Researchers Find No Definitive Link Between DCM and Grain-Free Diets

A group of researchers found no definitive relationship between grain-free and legume-rich diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, according to the authors of a new article published in the Journal of Animal Science. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) reported cases of DCM include incomplete information, making it impossible to draw any sound conclusions from this data, the authors noted. 

The research group included veterinarians, veterinary cardiologists and animal nutritionists from BSM Partners, a pet care research and consulting firm, who analyzed more than 150 studies for the peer-reviewed article.

The article, which can be accessed here, is an exhaustive literature review regarding the causes of DCM, and the first research resulting from BSM Partners’ long-term DCM research effort, said BSM officials.

"We wanted to gain the best understanding of this issue, so we examined the results of more than 150 studies, which taken together did not support a link between grain-free and legume-rich diets, and DCM," said Dr. Sydney McCauley, an animal nutritionist and the article’s lead author. "What the science does make clear is that DCM is largely an inherited disease."

The article also details published research highlighting a number of other factors that could contribute to the presence of DCM. These include nutrient deficiencies, myocarditis, chronic tachycardia and hypothyroid disease. 

"We believe that further research is needed in order to reach sound conclusions with respect to the relationship between diet and DCM," said Dr. Eva Oxford, a veterinary cardiologist and an article co-author. "This is why BSM Partners has initiated multiple original research projects that will shed additional light on this topic." 

BSM researchers also noted that while the FDA has referenced many reported cases of DCM in dogs eating grain-free or legume-rich diets, the majority of these cases contained incomplete information. For example, integral data such as the dog’s complete diet history, age or the presence of concurrent conditions were often missing. Additionally, some of the reported cases were of dog breeds with a known genetic predisposition to DCM, which further confounds the claim of a dietary role.

BSM Partners is a full-service pet care research, consulting, and strategy-to-shelf product innovation firm. BSM Partners’ research professionals collaborate with hundreds of clients to formulate, validate and process roughly 800 new products each year.


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