Grain Free & DCM in Dogs

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Grain Free & DCM in Dogs

The FDA is using a range of science-based investigative tools as it strives to learn more about this emergence of DCM and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. Most dogs in the US have been eating pet food without apparently developing DCM. It’s not known how commonly dogs develop DCM, but the increase in reports to the FDA signal a potential increase in cases of DCM in dogs not genetically predisposed.

Based on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors


Animal numbers in DCM Reports received between January 1, 2014 and April 30. 2019.


Number of Reports

Number of Animals Affected

Number of Deaths










Dilated cardiomyopathy is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs. It is also seen in dogs with taurine deficiency.


There is no conclusive evidence that any brand of pet food causes DCM.


Are legumes in your foods a problem?

Champion Petfoods are confident that legumes are safe for pets as part of a biologically appropriate diet. They bind the foods & provide soluble & insoluble fiber as key nutrients.



What is canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, which can lead to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen (congestive heart failure). If caught early, heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification


Has the FDA asked any of these brands to recall?

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.


Does the FDA know what it is about these foods that may be connected to canine DCM?

At this time, it is not clear what it is about these diets that may be connected to DCM in dogs. There are multiple possible causes of DCM. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a potential cause of DCM, but it is not the only cause of DCM. Nutritional makeup of the main ingredients or how dogs process them, main ingredient sourcing, processing, amount used, or other factors could be involved.

Should I avoid grain-free diets?

High levels of legumes, pulses or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients may be linked to cases of DCM. Additionally, legumes/pulses and potatoes may appear as ingredients in foods that are not labeled as “grain-free.” At this time, we are not advising dietary changes based solely on the information we have gathered so far. 


Below are links for more information and some of the responses from some dog food brands


 Primal’s answer

Fromm’s Answer

Champion’s Answer

Zignature's Answer