Healthy Pets Northwest Response to FDA’s DCM Update


Healthy Pets Northwest was founded twenty years ago with the goal of helping pets live longer, happier, healthier lives. It breaks our hearts when we here about people losing a pet for any reason because we know from experience how hard and painful it is. We also understand why the recent reports from the FDA combined with news coverage and social media attention about canine dilated cardiomyopathy (CDM) and diet are causing such concern.

In our twenty years, we have been through minor recalls to massive recalls like the one in 2007 that emptied store shelves. This current scare is not the same. That does not mean that we are ignoring or downplaying the issue. We are looking at all the facts we can find from every trusted, reliable source available, including the FDA.

In its most recent report on June 27, 2019, the FDA tried to clear up some of the rumors and misinformation from its earlier reports. This is one of the conclusions the FDA reached in its own report:

"Therefore, we do not think these cases can be explained simply by whether or not they contain grains, or by brand or manufacturer. To put this issue into proper context, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of April 30, 2019, the FDA has received reports about 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet. Tens of millions of dogs have been eating dog food without developing DCM.”

The FDA also admitted in that report that it does not even know whether this is a real crisis or not.

“Because the occurrence of different diseases in dogs and cats is not routinely tracked and there is no widespread surveillance system like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have for human health, we do not have a measure of the typical rate of occurrence of disease apart from what is reported to the FDA.”

What else do we know from the FDA report?

  • There was no recall, just a listing of brands associated with reports.
  • Foods from small manufacturers to the three largest were on the list.
  • Not all the foods on the list were “grain-free.”
  • Chicken was the most commonly fed protein.
  • The overwhelming majority of dogs in the report ate only dry kibble.
  • 25% of cases involved dog breeds predisposed to DCM.
  • Nutritional levels between grain-free and grain-containing products were similar.
  • Nearly all the grain-free products had methionine-cystine values above the minimum nutritional requirement of 0.65 percent for adult maintenance food for dogs published in the AAFCO Official Publication (OP).
  • The FDA does not recommend changing foods.
  • The FDA is continuing to study the issue.

What can you do going forward?

  1. Add raw food to your pet’s diet. The amino acids taurine, cystine, and methionine only come naturally from animal sources. Even a little bit on a regular basis will go a long way to improving your pet’s health.
  2. Rotate your pet’s diet. Change proteins, manufacturers and even food types. If you are uncomfortable with raw, we recommend adding freeze-dried, lightly cooked, and canned foods to your dog’s diet. Just remember, if your dog is not used to variety, go slowly and give his system a chance to adapt. Michael and Barb feed Meadow a variety of proteins like beef, pork, lamb, chicken, venison, duck and rabbit using raw, freeze-dried and canned foods.
  3. Add meaty treats. Freeze-dried muscle meat, liver and heart are super additions, with chicken liver and hearts leading the way for the highest natural taurine.
  4. Add raw, fermented goat’s milk and kefir. These are super sources of nutrition and probiotics.

These are not new recommendations from us. They have been part of our nutritional philosophy since the very beginning of Healthy Pets Northwest.

What if you are still concerned about “grain-free?”

Talk with us and we’ll be glad to make recommendations for foods that include grains and that do not contain legumes or potatoes. We carry a wide range of options because we know dogs have different needs and families have different situations and budgets.

If you have questions, please reach out to us. We are here to help.

We know there is a lot of information to go through, and that the situation is still up in the air. Please be assured, that we will take appropriate steps if actionable information comes to light.
We thank you for trusting us with your pet’s health and we promise to do everything we can to deserve your trust every day.

Barb Cantonwine, Michael Carroll, Donna Trilli and Dennis Breslin
The Healthy Pets Northwest Ownership

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