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Discussion Starter #1
So uh yea, saw a lot of American articles talking about the FDA linking DCM in dogs to grain free food. If even the FDA is bothering to look into it that seems a bit alarming. Wondering what everyone's thoughts on this are? Thought it odd, grain free diets are very popular here in Europe too and I have not heard anything like this here.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/health/grain-free-dog-food-heart-disease.html

It seems like no matter what we feed our dogs, we just might kill them with their food in the end lol.
 

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Meh. It sounds like they're a bit up in the air on what is actually causing DCM in these cases. I would like to know which breeds specifically are reporting this issue, and where they're from (shelter, puppy mill, reputable breeder), what brand the food is, what the age of the dogs were. There's too little information to become alarmed.
 

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Yes I was thinking the same thing. Odd theory when they did not bring up any other factors. I'm certainly not panicking over it nor will I change food right now. My dog is doing great on it and it is quite popular around here for a reason. I would think if these ingredients cause DCM in dogs we would be seeing this issue in dogs on grain free food everywhere, not just the States. I'm interested in seeing what conclusion they come tot though.
 

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I saw something about that recently. The article was from Tufts University, which is definitely my idea of a reliable source. I think the other one made mention that similar issues were noted on dogs eating both raw and vegetarian diets. Seems contradictory, so it should be interesting to see what the root cause of this actually is.

Honestly, I have been against grain free diets since they came out. For one thing, the first brands that went down this road frequently used tapioca or white potatoes. I can't think of anything worse to feed dogs. I never liked that an entire food group was being eliminated and dismissed, either. The first company to do this is the now out of business Innova, with their "Evo" line that was geared towards raw feeders or people interested in a raw diet. It was such a blatant marketing gimmick. It's almost impossible for dogs to be allergic to grains, but they had convinced an entire generation of pet owners grains were the Devil Incarnate. One point that's never discussed is all the phytic acid in non-grain carbohydrate sources like legumes; even oats or brown rice contain more of it than plain white rice would.

Not to mention the protein levels are beyond excessive. When I was doing bird dog training and feeding Eukanuba in the late 90's, we would warn pet owners (we trained pet dogs for behavioral issues as well) that the 25% protein levels were not necessary for normally active household dogs. We saw issues with spaniels, particularly, where they would have more nervous energy than they knew what to do with. Several times we resolved mild aggression issues where the dog got worked up during play and inadvertently bit someone, or destructive chewing just by lowering protein levels. Sometimes even dogs in the field had problems with"overheating" and going into seizures with the combination of hi-protein + hot conditions. No, I've never seen those grain free diets as a healthy option. They always seemed to me like the most unnatural food a dog could possibly eat. Even if you believe dogs are domesticated wolves, what wolf is going to get that much meat on a daily basis, complete with a bowl of lentils, chick peas or tapioca on the side? Then consider that average wolf lifespan is 7-8 years, and that high protein, high meat diet doesn't look so appealing anymore.
 

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Well they die far too early anyway. I told Max he had to live to 35 and did he? NO!

Max had a scary gallop heart rhythm and had minor seizures for a couple years and I researched quite a while ago. Some dogs need taurine although dogs are supposed to be able to synthesize it from cysteine. That's all it is. The natural taurine in dog food can be degraded in the small intestine and the theory was that the fiber in brown rice aided this process. I suspect that's what is going on now, legumes are just as good or better as brown rice in destroying taurine. Perhaps cysteine levels need to be increased in dog food, possibly go either way.

They are taking blood and checking blood taurine levels. It's been done with cats since the 1990s and there are studies with seizures and DCM in dogs as well. Look into cat raw rabbit study, dog seizure taurine well as dog DCM taurine.
 

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Meh. It sounds like they're a bit up in the air on what is actually causing DCM in these cases. I would like to know which breeds specifically are reporting this issue, and where they're from (shelter, puppy mill, reputable breeder), what brand the food is, what the age of the dogs were. There's too little information to become alarmed.
If you read the article, it specifically states the increase in cases are NOT genetically linked. And, unlike the genetic version of cardiomyopathy, most of the affected dogs have recovered with taurine supplementation and a change of diet. The dog in this article was said to have a taurine level of 58, when normal is 200+. Age was mentioned at least once in the original Tuft's article. The dog was 4 years old.
http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/06/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-free-diets-and-exotic-ingredients/
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well they die far too early anyway. I told Max he had to live to 35 and did he? NO!

