Beware fancy grain-free dog food!
We’ve been feeding our dog fancy, super-healthy sounding and expensive dog food for years. The food we’ve been buying him have main ingredients such as Cod, Pumpkin and Orange; Whitefish and Potato; Salmon with fruits and vegetables. We want the best for our dog and these boutique foods sounded very healthy. (Note that people often spend more time and effort choosing healthy dog food than the food they feed themselves – IFOD on this here.)
A few weeks ago, a golden retriever belonging to friends of ours got sick, deteriorated rather quickly and died. The dog was diagnosed with heart disease called “dilated cardiomyopathy (“DCM”). Why? Golden’s don’t usually get DCM.
DCM has been becoming more common in dog breeds where it was previously unknown. Recently, it has been discovered that there is a correlation between consumption of fancy dog food and DCM. What sort of “fancy dog food?” According to Tufts Veterinary School, the dog food to be concerned about is “‘BEG’ diets – boutique companies, exotic ingredients, or grain-free diets. The apparent link between BEG diets and DCM may be due to ingredients used to replace grains in grain-free diets, such as lentils or chickpeas, but also may be due to other common ingredients commonly found in BEG diets, such as exotic meats, vegetables, and fruits.”
There is no explanation yet what the link is between BEG foods and DCM. As of right
A few important points:
- Dog’s don’t need grain-free food unless they have allergies that require grain-free. (I wonder if the dog grain-free craze is related to the current low-carb and gluten-free human fad.) Dog are omnivores – absent allergies having some grains is ok.
- It’s likely not the lack of grain that is bad for dogs, but rather the ingredients that are often used in place of grain.
- An issue with these dog foods may be they are produced by small, boutique companies without the research and development budgets to know what to is healthy for dogs.
- Stop reading the ingredients in your dog food. According to Tufts Veterinary School, “manufacturers include ingredients that will appeal to pet owners but probably don’t provide any nutritional benefit to the pet, such as artichokes, kale, and blueberries. More importantly, the ingredient list doesn’t tell us anything about the quality of the ingredients (the quality of the chicken by-product meal one company uses may be much better quality than that of the de-boned chicken another company uses). It also doesn’t tell us whether the ingredients are used in the right amounts to provide optimal nutrition for pets.”
If you’ve been feeding your dog BEG foods what should you do? Advice from experts is (a) don’t freak out, but (b) don’t just do nothing. Talk to your vet. We talked to our vet and she recommended that our dog have a cardiac ultrasound to be safe and to change him to non-BEG dog food. His ultrasound was (mostly) good and he’s now eating Purina Pro Plan.