Heart issues and grain free diets?

Reports emerged stating that some grain free diets or diets containing legumes, a main non-meat component, were resulting in taurine deficiency and potentially contributing to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Which diets have been implicated?

50% of the cases reported were being fed Acana, Zignature, or Taste of the Wild diets. There are 13 other companies listed.

4health, earthborn holistic, blue buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature’s Variety, Nutrisource, Nutro, and Rachel Ray Nutrish

What should I do if I am feeding a grain free diet?

  • For dogs with no clinical signs and appear healthy
  • As a preventative measure, the most simple and conservative thing to do is switch diets until more definitive information is available.
  • If you do not want to switch diets – as preventative measure, schedule an appointment for a physical exam with radiographs. We may recommend bloodwork (testing for blood taurine levels) or a referral for an echocardiogram (ultrasound of heart).

Blood testing for taurine is at UC Davis, owner cost with overnight shipping is $250.

  • If myocardial failure is diagnosed, change diet and consider taurine supplementation
  • If taurine levels are low, change diet and start supplementation
  • Repeat echocardiogram in 4 to 6 months to assess resolution of myocardial failure
  • Report findings to FDA

If you do not wish to change diets or perform echocardiogram or radiographs

  • Test blood taurine level
    • Supplement if low
    • If normal – wait for definitive information
  • If unable or unwilling to change diet or diagnostics are not a feasible option
    • Encourage to supplement diet with taurine, which tends to be safe and inexpensive
      • Safe doses of taurine are in the range of 250mg per day for long term supplementation

Click here to view UC Davis Veterinary College’s webpage discussing this issue and studies being done.

Click here to view the FDA update regarding this issue.