FDA Identifies 16 Dog Food Brands Possibly Linked to Heart Disease in Dogs

By Paula Liu

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to dog owners of a possible link between dog food brands and the development of a canine heart condition, according to multiple reports.

The FDA stated that they investigated the connection between certain dog food brands and the risk of developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart problem where the “heart’s ability to pump blood is decreased because the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, is enlarged and weakened,” according to MedicineNet.

The FDA received reports of household dogs and cats around the country that were diagnosed with this heart disease. The FDA said they have now published the numbers of domesticated pets that have been officially diagnosed by veterinarians or veterinary cardiologists. The agency stated they received isolated reports since 2014, but it wasn’t until July 2018 that the FDA began investigating the reports of the heart disease.

From January 2014 to April 2019, the FDA received a total of 524 reports of DCM being diagnosed, with 517 being reported between 2018 and April 2019. In these 524 reports, 515 cases dealt with dogs, while only 9 cases dealt with cats, according to the FDA. A total of 119 dogs and 5 cats died from DCM.

The brands in question, according to the most recent investigation done by the FDA, were ranked from most cases of reports to the least, along with the specific number of cases being reported:

  • Acana (67)
  • Zignature (64)
  • Taste of the Wild (53)
  • 4Health (32)
  • Earthborn Holistic (32)
  • Blue Buffalo (31)
  • Nature’s Domain (29)
  • Fromm (24)
  • Merrick (16)
  • California Natural (15)
  • Natural Balance (15)
  • Orijen (12)
  • Nature’s Variety (11)
  • NutriSource (10)
  • Nutro (10)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish (10)

Most of these foods, according to the reported cases, derived from dry foods, with 452 cases. Foods that came in multiple forms came in second at 24 reported cases.

According to the FDA, it was also important to note the breed of the animal that were included in these reported cases. Since the vast majority of these cases pertained to dogs, the FDA also isolated these cases into categories of breeds of dogs.

Out of these 515 cases reported, there were 19 various breed types presented, including mixed breeds and unknown breeds, accounting for 62 and 13 of the cases of the 515 reported respectively. Golden retrievers ranked number one of all the 515 cases reported, standing at 95 cases, followed by mixed breeds, and Labrador retrievers came in at 47 cases.

The FDA said in their report that they encourage the owners of pets to get together with their veterinarians to make sure that the food that their dogs are eating is healthy for the dog and will not cause the animal any problems, such as DCM.

According to CNN, Steven M. Solomon, the director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinarian Medicine said, “We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods.”

The FDA stated that if a pet owner sees or witnesses any signs of DCM, including decreased energy, coughing, difficulty in breathing or any instances of the pet collapsing, it is important and crucial to bring your pet to a veterinarian for a check-up immediately. FDA also stated that if the pet exhibits any forms of heart-related diseases or conditions, the owners should seek out a veterinarian.

The FDA stated in their report that it will continue to gather more information and will provide the public with details once more updates are available. As of right now, the current amount of information does not warrant the recall of these particular dog food brands, CNN reported.

In a question and answer session with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, the reasons for not recalling the products in the report were as follows:

“The FDA has not yet determined the nature of the possible connection between these foods and canine DCM, so we do not have definitive information indicating that the food needs to be removed from the market. We have shared case report information with these firms so they can make informed decisions about the marketing and formulation of their products. We are also sharing this information with the public, but encourage pet owners to work with their veterinarians, who may consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, prior to making diet changes,” the FDA stated.