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DCM - A take from a vet nutrionist

Discussion in 'Commercial Food' started by k9kreationz, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. k9kreationz

    k9kreationz Premium Member

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    Whatever is going on, this blog article is the conclusion I came to after reading through as much as I could over the past week. He mirrors my thoughts exactly. If you read the comments, the other vet that asked him to clarify his stance is the one who started the large FB board. I liked her questions, but how he answered is how I feel.

    https://justinshmalberg.com/blog/20...smZIWCxJ__cmyAgwpMjrjws5sez62gtNqGXq1VC0j8UaQ
     
    Ann, KarenCurtis, Sharon7 and 2 others like this.
  2. Sandy in CT

    Sandy in CT Premium Member

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    Interesting read - thank you for posting it!
     
    KarenCurtis likes this.
  3. pomshe

    pomshe Forums Regular

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    Thanks for posting. They make some very good, rational points.
     
    KarenCurtis likes this.
  4. The Quahog

    The Quahog Forums Enthusiast

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    For what its worth, here is my post on our hospital Facebook page to try and answer all the queries we have received....

    We have been receiving a lot of queries lately about the possible dangers of feeding 'grain free' diets. This has been a controversy for several years now. However there have been several recent articles, particularly from recent recommendations from the FDA, which have caused a lot of concern. As these reach Facebook, message boards, chat rooms etc. the misinformation multiplies. So here is our take. We are not saying it is right or wrong, other veterinarians will have different opinions because the jury is still out on the subject, but for what it is worth here is our current opinion.
    The problem at hand is that certain foods with less standard carbohydrates have been incriminated in causing cardiomyopathy in dogs. Cardiomyopathy (Cardio- heart, myo- muscle, pathy- something wrong) is a disease where the heart muscle weakens so that the heart walls become thin, causing the heart to increase in size, and leading to heart failure. The supposed link is to what are called ‘BEG foods’ - boutique, exotic, or grain free. This has been a thought for some time, but a study last year out of the California veterinary school suggested a possibly significant, (how is that for choosing our words carefully?), correlation between these foods and cardiomyopathy in Golden Retrievers.
    Grain free foods, in the opinion of veterinary nutritionists, (and veterinary non -nutritionists such as myself), have always been a sort of grandstanding merchandising gimmick. There has never been shown to be any benefit to feeding them. Yet you hear all sorts of nonsense about how grains cause ‘inflammatory plaques’ on the eyes that cause cataracts, on the brains that cause cognitive issues, etc. I have fought with these people for many years, as it is really pretty evil to tell an owner they made their dog go blind by feeding the wrong food, perhaps at their veterinarian’s suggestion, when that was total nonsense. (Two things you should NEVER take as gospel when you see them discussed on the internet are nutrition and behavior, because in those two fields you can pretend to be an expert when you are simply clueless.) The cause of the problem may be that the lentils, chick peas and even potatoes in these diets interfere with the formation of taurine, an amino acid necessary for heart health. That is odd, since dogs can make taurine, cats can not. That is why when you feed a cat nothing but dog food you do in fact put them at risk for cardiomyopathy - this has been known for a long time. Cat foods have taurine added, dog foods often do not. However more recent work suggests that BEG foods have caused cardiomyopathy in dogs with perfectly normal taurine levels, so that is considered a separate syndrome, adding to the confusion.
    It should be pointed out that it is hard to be certain of anything because we are dealing with a VERY small sample size here. The reports talk about perhaps 4-500 dogs affected over a period of 5 years or so, out of the tens of millions fed commercial foods. This is somewhat akin to a (theoretical) human study looking for a link between eating bananas and having prostate cancer based on a few hundred cases. Yes, the people doing these studies know what they are doing and how to handle statistics, but still this makes it very difficult to draw any statistically significant conclusion. We have found no reference to any ‘major epidemic’ of cardiomyopathy in recent years, and we certainly have not seen it in our practice. It is just a ‘gut feeling', but cardiomyopathy seems to have been much more common twenty years ago than it is now.

    So much for theory. On to ‘what does this mean in the real world?’ Well, since they don’t have any real benefit and may be putting animals at risk, don’t choose to feed exotic ingredient BEG foods. Fine, that was easy. However consider the following conundrums - 1) Should animals who have been on grain free foods be ‘tested’ either through getting an echocardiogram or blood testing to look for heart muscle damage? 2) The limited ingredient diets used for allergies, which are very helpful and greatly improve the quality of life of many pets almost by definition fall into the BEG category. Should owners switch off them? 3) ‘My dog likes his Boutique dog food - it is the only one he eats and he does really well on it. Should I switch?’
    Our opinion, as this is written, is that there is little cause for alarm based on present knowledge. No, we do not think dogs on BEG foods need to be tested. Nor is it imperative that you switch off them if they are working well for your dog. However when choosing a food for your new puppy or adult rescue ,sure, since the exotic diets have no proven value and might be a problem best to avoid them for now.
     
    Sharon7, RikyR, KarenCurtis and 2 others like this.
  5. KarenCurtis

    KarenCurtis Premium Member

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    Excellent answer, thank you! We recently switched Sandstorms food at the advice of a cardiologist. Even though SS did well on the Blue Buffalo, we weren't taking any chances, and he's doing well on the ProPlan.
     
  6. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

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    Thanks, Dr. Mac. You always provide that necessary grain of salt. It sure does get me to thinking about going with Purina Pro Plan!!!
     
    KarenCurtis and Sharon7 like this.
  7. The Quahog

    The Quahog Forums Enthusiast

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    Thanks Chris.
    It is just concerning to think that this will be so devastating to several very good premium companies who may well be destroyed because of the rapid dissemination of unproven concern from 'See what I found first!' -ers. It is a bit like my constant advice 'Never read the drug insert!!' One has to understand how to interpret something like an FDA warning. They are useful and a heads up for possible more concrete information to follow.
    I will confess, however, to a bit of 'schadenfreude' irony as someone who has always believed there are many 'right' answers to the question 'what do you feed your dog?'. It has always bothered me to see someone come on a breed board with their 7 year old dog who is doing great on , say, Beneful or Pedigee or Purina Dog Chow and then get hammered that they are killing their dog and need to upgrade. The constant 'Holy Grail' search for the one Utopian 'best' food of message boards frankly is not helpful. And I fear the 'counterattack' here will be just as much of an overreaction.
    Let me just clarify by 'here' I mean in this overall situation, not on this board.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    RikyR, Ann, Sharon7 and 1 other person like this.
  8. KarenCurtis

    KarenCurtis Premium Member

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    The ProPlan sensitive stomach formulas are very good
     
  9. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

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    Ordered my first Pro Plan Lamb and Oatmeal and will start transitioning next week, will report on how it goes. It is very similar ingredients minus peas and some fruits, to the Wellness I have been feeding. I don't want to buy into any hysteria but frankly, better safe(er) than sorry, at least for my own peace of mind.
     
    ghggp, KarenCurtis and Wendy C like this.
  10. KarenCurtis

    KarenCurtis Premium Member

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    Yep! I'm hoping my local feed store has the lamb and oatmeal, they
    only had the salmon, which is fine, but Id like to rotate
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019

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