What do you feed your dog? Grain free dog food has become increasingly popular in the pet market in the last decade, as grain and gluten-free diets have garnered immense attention and popularity among us humans. 

While it has been thought that dog food formulas heavy on grains such as rice or oat can cause skin issues and may be a common allergy for some canines, the American Kennel Club argues that the anti-grain trend in dog food was actually spurred on by an unfortunate contamination in 2007 from Chinese imported wheat gluten that ended up causing kidney damage and even death in thousands of pets across the country. In fact, the top two allergies listed for dogs are beef and dairy, and according to New York veterinarian Lisa Lippman, grain sensitivity in dogs is “extremely, extremely rare.” 

On June 27th, the FDA issued a warning cautioning against grain free dog food, stating that an initial investigation had begun of the potential link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and dog food free of grains and high in peas, lentils, and potatoes. DCM is most common in larger dog breeds in middle to late adulthood, with signs including decreased energy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse. 

As the FDA continues its investigation and testing, they are tempering any alarm by encouraging pet owners to “work closely with their veterinarians…to select the best diet for their pets’ needs.” While the disease is still rare and the warning still inconclusive, veterinary-medicine professor Christopher Lea doesn’t see any point in sticking with a grain-free diet for their pet if it was not specifically instructed by their veterinarian. 

Read the official report here.