While it’s great that pet owners are putting so much thought into their pet’s diets, there’s concern that grain-free pet food with a main ingredient of peas, lentils, potatoes and legumes may not be the healthiest choice for your dog.

According to a recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report, more dogs eating these particular kinds of foods are being diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). This is significant because these pets are not breeds genetically predisposed to this disease, which can cause congestive heart failure.

Because of aggressive marketing, pet owners may assume that grains are just “fillers”, but the fact is that grains provide necessary vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. As domestic dogs evolved separately from wolves and alongside humans, it is believed that their digestive systems have developed critical mechanisms for absorbing and using grains. The effect of their absence is now the focus of current investigations.

While it’s not yet known exactly how these types of diets are linked to DCM, pet owners should know that there are no scientific studies to showing grain-free diets are healthier, and actual grain allergies are very rare. If a pet has a food allergy, it’s most likely triggered by animal proteins like chicken, beef, fish or dairy. The FDA is currently working with pet food manufacturers to further research these reports about diet and the incidence of DCM.

A good diet is based on nutrient content, and many foods with grains are great options unless your pet does indeed suffer from a diagnosed grain allergy. Your Animal Care Hospital veterinarian is happy to help if you need assistance choosing a food for your pet or have questions about nutrition. Schedule an appointment right online or call us at 480-887-4791.