Is grain free food hurting your dog’s heart?

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I don’t like posting dog food controversies on this blog, simply because dog food leads to lots of fights.

A few years ago, it was revealed that dogs had more copies of gene that leads to the production of amylase than wolves do. Amylase is used to convert starches into simple sugars, and dogs with these extra copies would be better able to get nutrition from grains.  These extra copies made it easier for dogs to live in human societies that were shifting from hunter-gatherer to the modern agrarian exist.

That study means that dogs can do well on a diet that is rich in grains.  Many members the raw feeding movement,  swear that dogs must be fed only meat and organs. Some dogs do have a real difficulty digesting grain-based dog food, and they certainly would do better on this diet. However, in the raw feeding community, there is a generally held belief that virtually all degenerative disease in dogs can be traced to having corn or some other grain in the diet.

That controversy is still raging, though not in scientific circles. The real controversy with grains and dog food right now comes from the discovery of a linkage between feeding grain free dog food and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).  Grain free dog foods have been all the rage in recent years. They provide the convenient kibbles, but unlike grain-based kibble, some sort of legume is used to create the mixture.

Last year, there was deep suspicion that dogs fed a grain free diet were having issues with DCM, and a few days ago, the FDA released a study that shows a very strong linkage between these diets and contracting DCM.

The current hypothesis is that the legumes interfere in some way with he excretion and production of taurine, which creates a taurine deficiency that leads to the DCM.

More research needs to be done, of course.  Taurine is not considered an essential amino acid for dogs, but it very well might be.

Maybe, though, the best thing to feed a dog is a scientifically formulated dog food from a long-established company, one that has performed decades worth of research on its products.

Until we know for sure, maybe it’s safer to feed dogs one of those brands.

I certainly think so.

Natural History

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