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FDA Investigates Potential Connection to Diet and Heart Disease in Dogs

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  1. LILI

    They may only have to do something about this because these crappy ingredients cause death sooner, through heart failure, rather than later, through organ failure or cancer, like many other garbage ingredients do. Can’t have people being able to draw a direct line between food and illness. Slow poisoning that can’t be definitively traced is what the FDA and pet food companies are comfortable with.

  2. T Allen

    Of course it would have been better to get it approved first but that takes years and people wanted less grains so they had to move quickly to keep their market share. As we all know, it’s only about the money.

  3. Linda Horn

    Low taurine levels were linked to DCM in cats years ago, so it may be a similar mechanism at work in dogs. Obviously, plant proteins do not have the same amino acid profile as animal proteins, so it would be nice to know just how much of the protein in the suspect dog feed is animal-derived versus plant-derived. Any clues as to whether the FDA will investigate any further? I know it took research funded by a non-profit organization to find the original link between low taurine levels and DCM in cats.

    1. Catherine

      What I found interesting is that the majority of the reported cases had normal blood levels of taurine, meaning there is likely a different cause in this case (although like you said with the different amino acid profile of legumes and potatoes that just might not be thorough enough to rule out that it is in fact a taurine issue). So interesting the short history of pet food and how we learn so much through trial and error instead of research. Ugh.

      1. Lynn

        Legumes are known as antinutrients and can block absorbtion of nutrients, not just taurine

  4. Chris

    I’ll check labels for peas in the future and adjust the diet. This somewhat reminds me of the time I figured out the soy free kibble I was feeding was causing problems with my spayed older female lab/sharpei mix. She couldn’t control her urine while sleeping so would jump up from a soaked bed confused. The vet would probably prescribe proin which has some nasty side effects. I tried soy supplements and switched foods and the problem went away on its own.

  5. Peter

    So many manufacturers are no dependent upon peas/pea proteins… as you work to ensure consumer awareness of this issue, it will be interesting to see how it impacts the industry.

  6. Peg

    The lack of taurine in the diet is a large part of the problem in my opinion.
    Vegetable/pea proteins and vegetable legume proteins have no taurine
    Cooking the crap out of everything destroys the nutrients also
    Taurine is an essential amino acid that is cardio protective and protects the eyes as well. Taurine added to canned food is destroyed by the manufacturing process

    I supplement my cats’ raw diet with taurine
    My friend supplements her dog’s canned “cooked” diet with taurine added to his food

    We get our taurine from Alnutrin

    1. Shelby

      hey Peg, where do you get your taurine supplement and how do you know how much to give daily?

      1. Peg

        Hi Shelby
        The taurine I get is called Alnutrin
        The website is

        Have been using Marta’s supplements for at least 10 years now. Her taurine comes from Japan

        I do 1/8 tsp once daily mixed in raw/wet food for each of my 6 cats. I have 4 enormous Maine Coon rescues and 2 smaller kitties
        The good thing about Taurine is, it is a water soluable amino acid. Any excess the body does not need is excreted via the urine. I take 1000mgs myself

  7. Diane Harrell

    Why is the concern only for dogs eating this ingredient…what about our cats, ferrets, etc?

  8. Jamie Turner

    Hi Susan, we made the switch to Open Farm after purchasing the list a few months ago. The ingredients do contain peas though, do you have any insight on this? We want to make sure we’re giving our boys the healthiest option we can. Thank you!

    1. Shelby

      I’ve been wondering the same. Open Farm is much higher in meat content and more of the protein is from meat than other grain free foods, and has field peas- not pea protein, but I’m still curious

    2. Reese

      Open farm contains way too many legumes. Usually 3-4 legumes and very close to the top of the ingredient list. It’s the reason I didn’t buy it for my dog. I wanted a meat based kibble.

  9. Susan Taylor

    The report on peas, potatoes, and lentils linked to causing DCM, does not specify if it is green peas or chick peas. Does it matter? I have added peas and carrots to my dogs diets for an extra filler, because my Boxer seems to not get full, but I have not done that in a while, I turned to broccoli, so I just wanted to know just to be safe as to not do that anymore. I use Dr. Tim’s Metabolite kibble mixed with The Farmers Dog Turkey recipe.. Good choice or not? Appreciate your advice, as I really do rely on your recommendations. Thank You.

  10. Ms. B Dawson

    A couple of things crossed my mind as I read this. Let me preface my comments with this – I haven’t yet read the FDA advisory itself.

    There is a vague statement that the affected dogs “frequently” ate foods containing the suspected ingredients and no mention of what brands. At this time food seems to be the common thread but not a slam dunk.

    What is the total number of dogs involved? The only numbers I saw were the four specifically mentioned atypical breeds with taurine deficiency. The number of dogs affected and under study is important to determine the level of concern. If it’s 100 dogs, that’s not many given the amount of food with these ingredients. If it’s thousands, that’s different.

