Dog owners, beware: the types and brands of dog food you give your pet could be the reason they are developing heart disease.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an update Thursday on its ongoing investigation into the potential link between certain pet foods and a heart disease called canine dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM.
DCM effects the dog’s heart and results in an enlarged muscle causing the dog to tire easily, cough, and have a hard time breathing.
The administration said in a third press release Thursday:
For the first time, the agency is also posting the pet food brands most frequently identified in these adverse event reports. It’s important to note that the FDA doesn’t yet know how certain diets may be associated with DCM in some dogs. However, the FDA is first and foremost a public health agency, and takes seriously its responsibility to protect human and animal health. In the case of DCM, the agency has an obligation to be transparent with the pet-owning public regarding the frequency with which certain brands have been reported.
Steven M. Solomon, Director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said the investigation into the issue is ongoing and encouraged owners to work closely with their veterinarians when choosing food for their pets. Solomon said:
We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods.
The report lists the food brands, food types and dog breeds most frequently cited in the 524 DCM reports the agency has received since 2014.
There have been 500 reported cases of DCM with most involving large breed dogs like golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers.
Reports state there have been 500 reported cases of DCM that it is mostly large breed dogs such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and mixed breed dogs being affected. However, there have been some documented cases involving smaller breeds.
Here are the dog food brands with most cases linked to DCM:
· Acana (67 cases)
· Zignatue (64)
· Taste of the Wild (53)
· 4Health (32)
· Earthborn Holistic (32)
· Blue Buffalo (31)
· Nature’s Domain (29)
· Fromm (24)
· Merrick (16)
· California Natural (15)
· Natural Balance (15)
· Orijen (12)
· Nature’s Variety (11)
· NutriSource (10)
· Nutro (10)
· Rachael Ray Nutrish (10)
Natural Balance and Rachael Ray Nutrish, owned by the J.M. Smucker Company, are two of the brands named by the FDA, released a statement saying that they will continue to work with the ongoing investigation. Natural Balance was connected to 15 of the reports that the FDA reviewed and Rachael Ray Nutrish had 10 reports, according to the FDA.
“As pet parents ourselves, we will continue to monitor this very closely, as we want to make sure all dogs are happy and healthy. Since a conclusive root cause has not been identified to date, we will continue to actively collaborate with the FDA and industry partners to better understand and resolve this increase in heart disease occurrences among dogs,” Ray Hancard, a spokesperson for Smucker, said in a statement to ABC News.
Earthborn Holistic, owned by Midwestern Pet Foods, is another brand named by the FDA and allegedly cited in 32 reports, said that they have “reviewed” the FDA’s report.
“This report does not provide any scientific findings linking nutrition and DCM. Rather, FDA is simply attempting to gain more information as part of its evaluation process,” Midwestern Pet Foods said in their statement.
“We take the nutrition and health of pets very seriously. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that our products are safe and nutritious,” they said in their statement.
Champion Petfoods owns two of the dog food brands that were included in the FDA’s report, Acana and Orijen. They released a statement noting that the FDA’s update “provides no causative scientific link between DCM and our products, ingredients or grain-free diets as a whole.”
“Our hearts go out to every pet and Pet Lover who have been impacted by DCM. We take this very seriously and will continue to work internally and with other industry leaders on research into the cause of DCM in order to help Pet Lovers understand the facts. Our own research, and the millions of pets who have thrived by eating our food over 25 years, have shown that Champion pet foods are safe,” Champion Petfoods said in their statement.
Zignature was another named brand included in the report.
“While our 900,000 customers thrive with our high quality formula, 0.0000007% have reported dietary issues, and we take the FDA’s recent announcement very seriously and are working in collaboration to learn more,” said Eric Schiffer, a spokesperson from Zignature’s public relations firm.
The cases relevant to the investigation stem from “sporadic” reports of DCM that the FDA received between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 30, 2019.
All told, there were 515 reports of DCM in dogs and nine reports of it occurring in cats. In some cases, a report included more than one pet at a particular household, so the FDA notes that there were more than 524 animals effected, though it did not include the total number.