Grain Free Dog Food…DON’T PANIC!


A recent topic of heightened concern among dog owners has centered on the overall issue of dogs developing a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is a disease that causes an enlargement of the heart, and decreasing blood circulation in pets. Latest articles on this topic have seemed to infer that a common cause could be linked to dogs fed a grain free diet, rich in legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc.) and high in dietary fiber. As an established and trusted dog and cat business, we have been equally concerned about this topic not only as business owners, but as devoted pet parents ourselves.

This issue has created a perceived increase in clinically diagnosed dogs with DCM. Looking toward a possible cause, there seems to be some commonality of diet involved with this disease. It has been stated that a broader base of dog breeds, including some not thought as being genetically predisposed to DCM, are showing signs of heart disease. As an underlying cause, some veterinary nutritionists are theorizing that high levels of dietary potatoes and legumes might be a possible reason. We will try to explain this proposed idea in simple terms. We do want to stress that at the current time there is no proven link to legume-based diets as a DCM cause…it is merely a proposed theory.

Looking into this deeper, taurine, an amino acid known to be essential for heart health is at the center of this controversy. It is possible that legumes and potatoes could be binding to proteins (including taurine) in the gut, rendering them unavailable nutritionally. Heat processing could also be contributing to a problem, as this could destroy two key amino acids, cystine and methionine, that are precursors to the formation of taurine by dogs. Cats, it should be noted, are not able to naturally synthesize taurine as dogs can, so it must be added to their diet.

As a pet owner, it is important not to panic about this concern. Our local business is here to help you through this and address your questions directly. We have already had serious discussions with many pet food industry experts to tailor our appropriate response. It would appear that even complete and balanced dog foods that include all essential vitamins and minerals may still place dogs at risk for this disease. If you have concerns about your pet food, we suggest that you look for taurine supplementation sources to counteract this possible deficiency. Raw fermented goat’s milk, shellfish and eggs are some reliable food items that either we offer or are commonly available that are rich in taurine. Our caring and knowledgeable staff here at PVPE can also recommend a dog food diet that adds supplementary taurine as a precautionary step. We invite you to visit us at the store to discuss this further.

It appears that much more needs to be known about this disease and possible dietary causes. Nutrition is a highly complex science, and there is always so much more to discover about this process. At PVPE, we will continue to stay informed about this and other issues that affect the health and well-being of our pet families. We stay committed to offering the very finest and safest pet foods in our industry.

Gordon & Sue Kriebel

Perk Valley Pet Eatery