Dear Daisy Dog: When I mentioned to the veterinarian that my retriever eats a grain-free diet, she recommended that I transition him back to a diet with grains. I thought grain was bad for dogs.
Daisy Responds: Grains are nutritious, digestible food ingredients, and dogs are rarely allergic to them. So there’s no reason to withhold them.
Your veterinarian may be referring to recent reports from cardiologists who suggest that some food ingredients used in place of grains may be harmful. They report that dogs fed potatoes, lentils, peas and similar grain substitutes are developing a potentially fatal heart condition called DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy.
DCM is inherited in some breeds, but cardiologists are seeing it in dogs that eat these food ingredients and are not genetically predisposed, including the bulldog, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, miniature schnauzer, shih tzu, whippet and mixed-breed dogs.
The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the possible link between diet and DCM in dogs. It asks pet parents and veterinarians to report cases to www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov. Reporting instructions are available at www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ReportaProblem/ucm182403.htm