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What dog foods are linked to heart disease?

dog foods are linked to heart disease
dog foods are linked to heart disease. Image Source Pixabay.

Heart disease is not something very alarming in dogs. Like humans, dogs are also susceptible to heart diseases.

The question is, what is the cause behind such illness?

If it’s natural, then you and I have nothing else to do except pray and hope for the best.

But this isn’t the case.

The FDA has been constantly supervising pet food products, and the results are alarming.

From 2014 to 2019, the FDA found more than 500 reports of dog heart disease. Some of them are just breed-specific, and others are linked to the food.

In this post, we will look at some of the findings from the FDA and the food ingredients that might be behind all this.

What is canine heart disease?

When people say canine heart disease, in most cases, it means Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM.

In the case of DCM, the hearts of affected dogs become enlarged, and the ability to pump blood declines. The result is congestive heart failure. So, it’s more like a death penalty.

However, the condition is reversible with a proper diet, care, and medication. But this is possible only if your dog breed is naturally not susceptible to DCM.

The common symptoms of DCM are weight loss, cough, weakness, fainting. In worst cases, dogs die without any warning or signs.

So, it’s always a good idea to have regular vet visits and look for DCM symptoms, so that the dog can be treated early. Early treatment will result in greater opportunity to recover and fast healing.

Dog breeds susceptible to DCM.

Generally, large dog breeds are susceptible to DCM. But the latest reports also found some smaller dog breeds also show signs of susceptibility.

The Golden Retriever had the most reported cases. Here is a list of dogs with their number of reported cases:

Dog breedReported cases
Golden Retriever95
Mixed breed62
Labrador Retriever47
Great Dane25
Pit Bull23
German Shepherd Dog19
Doberman Pinscher15
Australian Shepherd13
German Short-haired Pointer7
Shetland Sheepdog7
American Bulldog6
American Cocker Spaniel6
Standard Poodle6
Shih Tzu5

Apart from these breeds, there are other breeds that had multiple reports. Some of these are:

  • Boston Terrier.
  • Chihuahua.
  • Dalmatian.
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
  • Jack Russel Terrier.
  • Portuguese Water Dog.
  • Long-haired Dachshund.
  • Rottweiler.

The reason we provided this list is that, if you the dog breed in this list matches yours then you should take some steps ASAP. Keep your dog in check and try finding better food, if it does not breed-specific.

Dog food ingredients that may cause heart disease.

We have come to the most important part of this post!

The dog ingredients that have been linked to DCM are all found through investigation by the FDA. FDA collected these reports from individual owners who have been feeding a diet for a few months or years.

Analyzing the reports, it was found that most DCM cases were linked to dry dog foods. But other types of dog foods like wet and canned were also included.

The process of finding the culprit ingredients was to examine the food labels of the reported DCM cases and see what they had in common.

The latest July 2019 update has found a strong association between grain-free dog foods and canine heart disease. These are the foods that were devoid of any corn, soy, rice, grains, and barley.

Grain-Free dog foods also contained alternative ingredients like lentils, chickpeas, and potatoes.

In all the cases of canine heart disease, 90% of foods were no-grains, and 93% had peas and lentils. The proportion of potatoes was less compared to the others.


That’s not the end.

You have to know about taurine. Dogs can synthesize taurine from other food nutrients. So, the inclusion of taurine is not mandatory in pet foods.

The alarming fact is that all grain-free dog foods had a methionine-cystine (taurine is synthesized from these) levels above the recommended minimum of 0.65%. This can be another cause behind DCM.

The types of proteins and meats were also examined. It seems long term feeding of no-grain dog foods that had a greater amount of plant proteins might have a link. The inclusion of exotic meat like kangaroo and duck is also something to think about.


Canine heart disease is linked to:

  • Grain-free dog foods.
  • Foods with legume, peas, lentils, and potatoes.
  • Foods with more plant protein.
  • Foods with exotic meat sources.

Dog food brands recalled for heart disease.

A total of 16 dog food brands had reports of DCM cases. Don’t be alarmed if you find your favorite brand on this list. The list doesn’t tell you exactly which foods from these brands are reported. Just move away from grain-free foods after consulting with your vet.

The Acana brand had the most report of 67 and then followed Zignature with 64 reports. Here’s is the full list and this contains brands that had more than 10 reports.

Dog food brandsNumber of reports
Taste of the Wild53
Earthborn Holistic32
Blue Buffalo31
Nature’s Domain29
California Natural15
Natural Balance15
Nature’s Variety10
Rachael Ray Nutrish10

Final thoughts…

It might look that the whole pet food industry is contaminated. However, there are still lots of brands that offer quality ingredients. The cause of canine heart disease might not only be diet. There could be many more underlying causes that are waiting to be found. So, choose your dog’s food wisely.


About the author


I am Jhumon .My Favorite animal is Dog. I love my dog from very young age.Now I am 36 and I am sharing my Experience in this Blog and have some review about dog food and dog bed etc.


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