GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Feed stores in all pet stores and supermarkets are the big bags of the best, healthiest and latest pet foods. But new figures from a multi-year study of the food and drug administration reveal a possible link between "cereal-free" dog foods and dog-expanded cardiomyopathy or DCM.
"These grain-free diets have been pushed publicly much more," said Dr. gary ryder. "These organic and natural and grain-free – it's the whole pet store."
Dr. Ryder has been a veterinarian for the last 13 years. He says during the previous five that there has been a noticeable increase in heart disease in dogs. And treatments that used to work do not have the same effect.
"The last few years, neither do they answer, or some of them come back as this DCM disease in Yorkies, poodles, chihuahuas and goldens," said Dr. rides what he sees first hand on his Michigan practice. "These dogs, who just never had the disease before, are DCM much more difficult to treat."
DCM can be hard to spot. Its symptoms include lethargy and shortness of breath among others.
However, the animals are already very sick, as the symptoms reveal themselves. It causes an enlargement in both chambers of the heart and can be fatal.
From 2014 to 2017, the FDA recorded only seven deaths between dogs and cats bound to DCM. From January 2018 to April 2019, they have recorded 517.
"The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million dog dogs in the United States. Most dogs in the United States have eaten animal feed without appearing to develop DCM," the report adds. "It is not known how often dogs develop DCM, but the increase in reports to the FDA signals a potential increase in cases of DCM in dogs that are not genetically predisposed."
The study refers to 16 brands that have been tied to DCM study-related deaths, some of the most well-known and best-selling dog food in the country.
"It's more marketing than anything else," Dr said. Ryder. "When you put organic or grain-free on a bag, people automatically think it's better food. Now we see it can actually be more harmful."
Dr. Ryder says that while the FDA study is not completed or offers recommendations to change a pet's diet, the study suggests that cause is correlation.
"If it's a grain-free thing, and that's something we can change dietary recommendations and get rid of a large number of these heart failure cases," Dr. Ryder said about the spike he's seen recently. "That would be the best case."
At present, as the FDA continues their investigation, they work with the pet food industry to find out DCM's confusing tip in recent years.
They add in the report, "If a dog shows possible signs of DCM or other heart disease, including reduced energy, coughing, breathing difficulties and breakdown episodes, contact your veterinarian immediately."
Officials say they will continue their investigation to determine if there is a "specific dietary supplement for the development of DCM" in dogs due to grain-free food.