The Root Cause of DCM in Dogs: What’s the Truth?
Recently, DCM in dogs has been attributed to grain-free dog foods. Pet owners are jumping to this conclusion after a minuscule amount of data was collected by the FDA on the topic. Although pet nutrition is a factor in many aspects of canine health, when it comes to DCM, the root cause continues to point to genetics.
Ever since the first report of canine DCM, studies have continuously shown that specific dog breeds are more prone to developing the disease than others. Large breeds of dogs have always had a higher risk of developing a variety of diseases, and DCM is included on that list. So why all of a sudden are pet owners and canine experts claiming that diet is the new cause of dilated cardiomyopathy?
Because of the higher rate of DCM in dogs starting a few years back, researchers have been on the hunt for some answers. These researchers claimed to find the missing piece of the puzzle after a short research study was performed. They found that many dogs diagnosed with DCM were also being fed a grain-free diet. Just as anyone would expect, this inconclusive finding created a wave of panic among pet owners of the world. Panic that is completely unwarranted.
The Main Issues with the Claims Against Grain-Free Dog Food
The very first problem with these new “findings” linking DCM to grain-free pet food is that there is not nearly enough evidence to back it up. If ingredients in dog food were indeed the culprit behind DCM, researchers would be testing all grain-free pet foods. In the most well-known study on the matter, only 16 brands were tested. This number barely scratches the surface of the grain-free foods on the market these days.
Another huge issue surrounding the study has to do with conflict of interest. There were just 3 veterinarians working on this particular research study. Each of these professional vets had ties with different dog food manufacturers, which is actually a fairly common practice for veterinarians. But guess what? These vets all had connections with traditional dog food labels, traditional labels that have been losing a great deal of business to grain-free dog food manufacturers. This all seems very fishy.
Here’s another interesting fact about the study: “Of the 51 dogs diagnosed with DCM, according to the research conducted by one of the three vets, less than half were on grain-free diets.” If a grain-free diet truly was the root cause of DCM, all of the dogs within the study would have been fed a grain-free diet. Instead, less than half of them had been exposed to grain-free dog food brands.
Who knows if this whole grain-free debate is a conspiracy or not. What we know for sure, though, is that it is impossible to say that the root cause of DCM is grain-free dog food. Just as it does from the past, research of today still points to genetics and canine breed as the true cause of canine dilated cardiomyopathy.