No Correlation Between Grain Free and DCM Found in Large Scale Study

Large Scale Study Finds No Connection Between DCM and Grain Free Diets Corporate Shenanigans To Blame

Corporate Shenanigans Linked To Reporting Bias of DCM In Dogs

Reports over the last few years had suggested a correlation between dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and eating grain-free and/or legume-rich diets, but very little data was available to support these claims. A study published in March 2022, provides solid data from 68,297 canine patients over 20 years showing no significant correlation between DCM and grain free diets.  Additionally, a tangled web of industry funding and interests may have influenced the origin, data collection, and course of the FDA study, according to internal FDA records as reported by the Associated Press.

Study finds no significant correlation between DCM and grain free pet foods

Until 2017, the FDA received about one to three reports of DCM annually. Then, between January 1 and July 10, 2018, it received 25 cases. Seven of those reports came from a single source: an animal nutritionist who had received funding from leading sellers of grain-inclusive foods, including Nestle Purina Petcare, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and Mars Petcare, since 2002.

FDA records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, indicate that those seven reports may not have been fully representative of the cases seen at her clinic.  Additionally, in a June 2018 email to an FDA veterinary medical officer, this animal nutritionist attached a document instructing veterinarians to report cases to the FDA, “If patient is eating any diet besides those made by well-known, reputable companies or if eating a boutique, exotic ingredient, or grain-free ("BEG") diet.” [emphasis added].

Recent Large Scale Study Reveals Good News for Dogs and Parents

Fourteen US referral hospitals, out of 88 that were contacted to participate in this large scale study, provided all cardiology canine cases for as many years as were available (1–20 years, average 8.1 years). Incidence rates of DCM in dogs were based on 68,297 cardiology patients seen at these referral hospital and not the entire dog population. Diagnosis of DCM in all cases was made by echocardiographic evaluation.  This study comprises the most complete dataset to date, describing the incidence of DCM diagnosed by veterinary cardiologists over time.

While a five-fold increase in grain-free pet food sales was demonstrated from 2011 to 2019, the data revealed in this study a static overall trend in DCM incidence over time.  

The findings of this study bring great news to pet parents and dogs.  There are many reasons to limit grains in pet food.  Agricultural chemicals like glyphosate (Roundup) found largely on corn, soy, wheat and rice is associated with chronic disease.  And heat-induced toxicants that come from baking or frying grains like corn and wheat contribute to obesity, diabetes, and age-related disease.

There's enough starch in the universe.  Let's eat more kale.   

Replacing As Little As 10% of A Kibble or Canned Pet Food Diet With Fresh Whole Foods Has A Positive Impact On A Dog's Body