Grain free food discussion on current concerns

Aru

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Just shooting a quick post on here because I don't know if how well opening this discussion up will go...but I'm curious.

Grainfree dog food.
What are peoples thoughts?
Has the news of the DCM and heart failure risk changed anyone from these food?

Or is it a wait and see time to see if theres also some genetic links and other issues as well as the foods implicated with causing potential taurine deficiencies in certain dogs.

How do people feel about the fact that these products have not been recalled despite the reported deaths from longterm use?

Has this issue reached the Uk properly yet? It's been gaining momentum in the states,mostly as the fda have been pushed into investigating because of the number of dogs coming to cardiologists with this specific type of heart failure in breeds its not usually seen in. Its just starting to be spoken about more here in oz...

https://www.americanveterinarian.co...between-grainfree-dog-foods-and-heart-disease

http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2018/12/ev...-diets-associated-with-heart-disease-in-dogs/
 
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ester

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I'm curious too, I've only really seen people stateside discussing it but am not that active on any dog groups, so just following really!
 

Cinnamontoast

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This has passed me by, I must say. I only use kibble occasionally. I’ve fed raw for a long time, plus dog-friendly table scraps.

I would never feed a supermarket grain heavy food and the amount of people who tell me the anecdotes of persistent ear infections disappearing once grain has been eliminated is huge, not to mention the amount of allergy tests which come back with grain being the culprit (springer forum, mostly, I’m not sure everyone knows how to clean their floppy ears!)
 
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JennBags

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It's passed me by too. We feed canagan as the dog gets on well with it, and I thought it was supposed to be healthy. The articles make it sound as though it is only certain breeds that it affects, but doesn't specify beyond the golden retrievers that are the ones that appear to be taurine deficient.
 

vallin

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To me, all this says is that proper research is needed into all dog food, but as that doesn't make money I don't see it happening. They are also hammering up the grain-free element and ignoring whatever the 'exotic meat' component of the diet it. I'd be interested to know some specific food examples as my suspicion is that what we think of as grain-free foods is very different to the American BEG diets 🤷
 

planete

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I feed grain free and, since becoming aware of the issue, have double checked kibble ingredients to make sure the protein content comes mainly from good meat sources (over 80%) and the pea content is below 5%. We need to know more really.
 

Goldenstar

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I have mine on Canagan and they are all doing so well I would need to trust and understand the sources more to change as the healthy long living dogs are really the important thing you need to see .
 
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I've been aware of it for a couple of years mostly because I am on golden retriever groups on FB. Quarrie's has had several diet changes due to anal gland problems and company such as Burns who are aware and doing something about it. I've had talks with several pet food companies about it.

The research always states more 'boutique' brands which is very woolly (having found nasties in certain pet foods in the past I understand why the woolliness!) so I wonder if its smaller companies. I have always wondered why peas are so prevalent in some brands, being a major allergen apart from anything else.
 

Aru

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There's a group on facebook called Taurine deficient(nutritional) dilated cardiomyopathy, definitely an American bias but also helpful for the clinical cases and they have information on nutrition in their units list.

They are adding the breeds to the list as the cardiac echocardiograms are confirming the disease in both symptomatic and asymptomatic dogs....and also reporting what food the dogs are on....and if the heart scans are clear they also report those as well in an attempt to build a better clinical picture. On this site -309 diagnosed in DCM and 55 deaths..confirmed.

FDA will have data submitted from there as well.

Personally, I would advise against Grainfree feeding at this point...and advised anyone currently on this feeding plan to join that group.This doesnt appear to be just a Taurine issue some are coming back with normal levels..but the nutritional link should also not be ignored until the exact cause can be found. I'm not going to write the exact foods on here...but I see several are worldwide brands,some that are sold in the UK I would have previously considered as very high-quality foods implicated, with dogs confirmed in DCM....and the numbers are growing. I have no intention of naming them on a public forum as I suspect that may land HHO in trouble.
 
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amymay

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It’s sort of been on my radar as have always fed grain free, good quality (I thought) kibble.

However I too have moved to raw feeding because of allergies and anal gland issues. And the dog is doing really well.

But it’s certainly interesting.
 

Clodagh

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Surely, raw feeders also feed grain free? I can't see a raw dog being fed wheat?
Ours are on a grain free kibble but have lots of chicken's layers pellets and spilt grain when out so I don't know why I bother.
It seems most unlikely that dogs have evolved to eat wheat or grains? I understand they would eat offal with contents in - ours still do (gross) but whereas I see the point that human's digest barley better than wheat as it is an older grain dogs surely would not need to evolve around anything like that?
 