Max had a scary gallop heart rhythm and had minor seizures for a couple years and I researched quite a while ago. Some dogs need taurine although dogs are supposed to be able to synthesize it from cysteine. That's all it is. The natural taurine in dog food can be degraded in the small intestine and the theory was that the fiber in brown rice aided this process. I suspect that's what is going on now, legumes are just as good or better as brown rice in destroying taurine. Perhaps cysteine levels need to be increased in dog food, possibly go either way.

They are taking blood and checking blood taurine levels. It's been done with cats since the 1990s and there are studies with seizures and DCM in dogs as well. Look into cat raw rabbit study, dog seizure taurine well as dog DCM taurine.
Ha I tell Onyx the same thing except it's "You better make it until you are at least 30!"

Very interesting indeed. Do you think supplementing dogs with taurine, especially ones who are more susceptible to heart problems, would be a smart idea in general? I have an older dog - breed known for heart failure - and she had a small murmur. Her taurine levels were fine though so her food certainly isn't having any negative effects there. I have been supplementing with Ubiquinol and last time I went to the vet they could not detect her murmur. I Have no idea if the supplement is what helped but I'm certainly not stopping it.
 

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If you read the article, it specifically states the increase in cases are NOT genetically linked. And, unlike the genetic version of cardiomyopathy, most of the affected dogs have recovered with taurine supplementation and a change of diet. The dog in this article was said to have a taurine level of 58, when normal is 200+. Age was mentioned at least once in the original Tuft's article. The dog was 4 years old.
http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/06/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-free-diets-and-exotic-ingredients/
Thanks for the original! The NY Times article was a Golden Retriever named Bentley, but the original Tufts article was a 4 year old lab/beagle named Peanut. I don't think the NY Times article mentioned an age of the Golden.

I'm also curious if the exotic proteins have anything to do with it. They did mention that, for example, lamb might have different taurine levels than a chicken-based food. They didn't specifically mention the exact protein in the affected dogs' grain free diets, hence why I think they have to do a bit more research before they decide that anything grain-free is causing these issues. It could very well be the protein, not the grain/lack of grain.
 

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In my opinion, it has nothing to do with the grain. Grain is NOT a source of taurine, never has been, never will be. Meat is the source of taurine and, it's over processing that destroys taurine and, who knows what else in the meat used in kibble. Even assuming a modern domestic dog is best suited to eat like a wolf, that in no way means cooked, dried, overheated, sterilized kibble. It means raw whole animals, that includes the contents of the stomach and intestines and, a few wild berries, grasses, etc.. Nowhere are they going to be eating peas, beans, potatoes, tapioca, corn, wheat, etc... that we find in kibble today and, no way is anything they eat going to be cooked at all. So if dogs need a wolf's diet, then they need raw, whole prey animals and, that isn't something the vast majority can feed exclusively.

Like human foods, this is bad, no it's good, now that is bad, oh wait that's good.... feed what works for you and your dog, if you're concerned, get the dog tested for nutrient levels and, change diets or supplement as needed based on test results.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
In my opinion, it has nothing to do with the grain. Grain is NOT a source of taurine, never has been, never will be. Meat is the source of taurine and, it's over processing that destroys taurine and, who knows what else in the meat used in kibble. Even assuming a modern domestic dog is best suited to eat like a wolf, that in no way means cooked, dried, overheated, sterilized kibble. It means raw whole animals, that includes the contents of the stomach and intestines and, a few wild berries, grasses, etc.. Nowhere are they going to be eating peas, beans, potatoes, tapioca, corn, wheat, etc... that we find in kibble today and, no way is anything they eat going to be cooked at all. So if dogs need a wolf's diet, then they need raw, whole prey animals and, that isn't something the vast majority can feed exclusively.

Like human foods, this is bad, no it's good, now that is bad, oh wait that's good.... feed what works for you and your dog, if you're concerned, get the dog tested for nutrient levels and, change diets or supplement as needed based on test results.
Agree with you there. Fresh food has always made the most sense to me. And as you said, raw meat is quite high in taurine. I currently do half raw half kibble as full on raw is not feasible for me at this time. Funnily enough, I started adding raw at the same time I started her on the Ubiquinol supplement. Who knows which one may have had the biggest impact in her heart improvement.

