There has been a lot of news recently about DCM, dogs, and pet food. We wish to help you muddle through all of the headlines and share what facts we know right now so that you can feel confident in the food you feed your pet.
We won't recommend anything we wouldn't give to our pets.
DCM and Pet Food
This week, there were many reports in news outlets such as CBC and CTV about Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. And we received a number of private messages and calls from concerned dog owners.
We are writing to share some information about DCM, pet food, and what we know about the situation. (This is LONG because it's important. Please take a couple of minutes to read....)
Why are we worried about Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)? Because we all LOVE OUR DOGS! And, if I heard anyone say to me "don't feed that food, it can kill your dog", I'd be scared too. I ask everyone to take a deep breath, don't panic, take in the what we do know, and know that we are here for YOU, our clients and customers. Always!
So here's our attempt to help you muddle through all of this recent news.
What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs
DCM is a disease that causes the muscle wall of a dog’s heart to thin, which results in a decreased ability to pump blood. DCM is not new, dogs have been diagnosed with it for over 20 years, and science has shown that several larger breed dogs are genetically prone to it: Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Golden Retriever, and English Bulldog…to name a few. This is fact.
What Do We Know About DCM in Dogs?
Please know that we are providing the following stats here not to downplay the issue but to help all understand.
The science and data is not at all conclusive at this stage. The FDA is looking at this and came out with this statement on June 27, 2019:
"Therefore, we do not think these cases can be explained simply by whether or not they contain grains, or by brand or manufacturer. To put this issue into proper context, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of April 30, 2019, the FDA has received reports about 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet. Tens of millions of dogs have been eating dog food without developing DCM."
This is after a full year of studying the issue!
Please understand that we feel terrible for those 560 dogs (and their owners) who have DCM. But 560 out of 77,000,000 is probably not statistically relevant and many other factors could play in. The FDA started looking at this about a year ago and have no conclusions yet. And there are other factors that might be at play in this as well. Common causes are genetic, however infectious disease (viral, bacterial and parasitic), heavy metal toxicity, chemotherapy drugs, obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders can cause DCM.
So what can you do?
Much of the news seems to recommend switching to Royal Canin, Purina or Science Diet. We do carry Royal Canin and have many people that love the brand for their dogs and cats.
Other reports state that people should avoid grain free foods, and we do carry brands that include grains (and no peas or legumes).
That said, we are not convinced that these are the best routes to go. Especially if your dog is doing well on its current food.
When feeding kibble, it is important to rotate proteins so that your pet gets different nutrients. It’s also good to switch manufacturers every so often and add in some variety with less processed foods such as raw, at least as an add in or topper.
We primarily feed our dogs raw and they have thrived since we made the switch. Our veterinarian is consistently pleased by the great bloodwork results our 13 year old dog (Brody). Feeding raw is our number one recommendation. We appreciate that it is not for everyone.
While on the topic of a healthy diet, it is also important to support and protect your pets tummy and general daily health with prebiotics and probiotics. And choose treats that are low carb/starch, with no sugars added. That’s most of the treats we carry.
Let's Start to Wrap This Up ...
Know that we are in this with you! We love our pets. They are the inspiration for our store and mean everything to us. We have been following this with concern since before we opened last year. We are constantly reading about this, talking with people in the industry, listening to the veterinary community (yes – we very much respect vets!), all to dig deeper than the headlines. We all know headlines sell.
We also know that scare tactics sell.
One of the reports that started the alarm bells ringing was co-written by a researchers that have received support, and given sponsored talks for Nestlé Purina PetCare, Royal Canin, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition (Science Diet). These are the same brands that are being widely suggested as the “safe” brands in this DCM problem. We are not conspiracy theorists … and we believe in science … but we are skeptical. We don’t know the researchers in question and they could be the most ethical people you’ve ever met. So we are keeping an open mind and following carefully. We're happy to offer Royal Canin and we're glad that gives some people peace of mind.
With that, if you are still worried about feeding a grain free food until the studies are actually concluded, know that we carry foods in our store that are not grain free, including one of the “recommended brands”… Royal Canin.
For people that don’t like the huge corporate brands, but are concerned about grain free, we are finding that Oven Baked Tradition has been a good option.
We of course carry grain free dry foods too. Many of our customers dogs health has improved tremendously by just switching off common grains to low-carb, grain free foods. And those that have switched to raw are absolute advocates due to the improvements they have seen.
We appreciate you for choosing to shop with your local independent pet shop. We carry a wide variety of products and are confident that we have the right food for your pet.
Marcia and Rob
Maggy’s Pet Boutique
PS For a great article on this topic, read more about DCM and pet food
PPS for those that don’t know us, Maggy was our first dog as a couple, she was loyal, fun, friendly and smart. And she is the inspiration for what we aspire to be.