Tabby & Jack’s Response to:
FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy


At Tabby & Jack’s, our primary concern is for the well being of our pets.  We have recently been alerted of an FDA investigation to determine if there is a link between certain food ingredients and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). We have read the FDA statement carefully and have summarized key findings.

Tabby & Jack’s has also made recommendations for pet owners who understandably may want to modify or change their pets’ diet. While we find this study to be of concern, Tabby & Jack's, after our own in-depth analysis, agrees with the FDA in that there is no immediate need to eliminate a grain-free diet. We do, however, recommend that specific supplements be considered to mitigate concerns of taurine deficiencies.

Facts:

  • Dogs are developing Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) that do not have a known pre-disposition to the disease.
  • There is an estimated 77 million dogs in the US of which 515 have been diagnosed with DCM since January 1, 2014.  This equates to 0.0007% of the total dog population in the US.
  • FDA’s current position is that DCM is scientifically complex and likely involves many components including genetics, appropriate diet complete with essential nutrients, and the ability for nutrients to be synthesized by a dog’s physiology.
  • FDA continues to investigate the emergence of DCM and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients.  Science-based results could take years to obtain.   
  • FDA is not advising dietary changes based on the data it has gathered to date.
  • Testing on all the foods named by the FDA did NOT reveal deficiencies in taurine or other essential amino acids for the development of taurine based on the recommended levels established by AAFCO.


Diets fed for the 515 cases studied by the FDA were as follows:

  • 452 were fed dry food (91% was grain free)
  • 24 were fed multiple food forms
  • 26 were unknown
  • 9 fed a raw diet
  • 4 fed home cooked, refrigerated or semi moist.


Signs and Symptoms of DCM

  • Lethargic
  • Persistent cough
  • Decreased Energy
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Episodes of Collapse


Tabby & Jack's Recommendations:

  • If your dog is showing sign of DCM, please see your veterinarian to conduct testing immediately.
  • Since some scientists believe heart disease is linked to diet, consider seeing a holistic or integrative veterinarian who has studied nutrition to promote better health and prevent disease.  Madison area has many great holistic and integrative veterinarians including Full Circle, Whole Pet and Harmony Pet.
  • For optimal health consider feeding a balanced raw meat diet to provide your dog with the most biologically appropriate food for their body.  In is essential that the diet is balanced to ensure appropriate amino acids, vitamins and minerals levels.  Commercial balanced diets are available in our freezer section, or you can work directly with a holistic veterinarian to home-make your dog's food.
  • Supplement your dog’s meal with foods rich in taurine, since taurine deficiency can lead to DCM.  Dry food cooked at high temperature loses any taurine values, so manufacturers must add it back synthetically.  Because taurine will have a much higher absorption rate if consumed in it's natural state, we recommend you supplement with one or more of the following:
    • Raw diets rich in organ meats
    • Sardines or Mackerel once a week
    • Goat’s milk
    • Freeze dried treats:  Liver, Heart, Tuna, Shrimp and Salmon are all high in Taurine!
  • Rotation of protein sources and brands is always recommended.  Not all dogs are built the same.  Rotating foods will give them a better chance for a complete diet for their specific bodies.


Summary:  It's always concerning when a new study emerges, but it is important to know that the FDA has stated that the findings are not conclusive enough to warrant a dietary change.  The root of concerns is taurine deficiency, therefore, Tabby & Jack’s suggests anyone feeding a cooked/processed diet should supplement with a taurine rich food. Dry kibble food is cooked at high temperatures and contain binder ingredients to keep it shelf stable and for the kibble to keep it's shape.  None of the binders used (whether grain or not) are biologically appropriate for a dog, therefore all highly processed food is going to be the culprit to many diseases.  For the best chance for optimal health, fed your dog a balanced raw meat diet. If feeding a raw meat diet to your pet is not financially feasible for you, consider supplementing with one of the ingredients listed above.  Adding extra Taurine in its most natural state will give your dog the best chances of healthy taurine levels and reduced risk for DCM.   


Tabby & Jack’s will continue to follow these studies and will inform our communities as we learn more.

FDA report:
https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy

Other great non-biased information:
https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/food/dog_food/dcm-in-dogs-taurines-role-in-the-canine-diet/


If you would like to discuss your dog's specific diet plan with one of our nutritionists, please come visit one of our locations, or you can direct your questions to our Educational Coordinator and Pet Nutrition Expert, Kathleen Folz at Kathleen@tabbyandjacks.com