I know heat destroys taurine and other minerals/vitamins but I thought most dog foods add these after the food is made so it isn't issue. Regardless, hopefully they find a cause for all of this so it can be sorted out.
 

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Eh, I did hear about this study, but I can't bring myself to be too worked up about it yet. It's interesting, but they have a hypothesis, not any kind of reproducible results. And this is certainly not an epidemic, so it's clearly not a clear-cut case of "if your dog eats X it will get heart problems" - something else is going on. I do believe quite strongly in "know thy dog" when it comes to feeding - if grain-free works best for your dog, great. If grain-inclusive does the same, awesome. Same with balanced raw/home-cooked. I do agree that dogs are by far more likely to develop meat protein allergies than allergies to corn, rice, wheat, etc. (though plant allergies do happen in dogs), but at the same time I also believe that allergies aren't always the only reason a certain food/ingredient doesn't work for a dog, esp in quantity. Just like with humans.

I also wonder about the wisdom of feeding a dog the same variety of the same brand of food their whole lives. Personally, I've always rotated kibbles at almost every bag, if not brand than at least flavor/protein source. Mostly because I feel like it's got to be less boring for the dog that way, but I do also wonder if it's protective against long-term deficiencies to a degree. Then again, I also feed half raw so I, personally, am not too concerned about taurine deficiencies. Ofc this variety isn't possible for all dogs - super sensitive stomachs, protein allergies, pickiness, etc. definitely make a difference.

Grain inclusive and grain free foods are, imo, often equally bad about marketing. They're companies; they have to make people want to buy the food or they'll go out of business. I laugh equally hard over grain-free food with "visible flecks of green tea" on the kibble (yeah, a real thing on a brand over here) and grain-inclusive food that are in "fun" shapes or market towards, for example, a specific breed that doesn't have any particular dietary considerations.
 

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@DaySleepers I'm with you, I do stick to one of three brands of kibble but, I do change it up every couple of months. Most of the dog diet here is raw and, that's definitely varied. I hunt and fish and, raise rabbits and chickens for the dogs. Every other year I buy a steer, and, the in between years, I buy meat goats or sheep. The raw they get is definitely varied by year and season. When all else fails for something to add to the rabbit and chicken, it's a wild hog. The produce I add for them also varies, more fruit in the late spring and summer, soft vegies in the fall and, root crops and canned or frozen vegies winter and early spring.

I laugh at the gimmicks too. Green tea, a few dehydrated peas tossed in for looks, artificial colors, usually red and green which dogs can't see. Then we get the "formulated for" this or that but, reading the label reveals it's the same as the other two or three formulas of that brand save for some artificial color and, maybe chicken byproduct meal instead of chicken by product. LOL

I also laugh when someone is totally against feeding meat byproduct. By legal definition "Meat By-Products – is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, & stomachs & intestines freed of their contents." Is meat byproduct. AKA offal, brain and bone, all good for dogs as part of a raw diet. I just don't like it being the primary meat the dogs get.

Reference: https://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/cat/dr-coates/2014/june/what-kind-meat-products-are-your-cats-food-31805
 

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I am personally not worried about it yet and will continue to feed my dogs Orijen. I'm glad they are looking into this though. And I do agree that "grain free" on its own does not make a food better or worse than any other.
 

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From what I understand it's not necessarily grain free that is the issue but that certain ingredients (legumes and potatoes) may be blocking taurine absorption. Of course we wont know anything for sure until Dr. Sterns study is complete but for me there is enough backing this theory up to go ahead and avoid those ingredients for now. I'm rotating between both grain free and grain inclusive that just aren't full of things like pea, lentils, potatoes, etc. I was looking at a chart earlier that showed the different foods dogs were on and what their taurine levels tested at and then what they tested at after a diet change, it was interesting.
 

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I contacted Taste of the Wild and they replied that it's not an issue with their food because they are adding taurine. I can't really figure out if it's a valid reason not to worry or not, if absorption is the problem.
 
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