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Clodagh-it looks as though its the increased use of legumes instead in these diets that might be causing the issues, along with a possible genetic susceptibility (and everything has a genetic susceptibility pretty much). It may be that these diets lack taurine (and some companies are additionally supplementing with taurine) or that the legumes interfere with taurine absorption/uptake etc. So its not that the dogs are fed grain free as such, its that the grain free diets aren't formulated right for dogs.
 

Aru

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Not formulated correctly it would appear and no longterm feeding trials were done before being the foods were mass produced and sold...This is scarily not dissimilar to how they found out about the cat heart issue in dry foods before taurine became heavily supplemented in the 80's as it happens....that became apparent when young animals started dying of HCM as well.

Which exact portion is causing the issues isn't immediately clear. Legumes do seem to be a big suspicion...but not all the affected dogs are coming back with low taurine which is unusual. Have a look at the chart I mentioned on facebook. There's a LOT of foods throwing up these issues including some raw premade foods and homemade, though much lower numbers than the popular brands.

Also, dogs can digest grains, they produce the enzymes for breakdown of starch just not in their saliva...lower intestines and pancreas. They did a study on it recently showing the differences between dogs and wolves I believe...we essentially genetically modified them to thrive scavenging around us...and one of the mods essentially is they can cope with grains if they are cooked or denatured first.
 
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ester

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Clodagh there is interesting research with regards to the number of copies of an amylase gene in canids, including different breeds of domesticated dogs re. their evolution to be able to eat grain as agriculture spread.
 

Clodagh

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Clodagh there is interesting research with regards to the number of copies of an amylase gene in canids, including different breeds of domesticated dogs re. their evolution to be able to eat grain as agriculture spread.
Isn't nature clever!
 

Clodagh

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I have just gone and looked at MWH and the cheaper one, that I have just put the dogs on, does contain peas at somewhere above 4% and below 12% (so quite a bit actually). The higher meat ones contain chick pea flour in small quantities. I may put them back on the more expensive when they have finished this lot in that case. Interesting.
My OH thinks I'm nuts as when he had the working terriers they all lived on Valumix at £10 a bag and seemed right as rain!
 

Cinnamontoast

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I’m going to venture an opinion that pea flour is used as a-shock, horror-cheap filler in response to the grain free backlash. I know a fish based brand massively increased their pea content at a time when people were querying the grain content. As per, not enough research has been done, so fire fighting instead of preventative measures.

I imagine most pet food companies sponsor the studies we see and it’s not in their interest to investigate some of the ingredients they’ve merrily shoved in, although with owners now making serious queries, they’re going to and to be fair, some have started.

I remember reading ingredients years ago and seeing mistletoe included. It just sealed my determination to avoid feeding something with dubious origins. Saying that, god knows what antibiotics etc the raw food I feed has in it. The only ‘safe’ food might be the wild rabbit/venison my lot get.
 

Aru

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It was the Chinese melamine contamination issue that sort of set off a lot of the grain-free movement though. Not that it was proven that dogs cannot digest grains.

Grain from china was deliberately contaminated with that chemical and caused massive issues and recalls of dog food at the time. Melamine bulks your protein levels but is cheap and easy to produce as its an industrial chemical...and it can cause kidney failure when consumed at certain levels. Incidentally, they snuck it into MILK in China as well at the time including baby milk and killed several babies as well which is why so many chinese now buy their baby milk from outside sources. Loss of faith in the home produced stuff..understandably enough.

Because the grain component of the diet was implicated in multiple deaths and recalls issues etc the Grain-free movement in pet foods sort of took off to a much bigger level after as consumers lost faith in the bigger brands...as those recalled their foods and were affected by the supplier contamination issue.

Business thrives when there is fear and there was a vacumn in the market for an alternative..so a whole new marketing campaign was started selling these foods. However...protein from meat is expensive and there still needs to be fiber etc provided to make a complete food so alternative sources to the grains had to be found...leading to the likes of legumes peas being used at higher levels in the foods where they had never been really used before. Corn,maize barley etc is cheaper and has been a longterm source in the past.

It's not obligatory to prove your dog food is safe long term before you sell it you see...it needs to meet a minimum standard to be labeled complete but you don't have to feed it to dogs to do that...just have the chemical components present tested...not how they interact together etc

BUT without food trials, no one can know the longterm effects of these sort of changes....but it would appear we are now discovering them.

