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Over the last year, there has been a great deal of discussion around the topic of DCM, or Canine Cardiomyopathy, as it relates to certain types of pet food - namely grain-free pet food. To help keep our customers informed and able to make the best decisions for their pets and family, we have compiled some of the most common questions and their answers. 

As always, your local Petsense store team is available to answer any questions you have about your pet's diet as well as provide product recommendations if you are considering switching foods or have questions about the brand and products we carry.

DCM and the FDA

In July 2018 and June 2019, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released statements updating the public that they had launched an investigation into the potential link between certain canine diets and DCM. You can find the July 2018 release here and the June 2019 release here

What is Canine Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

According to Cornell University, Canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a primary disease of cardiac muscle that results in a decreased ability of the heart to generate pressure to pump blood through the vascular system. There are specific breeds that, over time, have become predisposed to DCM such as the Doberman Pinscher, the Great Dane, the Boxer, and the Cocker Spaniel.

What causes DCM?

The true cause of DCM has yet to be definitively determined. However, there have been an increasing number of cases over recent years that have led animal health professionals to believe that nutrition, infection or genetic predisposition could all be factors.

What are the symptoms of DCM?

Many of the symptoms caused by DCM are directly related to either the decreased supply of oxygen or an increased supply of blood in the lungs. Some of these symptoms include lethargy, weakness, weight loss, collapse, coughing, increased heart rate or breathing heavily, and abdominal distention. However, all of these symptoms on their own are not a definitive sign of DCM, so it is always best to speak with your veterinarian if you have any concerns. 

Does feeding grain-free dog food cause DCM?

To date, the FDA still has not found any science-based causes to link grain-free diets to DCM. As they note, it is a complex issue with numerous factors to consider, such as breeds that have a genetic predisposition for developing DCM. We continue to monitor this issue closely and support ongoing research efforts, because our top priority is, and always will be, to provide pets with quality, safe food that meets all federal and state regulatory guidelines. If you are concerned, Petsense offers a variety of other grain-based products in True Source and other dog foods. We encourage you to work with your veterinarian to find the diet that you feel is best for your pet.

Should I change my pet's food?

We recommend consulting with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s health and diet. Petsense offers a variety of recipes with and without grains for you to choose from. While the FDA is studying potential connections between grain-free diets and DCM, no science-based links have been made. Based on the information the FDA has collected, they are not recommending dietary changes.

My dog is eating a grain-free food, will they get DCM?

If your pet is not displaying any symptoms, you shouldn’t be worried. To date, the FDA still has not found any scientific causes to link grain-free diets to DCM. As they note, it is a complex issue with numerous factors to consider, such as breeds that have a genetic predisposition for developing DCM. If you think your dog might be experiencing symptoms associated with DCM or other heart conditions, we encourage you to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.