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Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 29 Jun 2019, 13:57
by Corgeze
On the national news yesterday and today they have been talking about grain free food causing cardio myelopathy in dogs. This does concern me. With an epi dog what do you do? I feed Fromm Salmon Tunelini which is grain free and my girl does very well on this. I do add a sardine everyday and sometimes eggs. I don't want to go to a raw diet so does a person stick to what I am feeding or go back to regular food.? What is the best thing to do?

Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 29 Jun 2019, 14:56
by Miss Maddie Moo
As you can imagine this has come up alot over the recent months all i can say is that you need to look carefully at the ingredients and read what EPI4dogs stance is on this ,for EPI dogs we still tend to recommend a grain free diet but advise people to be careful that there are proper meat protein rather than veg derived protein :

Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 30 Jun 2019, 13:51
by Jean
i have asked our Executive Research Director & Founder, Olesia, to make comment, its a very difficult situation


Forum Director

Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 30 Jun 2019, 16:24
by Olesia711
I responded a few hours ago with a post that took me almost an hour to write, cover all the details, etc.... and the post disappeared.... SOOOoooooo frustrating.

So.....i will try to recap here:

Think back about 5 or 6 years ago when grain free food was mostly made with sweet potato or potatoes or tapioca.... you didn't hear of DCM being a problem with dogs being fed grain free food.

Fast forward to a few years ago when dog food companies started pushing peas as high protein (more profit for them as peas are much cheaper than sweet potato) and they started swapping out sweet potatoes for peas.. big time....remember ????? Then we started noticing our dogs started having issues again (with SID)

Now fast forward to present time..... all of a sudden you started hearing about a rash of DCM. There is a ton of valid, peer reviewed quantified research that really gets into the weeds about DCM on this website

Unfortunately everyone is so busy nowadays that they don't take the time or don't have the time to read full/detailed valid research- -everyone wants everything in easy to read brief articles or soundbites.... and this is probably why so much information gets skewed or is misleading and the science gets misquoted.

if you really read the actual scientific research it is the lack of high quality protein that appears to be the trigger, not necessarily "grain-free" foods, but rather the ingredients in commercial food that is missing the real nutrition that dogs (and cats) need in their diet..... instead nowadays much commercial pet food is now packed with cheap ingredients that also actually inhibit proper assimilation of the necessary nutrients.

And this happened in a big wave with mostly grain free foods. They changed the ingredient composition with grossly insufficient ingredients :(

The pet food industry started swapping out sweet potatoes, white potatoes, tapioca, or combo's of this & rice with peas and lentils which are much cheaper (but not a useful protein for dogs) and they started doing it in a big way. Now you see multiple cheap ingredients in a food like: peas, pea flour, pea fiber, chick peas, lentils, etc, lessening the quality protein that dogs need...

SO.... what do you do????

We still suggest to go with a low fiber food for EPI dogs... BUT... avoid foods with multiple sources of peas and or lentils.
Also.... avoid foods that have peas/lentils as the first top 3 ingredients (maybe even avoid those with these as the first top 4 ingredients)

Be responsible.... READ THE LABEL and scrutinize the ingredients.... it is all about the ingredients!

The good thing that came about from this is vet researchers started scrambling to find out why DCM started happening more frequently now... we now have many more answers... like even some meats are low proteins and should not be fed long term to a dog, (like lamb -based protein.... not so great after all).

For EPI pets... we have always suggested to look in the grain free food section because that is where you find the most "low-fiber" content food. It is fiber that can interfere with the efficacy of enzymes anywhere from 0%"to 50%. It is LOW FIBER content food that EPI pets usually (but not always) appear to do better with. As it is certain types of fiber that are beneficial and certain types of fiber that hinder our dogs digestion................... (read the fiber page)

If a low fiber food doesn't work for your dog, then try a food with some grain in it like rice. After all... we don't know from one dog to the next how much damage is done in their body with EPI and consequently how well or not well they will be able to tolerate grain with their enzyme intake... ALthough most appear to do much better with low fiber foods....

And last but not least..... remember.... ANYONE can write an article and get it published. Sometimes even research itself is skewed cause a company that has a vested interest in the outcome of the research up-fronts the money for the research.... so always, ALWAYS, look for "peer-reviewed" research. quantified and qualified research. Don't be suckered in by media reports written by some journalist.... or media snippet. Check it out yourself and if reading about research... do check the references (other research) that was used to support that documentation. If your vet recommends your research on this too, as many times vets (and drs) can only go by what THEY are told as they too don't have time to fully research something.........

Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 01 Jul 2019, 10:32
by Barb
Thank you so much, Olesia, for this enlightening response to a complicated issue and for the good suggestions as to how to approach the information we read. Everyone is bombarded each day with so much information, as well as misinformation, that it is hard to sort out sometimes. Thank you for giving us a guide.


Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 01 Jul 2019, 14:59
by Olesia711
You are very welcome Barb!

I know what i wrote means more work for everyone: do some investigation yourself, do not always take things at face value,..... but i really hope it gives some guidance to those that want to do the best that they can for their4-legged companions.

Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 02 Jul 2019, 05:08
by Jean
very interesting O I will keep that explanation


Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 02 Jul 2019, 13:30
by Olesia711
Thanks Jean..... interestingly, Taste of the Wild is one of the foods (i guess there was a new/recent study done (which i have not checked the references on...) that gave a list of the top foods used by dogs that developed DCM..... one of them being Taste of the Wild. I personally can attest to the fact that my dogs (EPI + non-EPI) ate this food for years and years....( i just started using different brands the past couple of years due to the fact that i personally am irritated with all the excess amount of peas & lentil ingredients lately) and not one of my 3 dogs developed DCM... and i know of hundreds of people (if not more!) from the Epi4Dogs Forum that have also used the same food for many years.

SO.... my take-away is (If the references do check out from this new publication) that just because a dog food appears to be fed to the dogs that DO develop DCM ..... it does not mean that because you feed that particular food to your dog that your dog will develop DCM.

My thought, as mentioned in my original post, is to read the ingredients and make a reasonable decision on what to feed based on the ingredients.................

ALSO.......i should have mentioned.... that folks need to remember.... that the pet food industry can make a change in the ingredients and not list/publicize it for up to 6 be aware of this itty bitty detail if your dog ever starts feeling/acting sick when you change dog foods.... CALL THE COMPANY directly, don't depend on what you read on the label.....

Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 03 Jul 2019, 02:55
by Ruby
Thank you for addressing this issue. I have read through most info you provided. I will check my dogs food and take the information you shared to heart.

Re: Grain free food and heart problems

Posted: 04 Jul 2019, 07:51
by Paige's Guardian
I have been reading labels for years because I have 1 lab that is allergic to poultry and my Great Dane with malabsorption is allergic to PEAS.

So, in that time trying to avoid PEAS has become more and more difficult. And, with PEAS, the formulas are now including pea fiber, pea protein, pea starch, lentils, chickpeas and beans.....ALL in the same formula. I used to feed TOTW Pacific stream until they added peas. Now, that formula also has lentils. This DCM thing has gotten my attention even though we have avoided peas, we ended up with POTATO ingredients in our dog food selection.

Now we have even more reading of peer-reviewed research. There are several nice articles online from Board Certified Vet Nutritionists who have taken the time to read and digest the information. I have read the information and their opinions on the information. I also joined a closed FB group that is administrated/moderated by vet professionals including vet cardiologists. They have a lot of the research articles listed in their learning section which helped me to digest the information.

With 3 labradors and 1 Great Dane, I am more confused than ever but wading thru the information.