    If the numbers are in fact small, I have to ask the reason FDA has singled out this health threat when they have moved at a glacial pace on other’s that have affected thousands of pets over years. Could it be an attempt to open up opportunities for companies who believe ground yellow corn or corn gluten meal are acceptable ingredients? Think about what the consumer reaction will be to this. Many will reflexively abandon food with these ingredients and look for other options. How many will follow the FDA recommendation to change their dog’s diet in consultation with their vet? We all know what brands are going to be recommended!

    The other thing that bothers me is the taurine deficiency. Taurine is a heat sensitive AA and doesn’t survive well in the extrusion process. Consequently pet food – dog and cat – is supplemented with taurine to assure proper levels. I would assume if one brand predominated, FDA would have looked for taurine deficiencies in that brand and issued a more selective alert/recall. This suggests to me that other things were going on with these particular dogs.

    I agree that FDA allowed unapproved ingredients on the market, one more failure on their part. Or is it? My suspicion is they take the “give them enough rope to hang themselves” tact, sit back and then wait for opportunities such as this. It is a very cost efficient way of doing things when you are an underfunded organization. The testing is done on the public at large and Congress sees disgruntled voters. FDA then gets to complain about lack of funding and away we go….

    1. Claire

      Well stated B Dawson and I was about to post similar comments but you already made my point!

    2. Nancy

      Ditto! You wrote my thoughts exactly!

    3. Brenda

      EXACTLY! Kind of disappointed on this post, to be honest. Since when do we all of a sudden trust the FDA???

      1. Susan Thixton Author

        Brenda – I was reporting on what the FDA is doing. I did not say I had faith in the agency.

        1. Brenda

          You’re bring the “issue” to life.

    4. Shelby

      I have similar skepticism. Are they talking about grain free foods with very little meat that are heavy on pea protein and potatoes or foods like open farm that have a high meat content with most of the protein coming from the meat? Dr. Jean Dodd’s put out an interesting reaction to the study, also citing studies from 2003 in which 12 out of 19 newfoundlands eating a lamb and rice diet were taurine deficient. She also cites a 2006 study in which taurine deficiency could be related to the lack of bioavailability in the amino acids of meat meals due to heat processing and rendering. Another 2006 study found that beet pulp showed the most significant effect in lowering plasma and whole taurine concentrations in part by decreasing protein digestibility. The study is so incredibly inconclusive, small, and uncontrolled, how could anyone know what to take away from it? All I know is that I work in a small pet store and the number of people going back to Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin and Science Diet is nuts.

      1. Reese

        Open farm relies heavily on legumes for their protein. Look at their pork and root vegetable recipe. Garbanzo beans are the second ingredient after pork. Fresh pork also has about 70% moisture, so once you take the moisture out, there is probably not much pork in this recipe at all. I would say a very significant portion of the protein on the label comes from legumes. (Most of their recipes have about 4 different legumes in it very close to the top of the ingredient list.)

    5. Nicole

      Hit the nail in the head. Thank you.

  11. Terri Christenson janson

    I have started adding taurine to my dogs home cooked and kibble supplement diet recently after my group suggested it. 1 tsp per 50 pound dog.

  12. Lori Guthrie

    Another idea is one thing that is rarely discussed or thought about – how many of these dogs were or are walked primarily with a collar versus a harness. It is proven that when a dog pulls even a little bit it causes stress on their trachea as well as compromise their breathing which in turn can cause stress on their heart. It also reduces the oxygen levels to their eyes –

  13. Memory Armstrong

    Have any of these dogs been tested for Chagas Disease. Chagas can be asymptomatic, so the dog may not show other signs of Chagas. This disease affects the heart and a death from Chagas looks like DCM. It is spread by coming into contact with the droppings of the Kissing Bug which is prevalent throughout the South.

  14. Ms. B Dawson

    The NYT published an article on the 24th about this. All the problems in the PFI and THIS is what they devote not just text to but three full color photos.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I so agree!!!

  15. Brenda

    You’ve written in the past about the FDA’s faulty studies… what makes you think this is any different?? The study was probably funded by Royal Canin or another big kibble company. I’m not buying it. Until the FDA comes out with a more conclusive study, I’ll continue feeding grain free Honest Kitchen.

  16. Ms. B Dawson

    Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM has published her response to this FDA warning. It is a research based, commonsense piece that is well worth reading. Take the time to read through the research abstracts – it will broadly increase your thinking about nutrition.

    Dr. Dodds also appears to be addressing comments in the NYT article, putting them in perspective, something that unfortunately won’t reach those who misinterpret the information the NYT published.

  17. Scarlett G.

    Hi Susan – I purchased your 2018 list, which includes open farm as one of your approved foods that you’d feed your pets. Since this news I am concerned. I didn’t see you mention this in your article specifically. What is your opinion? I contacted open farms directly and was told that the FDA has not reached out to them, however, their ingredient list includes a high legume content (usually second ingredient on the list). My dogs have been on grain-free diets since they were adopted 9-10 years ago.

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