaded, and this often leads to congestive heart failure (CHF).

Signs of Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Always tired/sleepy, lethargy, lack of energy *usually the first sign*

  • Coughing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Generalized weakness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pot-bellied appearance (fluid in the abdomen)

The claim that grain free dog food will cause dilated cardiomyopathy or other heart disease has no scientific merit because, again,  the FDA issued a report, not a study. The propaganda of this and other claims with no factual evidence can mislead pet owners and potentially jeopardize their pup’s health. Instead we need to look at the science of pet nutrition and stay  away from trendy marketing that plays on emotions, and helping pet parents to understand the complexities of pet food formulation and animal physiology. As a pet parent it’s our responsibility to look at science, and not marketing to make a decision regarding our beloved companion’s food source.

References:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/c_dg_cardiomyopathy_dilated 

https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy

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Sara Forsberg

Sara Forsberg

Sara has been part of the BARF team since 2019. She is responsible for some admin duties, helping keep the office running smoothly and support for Rob Jr. and the rest of the team. She has been passionate about animals since a small child growing up with a Siberian Husky and 3 cats, and as an adult having a Labrador Retriever that suffered from a lot of allergy problems. She now has a rescue orphaned kitten, Poppy, and a new addition in another Lab named Jax. She has 7 children that keep her busy in most of her spare time; but enjoys anything on or near the water, spending time with friends and family, music, reading and cooking.

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!

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