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Are Grain-free Diets Bad for My Pet?

In 2018, several dog owners reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they suspected certain foods were tied to a heart condition in their dogs. In particular, they were concerned about pet food containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients, which are common in grain-free diets.

The dogs were diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM); however, food containing grains and home-cooked diets were also represented in the reports.

The FDA alerted pet owners and veterinarians of these reports. It is working with laboratories, veterinarians, animal nutritionists and other scientists as well as pet food manufacturers to better understand the cases and potential ties to diet. The FDA has also asked dog owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of DCM in dogs that are suspected of having a link to the dog’s diet.

What’s DCM?

In DCM, a dog’s heart and its chambers narrow. The heart then has a harder time pumping blood, and the heart valves may leak. These symptoms can lead to a buildup of fluids in the dog’s chest and abdomen.

Signs of DCM include decreased energy, coughing, difficulty breathing or episodes of collapse. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, please contact us at (925) 240-7387.

How Can I Find Out More About My Dog’s Food?

Check the ingredient list on the bag or can to see whether legumes and/or potatoes are listed as main ingredients (they typically show up before the first vitamin or mineral ingredient).

The FDA is not currently advising dietary changes, but you can discuss your dog’s diet with us at your next appointment. We’ll take into account your dog’s specific needs and medical history.

See graphs below:

What Do Heartworms Look Like?

Have you heard that heartworms are not real or that they do not cause significant disease?  This is false! Dr. Bonds and Dr. Williams have treated numerous patients where the hearts have failed due to the burden of these worms. In advanced heartworm disease, the right side of the heart cannot pump blood to the lungs and pressure builds up causing fluid to leak into the abdomen. The pulmonary vessels are also affected causing lung disease. This is a typical picture of extreme heartworm disease!

It only takes one bite from a mosquito to infect your pet with heartworms. Sadly, many animals don’t show symptoms until the disease is advanced, if at all. While there is treatment, it can be hard on your dog, and it’s very expensive.

Mosquitos and other parasites are becoming more frequent all year round, which means animal owners who stop giving parasite prevention medication after the summer ends—or don’t give it at all—run the risk of their pets contracting potentially deadly diseases. We can help you choose the best parasite preventative for your pet!