At least in my opinion anyway.
 
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blackcob

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I'm also waiting to join the group and very interested to see how this unfolds. I feed pre-prepared raw and a 'premium' kibble, both of which contain peas/pea protein between 5 and 10%.

However, being a bit hamstrung by a chronic pancreatitis dog and needing to keep low fat as well some of these formulations necessarily contain brown rice and most treats in the house now are wheat based Bonio style biscuits which I would have frowned on back in the day. It'd be too much to ask for a formula for how much grain is needed to negate the legume component...? :p
 

Aru

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I'm also waiting to join the group and very interested to see how this unfolds. I feed pre-prepared raw and a 'premium' kibble, both of which contain peas/pea protein between 5 and 10%.

However, being a bit hamstrung by a chronic pancreatitis dog and needing to keep low fat as well some of these formulations necessarily contain brown rice and most treats in the house now are wheat based Bonio style biscuits which I would have frowned on back in the day. It'd be too much to ask for a formula for how much grain is needed to negate the legume component...? :p

If I knew the answer to that I could make my millions :p
The issue is the cardiologists FDA etc haven't managed to figure out exactly why this issue is occurring...only that there's a very suspicious trigger to diet linked in and, as usual, not all the animals are following the same pattern.
But it isn't normal for this level of young dogs of such a variety of breeds to be presenting in acute heart failure from DCM and when its multiples from the same house who aren't genetically related all sorts of alarm bells have slowly started ringing....and have kept ringing as more appear over time...

It may also be genetic but the foods appear to be the trigger...and in some cases moving to a basically "normal" food from the big brands is causing a reversal of the disease, when it was caught early enough...

The other issue is there are a lot of foods on the list and plenty of dogs are still fine despite the foods they are being fed causing issues for others....

these guys explain it significantly better then I can of course.
http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/11/dcm-update/

and a better breakdown with more actual science and papers linked in.
https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.253.11.1390
 
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Clodagh

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Trouble is, if I feed my dogs something that has grain in, they get scurfy coats. But they from clearing the yard at harvest!?
 

Cinnamontoast

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Trouble is, if I feed my dogs something that has grain in, they get scurfy coats. But they from clearing the yard at harvest!?
I think this is the issue most owners who investigate food are concerned about, it’s either skin or ear issues, sometimes paw chewing. Have you tried adding oil?
 

Thistle

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From the little bit of reading I've done it seems the high starch content in some grain free foods is to blame. If this is the case then surely feeding the more premium products with a higher meat content is the answer?

I'm constantly looking at dog foods, I probably pay far more attention to what I feed my dogs than what I eat myself. I'd love to feed raw but lack storage space and the confidence to provide a balanced diet. Maybe I just need a freezer in the garage and just get on with it. There is a decent raw food supplier nearby who will help me through the process. They also deliver locally Clodagh if you were interested.

I can't get my head round the idea of feeding raw mince of 'human grade meat' Dogs have good teeth so surely large food and chunks is good.
 
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I've known about this since July last year & nothing has changed! There is still no evidence to support the claims that grain free food is the cause... in fact, whoever is making these claims isn't even sure of the possible cause! Is it grain free, is it legumes, is it exotic meat protein or genetics? There have been no controlled studies done (this would take several years & 100's of dogs)

You have to remember, this is the USA & politics work differently. This taken from Aru's post above just about sums it up for me "and in some cases moving to a basically "normal" food from the big brands is causing a reversal of the disease"

The Big Brands don't like the fact that they are losing sales to the niche, grain free, manufacturers.

For me it's a non story, scaremongering for business sake & until there is empirical evidence that grain free is negatively affecting my dogs I'll continue to feed the same (grain free) I've been feeding for a long time!

Worth reading the link below...

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1902785886410381&id=211410022214651
 
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I've known about this since July last year & nothing has changed!
from July to now is no time at all. and I don't hold that the big pet food companies are evil, they will have at least carried out feed trials. why are people not criticising the smaller companies for bandwagon jumping to make money from pet owners? do you think they sprung up from the goodness of their hearts? no, they make money-and they make money from the bare minimum of research and testing. Makes them worse in my book.

Its not scaremongering for the sake of it, its been rumbling round for the last few years but data gathering from pets takes a lot of time and isn't easy to build rigorous retrospective studies.

interesting table Aru! A couple of feeds I have looked at but not fed.
 
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