Grain-Free Foods Tied to Dangerous Increase of Heart Disease in Dogs

Researchers advise paying close attention to what you're feeding your beloved pooch.

Golden Retriever Eating Kibble
Photo: PK-Photos/Getty Images

Pets are family, which is why most of us go out of our way to treat them as such. But what if, in the interest of doing what's best for our dogs, we're accidentally harming them? Unfortunately, new research suggests that special dog foods could lead to poor cardiovascular health in your beloved pooch.

Last month, a team of veterinarians at the University of California-Davis reported discovering a link between some popular grain-free, legume-rich dog diets and a type of nutritional deficiency and canine heart disease known as taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart muscle disorder that can lead to congestive heart failure and death.

It's not the lack of grains making dogs sick, rather what companies put in place of it. Research suggests that sweet potatoes, peas and other legumes might impede a dog's ability to absorb the taurine.

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While some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to developing DCM, the disease is now showing up unexpectedly in other breeds, like the golden retriever. The common link between these cases is their diets.

"Given this recent surge in cases, we need to pay close attention to what we are feeding dogs," lead author Joshua Stern, a veterinary cardiologist and geneticist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said in a news release. "Choosing a well-researched dog food that has a healthy nutrient profile backed by expert formulation and research is of paramount importance."

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