Grain-free dog food has increased in popularity over the last few years. It was previously reserved for dogs with certain health issues, but has recently been used more readily with the perception that certain grains are bad for dogs.
So, is grain-free a better diet for dogs? Not necessarily. There may be more harm feeding grain-free diets than benefits. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in America, recently released a warning that there is a potential link between feeding grain-free diets and a life threatening heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. The exact link is still unknown, but investigations are continuing.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that causes enlargement of the heart chambers, thinning of the heart muscle and reduction in ability for the heart to pump blood around the body. Certain breeds are more prone to dilated cardiomyopathy than others. These include Boxers, Dobermans, Great Danes and Cocker Spaniels. However, dogs that have been affected with dilated cardiomyopathy when fed grain-free diets are of various breeds.
The more common food allergy in dogs is to proteins rather than grains. This is why dogs with skin issues are often trialled on limited protein, novel protein or hydrolysed protein diets. The exact requirement needs to be determined by a veterinarian, and may involve trialling different foods until we find the one that works best for your pet.
If you have any questions over suitability of your dog’s diet, or are concerned about your dog’s heart, please contact us at Levin and Horowhenua Veterinary Centre. Our nurses are able to help find a suitable diet for your pet, or we can arrange a consult with one of our vets to check your dog’s heart.