Recently, you may have seen news about certain pet foods being associated with heart disease in dogs.  We wanted to give you an update and the most current information we have on this situation.

About 15 months ago, cardiologists started noticing a disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in breeds of dogs not usually affected by that disease.  At first this seemed like a few isolated dogs, but it became clear that all cardiologists were seeing dogs with the same phenomenon.  The cardiologists have been working together with experts and the FDA to identify links between the affected dogs.  The only commonality was that the majority of dogs were on grain free diets.  The FDA last week released a list of diets the affected dogs were eating.  Click here to access the list.

What should you do?

  • The majority of these diets on the list contain peas and lentils, so you should avoid foods with these ingredients, especially as one of the first 5 ingredients. Consider transitioning to a diet with at least one grain, like rice, oatmeal, or barley.
  • If your pet is eating one of the brands listed, for the time being you should switch to a different brand of food. Preferably, choose a food that has standard ingredients like chicken or beef and grains as we don’t yet understand which novel ingredients may affect dogs or why.
  • If your pet has food allergies or is unable to switch to another food, call us. Our medical staff are happy to discuss options with you.
  • If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of DCM and has been on a grain free, homemade, or otherwise unique diet, please call us so we can set up and exam and further testing.
  • Rotating every few months between diets has been proposed as a way to prevent problems with a food from becoming a whole-body issue. This is because most whole-body deficiencies or excesses take months to a year or more to develop (there are exceptions to this).  So, switching the food every few months may correct a deficiency or excess becomes it becomes a problem in the body.  Be sure to include diets with grains.
  • At this time the problem seems to mainly be affecting dogs, but if you are concerned about your cat’s diet please call us.

Symptoms of DCM

Symptoms of DCM can include loss of appetite, pale gums, increased heart rate, coughing, difficulty breathing, periods of weakness, inability to complete normal exercise or tiring easily, and fainting.  If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, please call us to schedule and exam and further testing.


Dr. Shelley Brown

Chief Medical Officer

Harmony Veterinary Center

13777 W. 85th Drive

Arvada, CO 80005