Vet Blog

Concerns Regarding Grain Free Diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

July 11, 2019

The Doctors of Acredale Animal Hospital have been closely monitoring the updates from the FDA regarding the correlation between boutique, exotic, and grain-free diets.

Recently, an update was published that named 16 dog food brands that may be associated with Dilated Cardiomyopathy. We are aware that many clients are concerned about these findings. Unfortunately, we don't have all of the answers at this time, and our recommendations regarding diets remain on a case-by-case basis. (Link: FDA frequently asked questions).


Recommendations If Your Pet Is Currently Eating A Grain-Free Diet

If you feel your pet has exercise intolerance, weakness, fainting spells, or an elevated resting respiratory rate please seek veterinary care immediately.

Diet Change

Unless your pet is on this diet due to a specific dietary allergy, we recommend that you discontinue the boutique, exotic, and grain-free diet and gradually change to one made by a well-established manufacturer that contains standard ingredients (eg: chicken, beef, rice, corn, and wheat).

  • Simply adding grains to the current diet may not help as we are currently unsure if these cases are linked to something missing from the diet (grains) versus what is currently in the diet (legumes, meat source, etc).
  • We also do not recommend changing to a raw diet as this may not contain the correct ratio of nutrients and may lead to other nutritional deficiencies or infectious diseases.
  • If you choose to switch to a home-prepared diet, please consult with a veterinary nutritionist (such as in order to help ensure the diet will contain all of the nutrients your pet needs.

Screening Echocardiogram

If you have been feeding your pet a boutique, exotic, and grain-free diet, and are concerned about the potential for Dilated Cardiomyopathy, we can perform a screening echocardiogram to help assess the contractility of the heart. This service will be offered as an outpatient clinic at our Great Bridge location on Saturday, July 27. We may need to shave a small square of hair on the side of your pet's chest in order to obtain the most diagnostic images. In order to accommodate as many clients as possible on this day, your pet will receive his/ her echo report via email within 24-48 hours. If an abnormality is detected, we will also obtain a blood sample to test for a possible taurine deficiency and provide a referral to a cardiologist for a more extensive echocardiogram. If you would prefer to go directly to the cardiologist, please call the hospital and we can provide a referral to Dr. Maisenbacher (Veterinary Heart Care) or Dr. Small (The COVE). For more information, please see the event details on our Facebook Page.

Taurine Supplementation

If you choose NOT to change your pet's diet and decline additional testing, we strongly recommend supplementing with Taurine as some cases of diet-related cardiomyopathy have been taurine responsive. The dose for most dogs is 250 mg per day for long-term supplementation. Higher doses are sometimes indicated for short term (2-3 months).

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please reference the following, or contact us.