In 2019 the FDA looked into specifically grain free dog diets that were observed to be linked to the deadly heart disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, aka, DCM. DCM previously had been a very genetically linked disease unique to only a few mostly giant breeds of dogs, namely Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and occasionally German Shepherds. Cardiologists in the Baltimore area raised the alarm when they started seeing DCM cases seemingly linked to specific grain free diets and petitioned the FDA to look into the matter.
That list initially was populated with 16 specific diets, but a recent update from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) working in conjunction with the FDA, according to an article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association (JAVMA), FDA and AVMA have further expanded the list to now include not just specifically grain free diets, but what they term BEG diets.
BEG stands for Boutique style, Exotic proteins and other ingredients, and Grain free. Boutique style diets are generally niche diets, very small companies that generally do not follow mainstream quality control protocols, such as published feeding trials, AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) certification, and staffing at least 1 veterinary clinical nutritionist. They commonly use terminology on their labels that realistically have no tangible meaning in the pet food industry, such as “all natural,” “holistic,” and “home made.” Exotic proteins and other ingredients refers to the raw diets and uncommonly used protein sources, such as quail, ostrich, rabbit, and kangaroo. The FDA also saw a particular spike in the incidence of DCM in boutique style diets with lentils, sweet potato, and peas.
The mechanism by which these diets cause DCM is not fully understood, but the FDA currently has observed that these diets seem to generally be deficient in B vitamins, cofactors that are integral to integration of taurine in cardiac muscle metabolism. Taurine is an amino acid that is essential to cardiac muscle function and the maintenance of cardiac muscle health. The best way to avoid these diets? Easy, ask your veterinarian. Contrary to common misinformation spread in grooming, breeder, and other non-medical pet industry circles, veterinarians are not only trained in veterinary nutrition, but also engage in ongoing nutritional continuing education.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail Of Love. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care. Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.
Walk Your Dog For 20 Minutes Every Evening
Exercise outside in the back yard is great and any dog is lucky to live in a home with a yard where he is free to run and play. But…nothing compares to the walk on the leash outside of the confines of the home that give the dog a sense of freedom and excitement the back yard just does not provide.
The mental and physical benefits of a nice walk cannot be over stated as a routine that provides new sights, smells, and enhances the canine bond with his owner. The adrenaline rush and excitement of the walk is especially beneficial for senior aged dogs to get arthritic joints moving, maintain muscle tone, and stimulate the brain to slow the progression of senility (doggie dementia).
And guess what? It’s good for you too! My 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter are even excited to get in on our almost 11 year old Lab’s nightly after dinner “Energy Walk.” My son even readily abandons his Xbox that he got for Christmas rather than miss the opportunity to stroll around the neighborhood with Bernie, gaze at the stars, and take in the sounds and scents of the evening.
Purchase Pet Insurance
The cost of veterinary care rises on average by 4%-6% per year. This does not occur because veterinarians are greedy, but because the costs of running a veterinary hospital go up by 4% – 6% per year. These costs include reference lab fee increase, regulatory and licensure fee increases,property tax increases, tangible tax increases, inventory cost increases…I could go on here, but you get the point. With this increase in health costs exceeding the rate of inflation by 1.5 to double, do the math and one can see that at some point, the cost of quality veterinary health care can become unsustainable for many pet owners.
It is best to purchase pet insurance BEFORE your pet has experienced any significant health concerns that would be deemed pre-existing conditions that would be excluded from coverage. It is also best to avoid pet insurance companies that are owned by human insurance companies. I have seen many reputable pet insurance companies go to hell in a hand basket after having been bought up by human insurance companies. Obamacare does not apply to pet insurance, so they are free to weasel their way out of paying out claims to their heart’s content.
Stop Falling For Gimmicky Pet Foods And Stick With Trusted, Reputable Brands
Every time I turn my head, there is a new pet food on the market capitalizing on the grain free, corn is the devil, and byproduct ingredients are hair and hooves craze. Some call themselves “holistic” diets, although no standard, classification, or pet food watch dog agency has a criteria or designation for such a claim.
I am amazed by the amounts of money pet owners will spend on unproven diets that are usually not nutritionally well balanced, do not have AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) certification, and have nothing impressive about them other than a great marketing department.
At the risk of attracting rants from conspiracy theorist trolls that are convinced veterinarians base their opinions on a pet food industry that gives us huge kickbacks and sends us on lavish vacations, I will advise you to stick with the most trusted diets. Why do we trust certain diets? Because of their commitment to species appropriate, breed appropriate nutritional balance, research and development, and quality control.
Royal Canin and Hills year in and year out fulfill all of these criteria and are usually a great deal less costly than whatever new pet food du jour is the flavor of the moment.
Happy New Year everyone! Make 2017 a great one!
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of subjects and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.