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Grain Free dog food and DCM Concerns

Posted by Peter Lam on

You may be aware of media reports discussing the potential issues surrounding Grain Free dog food and in particular, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).

As an individual interested in our products and with DCM concerns, we want to ensure that we provide you with as much information as possible to alleviate any concerns and ensure that you are provided with the correct facts, figures and published research.




FDA Investigation 

Since the initial alert issued by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2018 regarding an increase in the number of cases of atypical DCM in dogs in the USA, very little progress has seemingly been made into understanding the cause.

The 'information' released by the FDA (27th June, 2019) merely provided limited details and statistics regarding the dogs and cats that have been affected as well as -
  • the types of diets they have been fed
  • what brands of food have been fed
  • what ingredients they contain
Based on data released by the FDA, diets characterised as Grain Free were fed in 91% of DCM cases reported.

These 16 brands of dog food were named by the FDA in connection with their investigation -
  • Acana
  • Zignature
  • Taste of the Wild
  • 4Health
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Nature's Domain
  • Fromm
  • Merrick
  • California Natural
  • Natural Balance
  • Orijen
  • Nature's Variety
  • NutriSource
  • Nutro
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish
*The brands have been ordered according to the number of cases linked to them.

Many of these brands are produced by some of the biggest pet food companies in the U.S., which include -
  • Mars Petcare/Royal Canin
  • Nestle Purina Petcare
  • Hill's Pet Nutrition
  • Smucker
  • General Mills/Blue Buffalo

Unfortunately, data such as this has generated some attention grabbing headlines and stories in various news and social media outlets.

However, the fact is that the FDA have NOT found any specific causative link between any particular brand or type of diet (e.g. Grain Free) or ingredient (e.g. peas, lentils, sweet potatoes) and DCM.




Facts & Figures

Given that an estimated 22 million dogs in the USA are fed Grain Free food; and Grain Free foods have been available for over 10 years with no problems reported, the number of dogs affected in the last year (560) is a tiny fraction (0.002%) and suggests that there is not a general problem with Grain Free diets themselves.

Furthermore, there is no similar issue in the UK or Europe, where Grain Free diets are also widely consumed by dogs and cats.




Causes Unknown

The cause(s) for the increase in cases of atypical DCM remains unknown.

The FDA is continuing it's investigation, working with scientists and nutritionists in the Veterinary Laboratory and Investigation Response Network (Vet-LIRN) and also with veterinary cardiologists.

In the meantime, it is important to remember that no causative link between Grain Free diets and DCM has been made and analysis of Grain Free foods reported in DCM cases for levels of minerals, amino acids and other nutrients as well as contaminants such as metals, have not found anything unusual, compared to grain based foods.

 

 


Possible Causes 

There could be several nutritional factors in play in the cases of DCM currently under investigation and protein deficiency is likely a big contributor.

Protein deficiency in pet food can be caused by - 

  • Excessive levels of carbohydrates and/or excessive fat in meats
  • Processing methods
  • Poor quality raw ingredients
  • Synthetic add-ins

Our preparation process for our grain free range outlined for your peace of mind -

  • Our carbohydrate levels in our grain free foods are enough to be a sufficient energy source and we only use high quality lean meats without excessive unhealthy fats
  • Our unique cooking method is a first in dry pet food manufacturing which allows for increased bio-availability of nutrients, meaning less nutrients from ingredients are being destroyed in the cooking process, unlike the typical brand, to ensure your pets are getting the most from their delicious meals. The technology also allows more fresh ingredients to be used than any other system in the world. 
  • All ingredients are subjected to a number of quality checks to ensure only the best ingredients are accepted for use in our products. Ingredients are responsibly sourced and fully traceable from trusted farms, then cold chain transported to ensure maximum freshness ready for production, then other fresh ingredients are added from a vast selection, cooked at a gentle temperature to keep in the freshness while protecting those all important proteins and nutrients.
  • We use natural ingredients so no synthetic add-ins are used which will affect the quality of the proteins




Our Superior Quality Grain Free diets

Our Grain Free ranges contain between 50-75% total animal ingredients/proteins and is, of course, formulated to be nutritionally complete and balanced for the relevant species and life stage in accordance with FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines for Complete and Complimentary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs.

They also undergo analytical testing prior to release to ensure they are compliant with FEDIAF requirements.

As such, they therefore provide all the nutrients needed for every day good health and wellbeing in normal, healthy dogs and cats.

You can view our Gourmet Grain Free ranges below -





Importance of Taurine

Low blood levels of Taurine are linked with DCM in some dogs.

Animal protein is a rich source of Taurine and the amino acids Methionine and Cysteine (which dogs can convert into Taurine). 

Our Grain Free range contains high levels of both freshly prepared and dried animal protein sources to provide these important nutrients to help alleviate fears.




Future Developments

We will continue to have this issue and the research being conducted, monitored and will provide an update of any future developments.




Further Questions

If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at - info@harrierpropetfoods.co.uk so we can forward your questions to our Technical Services Department.





Still Concerned?

If the issue still causes you concern and you prefer to move away from Grain Free diets, you could always try our Natural & Hypoallergenic range or Hypoallergenic Premium range, which are both still fantastic for food allergies and intolerances, providing your pets do not have an issue with grains of course.

You can view our Natural & Hypoallergenic ranges for dogs and cats below -

Our Hypoallergenic Premium ranges for dogs and cats can be found below -


We hope you have found this helpful and that it has answered many of the questions you may have wondered about.


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