Grain-Free vs Heart Disease

everything you need to know.

To learn that your beloved pet has a potentially life-threatening disease is news no parent wants to hear. Which is why, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an alert in July 2018 (learn more here) of an increased incidence of a heart disease called canine dilated cardiomyopathy, (DCM) in dogs and a potential link to certain ingredients in grain-free dog food, many were understandably concerned.

The FDA has recently issued an update on its investigation, so the team here at K9 Natural want to take the opportunity to keep you posted so you can make an informed decision when deciding what to put in your furry friend’s bowl.

WHAT IS DCM?

DCM is heart disease that causes the heart muscles to weaken and reduces the ability of the heart to pump blood, which can lead to congestive heart failure. Early signs may include lethargy, a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, and chronic loss of appetite. It’s important to see your vet ASAP if your dog displays any of these signs.  A quick diagnosis and treatment can mean a better chance of your pup’s quality of life returning to normal.

It is not known what causes DCM, but multiple factors may play a role, including genetics (including breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher, the Great Dane, the Golden Retriever, the Boxer and the Cocker Spaniel), environment, food formulation, ingredients, processing, and individual pet physiology.


WHAT DID THE FDA REPORT SAY?

FDA’s report included a theory that there was a higher instance of dogs that were fed a grain-free diet suffering from DCM, and that further research was being done to determine if this was true.

A significant number of the dogs were found to have reduced levels of taurine in their blood, and it’s speculated that these cases are related to the consumption of foods that negatively affect taurine status.

Identified as potential risk factors were foods that may have high levels of starch including peas, lentils, other legume seeds, and potatoes – many of which are present in processed grain-free pet food – which can be difficult for dogs to digest.

K9 Natural diets include none of these ingredients. Our diets are very high in fresh meat and organs to provide protein and fat with virtually no plant-based products aside from a small quantity of vegetables, fruit and flaxseed fibre.

Results of the study remain inconclusive.

SO WHAT SHOULD I BE FEEDING MY DOG?

Until the results are delivered – which may take many years – we believe the best way to approach your dog’s diet is with science-based evidence, quality ingredients, and a bit of common sense.

Just like us, a healthy and happy dog needs a balanced diet including all the essential vitamins, minerals and fibre. A high quality diet is essential for their health and to avoid illness and disease. While this all makes sense, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between a good and poor quality dog food. Thankfully we’ve got you covered.

Here are the four things we pride ourselves on delivering in all our diets for a thriving pet.

Minimal processing:

While many grain-free diets are highly processed in order to create the hard biscuit we know as kibble, K9 Natural advocates minimal processing in order to preserve the natural benefits of our whole food ingredients. In this way, our diets maintain all the enzymes, essential fatty acids, and nutrients typically destroyed during food processing. Our freeze-dried diets are the raw alternative to kibble with no heating involved in the process. While our cans are heated during the canning process, our commitment to no gelling agents, fillers, or binders of any kind arguably offers dogs the most natural canned diet on the market.

Side stepping starch:

Another commonality in the diets flagged by the FDA in increasing DCM risk is starch-based ingredients. Diets with a high inclusion (noted by the ingredients early presence on the ingredient list) of starch – namely, peas, lentils, legumes, potato and sweet potato – are difficult for dogs to digest. K9 Natural diets include none of these starch ingredients, and our protein source is almost exclusively from human-grade New Zealand meat.

The Instinctive diet:

K9 Natural diets combine the natural benefits of an ancestral diet – that is high meat, low carb, grain-free – with tested science to ensure the diets we produce are nutritious and easily digestible for your dog. Our diets are made from New Zealand whole food ingredients, high in protein and healthy animal fats to facilitate the production of amino acids in the body, which allow dogs to effectively digest and store nutrients.

All Amino Acids in our products are above The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) minimum requirements, and we have an ongoing testing program to ensure that our diets in their different formats remain compliant to those requirements.

Supreme quality:

Our philosophy is to only use what we like to call real meat, sourced from the New Zealand Human Supply chain and fit for human consumption. In the K9 Natural kitchen, you’ll find grass-fed & grass-finished meat, sustainably caught fish and cage-free chicken. All our animal products are sourced from facilities that are regularly audited by the New Zealand Government department, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and have been deemed fit for export.

Delivering finely-tuned nutrition to ensure your pets health and happiness is what we’re passionate about here at K9 Natural. That’s why we advocate diets rich in whole food ingredients that are inspired by nature and guided by science, allowing your dog to truly thrive.

For your ultimate peace of mind, you can find our responses to the WSAVA guidelines here.

You can find more information on the FDA’s June 2019 update here.