FDA Says It's Still Investigating Possible Link Between Some Dog Foods and Canine Heart Disease

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The Food and Drug Administration said this week that it is continuing to investigate a troubling link between some pet food types and potentially fatal heart disease in dogs. As the investigation into any connection is ongoing, no pets foods have yet been recalled.

The FDA on Thursday provided additional insight into the possible link between the diets and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)—typically seen in large breeds like Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes, as well as Cocker Spaniels—which the agency said is being reported in dog breeds “not previously known to have a genetic predisposition to the disease.”

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As of April 30, the FDA said it received 524 reports of DCM in both cats and dogs since the start of 2014, with 515 of those occurring in dogs. Of those, the FDA said that since Dec. 1, it has received reports of 219 cases in dogs and 3 cases in cats.

Cases reportedly overwhelmingly cited dry food formulations in pets’ diets, though the agency said that in some cases, other food types such as raw or wet were reported as well. The FDA said that reports were largely linked to grain-free formulations or those containing peas, lentils, or both, and in some cases potatoes. The protein sources reportedly included everything from commonly used chicken, lamb, and fish types, to venison, bison, and duck.

Thursday’s update revealed that the FDA is looking at a significant number of dog food brands across various pet food distributors. However, of the 16 most cited pet food firms linked to 10 or more reports, the leading six included Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, and Blue Buffalo.

The Food and Drug Administration
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The FDA said that while it shared case information with distributors linked the reports, it has “not yet determined the nature of the possible connection between these foods and canine DCM” and therefore has not yet recalled any of the pet food. And while the FDA is not advising owners switch their dogs’ diets based on the report, it did recommend owners speak with their veterinarians about their dietary needs.

“Our ongoing work in this area is a top priority for the FDA, and as our investigation unfolds and we learn more about this issue, we will make additional updates to the public,” Steven M. Solomon, D.V.M., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “In the meantime, because we have not yet determined the nature of this potential link, we continue to encourage consumers to work closely with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to select the best diet for their pets’ needs.”

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The FDA further advised owners who observed possible signs of a heart condition in their pets to immediately seek veterinary care. The agency said symptoms can include weakness, cough, or collapse.

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