The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first alerted the public about this investigation in July 2018. Since then, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has taken a multi-pronged approach to the investigation, collaborating with a variety of components of the animal health sector to collect and evaluate information about the Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases and the diets pets ate prior to becoming ill.
Based on the information gathered as part of our investigation to date, our advice to pet owners remains consistent. The agency has not identified specific recommendations about diet changes for dogs who are not displaying DCM symptoms but encourages pet owners to consult directly with their veterinarians for their animal’s dietary advice.
The report says large breed dogs are mostly affected, with cases being most common in golden retrievers, mixed breeds and Labrador retrievers. However, there have been cases of smaller breeds, as well, suggesting “a lack of a genetic connection,” the report notes.
And also cats are prone to develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which also is heart disease, the report notes.
In most of the cases, the dogs ate dry food formulations. The investigation also looked into the ingredients or characteristics of the dogs’ diets. More than 90% of diets were “grain-free” and 93% had peas and/or lentils.
“Most dogs in the U.S. have been eating pet food without apparently developing DCM,” the FDA report states, adding the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates there are 77 million dogs in the country. “It’s not known how commonly dogs develop DCM, but the increase in reports to FDA signal a potential increase in cases of DCM in dogs not genetically predisposed.”
FDA identifies 16 dog food brands
“However, the FDA is first and foremost a public health agency, and takes seriously its responsibility to protect human and animal health,” the agency said in the statement. “In the case of DCM, the agency has an obligation to be transparent with the pet-owning public regarding the frequency with which certain brands have been reported.”
Here are the 16 brands identified in the report for having the most cases and how many cases they had were reported to the FDA:
Other brands of pet food were identified in a 78-page FDA document, which also notes details of each case with the animal's breed, age, and weight along with a description of the reported illness.
Champion Petfoods, which owns Acana and Orijen, said in a statement to USA TODAY Friday that “our hearts go out to every pet and pet lover who have been impacted by DCM.
“We take this very seriously and will continue to work internally and with other industry leaders on research into the cause of DCM in order to help pet lovers understand the facts,” the statement said. “Our own research, and the millions of pets who have thrived by eating our food over 25 years, have shown that Champion pet foods are safe.”
The FDA urged veterinarians to report cases by using its electronic Safety Reporting Portal or by calling state FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.
Pet owners are advised to contact their veterinarian immediately if “a dog is showing possible signs of DCM or other heart conditions, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse,” the report said.
The FDA also said it in the report that it looks to industry organizations and pet food manufacturers to contribute to the investigation “while continuing their own investigations to help shed light on potential issues with formulas or ingredients.”
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Learn more at www.fda.gov.