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Does a grain free diet cause heart disease in pets?

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Over the weekend the stories were breaking of warning from the FDA that grain free diets caused heart disease in dogs. By this morning, a friend called me concerned that he heard that grain free diets caused cancer. This is typical of today's news cycle. It reminds me very much like that pass the whisper a word game you would play as kids, where we would sit in a circle and say a sentence - after 10 or some people the sentence would be completely different and lost it's meaning. 

The article comes from Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN - a veterinary nutritionist. You can find it here. Though this has been being looked into for some time.

The original case that came to her view was from a lab mix that was on a kanagroo / chickpea diet that developed Dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM. Medication and diet change helped and the pet is fine today.

Through her research Dr. Freeman saw that has been an increase in DCM since 2000. As she states "There is suspicion that the disease is associated with eating boutique or grain-free diets,..... It’s not yet clear if diet is causing this issue."

It is looking like a deficiency of an amino acid called taurine may be the culprit. Increasing taurine has helped in many of the cases.

This makes sense as grain free and gluten free diets tend to lack in amino acids. If your body (or your pets body) cannot produce the amino acids it needs the body will find it in other places - like your muscles.

So, if your pet needs to be on a grain free diet. 1st verify with your vet that your pet needs to continue grain free and 2nd add in sources for food into your pets overall diet that are high in taurine like; fish, meat and egss. If your pet requires a meat free option, look into seaweed.

We hope this helps our friends who require a grain free diet.