Grain free food discussion on current concerns

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https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Arpita-and-Emma-editorial/Selecting-the-Best-Food-for-your-Pet.pdf

How select a food company according to the World small animal veterinary association.
I can cheat and tell who which companies have put the time, money and expense in and managed to follow those guidelines....
But then I suspect then people will be upset at me for recommending some of the biggest food companies in the world... and will say hows its all a conspiracy to ruin the little guys...again.

Have a read of the Units file on the facebook page. Then reevaluate what you consider good quality food and why.
Marketing is a funny thing...and it amazing how much we can manipulate people with advertising.
Could you please pm me the companies Aru?
 

PapaverFollis

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Ok I wasn't concerned because mine aren't on grain free but just looked at ingredient and their food does have peas in... Burns Alert... is it having peas in an issue full stop? It's the only thing I've ever managed to feed without the Sprollie getting a dodgey tum!
 

druid

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Yes peas are an issue. It's not just grain free it's "BEG" diets - Boutique companies which don't carry out feeding trials, Exotic proteins (such as pea) and Grain free.
 

PapaverFollis

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Everything I'm reading says "peas as a main ingredient" is potentially a problem. Its not a main ingredient in the Burns Alert but it still troubles me that it's there at all now I've heard about this. Might have to give Burns a ring and see what they say or ditch it altogether!
 
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I asked burns about this the middle of last year, they are supplementing taurine although that doesn't sound like it's enough in some cases. Some other brands really do have a lot of peas in there!
 

druid

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Some of the confirmed cases of DCM have normal taurine levels so, no, it isn't all about taurine. It's so hard to know what to do for the best. I see Hill's have grain free foods - are these considered "safe"??
 

PapaverFollis

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I'm going to phone them tomorrow, say I'm concerned despite the additional taurine. But I might ditch it. Go for a browse round pets at home and see what I could try instead. Frustrating. And worrying.
 

druid

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I'm currently feeding half raw and half grain free (with 4.6% pea). I've always held a Eukanuba breeders account and am going to switch back to that while I decide what I want to feed longer term
 
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Some of the confirmed cases of DCM have normal taurine levels so, no, it isn't all about taurine. It's so hard to know what to do for the best. I see Hill's have grain free foods - are these considered "safe"??
Who knows? From what I've read there seems to be some link between diet & DCM in some breeds... however, the link itself is unknown (if it exists at all?) I've had a quick skim through the links posted & one thing caught my eye...

Notably, however, some dogs improved after a diet change from one grain-free diet to another, and this finding, along with the differences identified between dogs fed various BEG diets, suggested that DCM was not necessarily tied to the grain-free status of the diet.
There seems to be some cause for concern but until there is provable evidence that diet related DCM is caused by a)grain free b) legumes c) novel proteins d) other factors (nobody yet knows) then there's a danger of over reaction & to suddenly think about junking the food that suits your dog based on what we know now is a little extreme... IMO!
 

druid

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Who knows? From what I've read there seems to be some link between diet & DCM in some breeds... however, the link itself is unknown (if it exists at all?) I've had a quick skim through the links posted & one thing caught my eye...



There seems to be some cause for concern but until there is provable evidence that diet related DCM is caused by a)grain free b) legumes c) novel proteins d) other factors (nobody yet knows) then there's a danger of over reaction & to suddenly think about junking the food that suits your dog based on what we know now is a little extreme... IMO!
This huge spate of DCM didn't fall out of the sky though and the only link between these dogs is the dietary differences. Correlation doesn't mean causation but is it worth the risk?
 

gunnergundog

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It seems to be kibble that is the prime worry, so apart from the suspect ingredients I wonder if there is any issue with the process of manufacturing that may exacerbate the issue with these items? Or is the table below representative of the percentage of people who feed kibble versus those who feed raw versus those who feed wet etc etc? Surely not, or.......? Source of info is: https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinar...n3q80TfVOyzhe_6qP5h9UC-91yRRlvqe09q8pZI#cases
 

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Aru

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Imformation is useful...and the only way things like this get discussed is if awareness is brought to it. This issue had been rumbling on since 2010 and until last year I had heard very little about it...bar brief mentions of taurine supplementation in unusual cases of DCM. Considering ive always had an interest in nutrition I would have hoped to have heard about this earlier.

The amount of dogs in DCM compared to the amount of dogs eating these diets does suggest theres multiple factors present....however given the serious nature of the disease and the potential for sudden death with no to minimal warning signs...its one of those things I do think was worth raising awareness about.

At the moment no one knows exactly what the mechanism behind this disease process is...but the suggestive link for nutrition is enough for me personally to advise against people feeding these diets, particularly as a sole food...

Actually one of the conclusions I've personally come to, having delved into the world of cardio and nutrition on mutliple vet sites is that I'm never feeding one companies food solo from this point onwards and im going to rotate protein sources...as I'm lucky enough to have a dog that eats anything put in front of her. That alone helps minimise the risk of issues...both contamination and deficiency wise..but il admit...I'm way to into this stuff and more then a little risk adverse.
 
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At the moment no one knows exactly what the mechanism behind this disease process is...but the suggestive link for nutrition is enough for me personally to advise against people feeding these diets, particularly as a sole food...
Why would you do that after admitting "no one knows", which diets would you advise against?

All the articles I can find originate from the USA, I can't find any relating to the UK or Europe? It seems that this isn't a problem on this side of the Atlantic as you stated in post #40.... or Australia, or Canada, just the USA.

If I've missed some then I'll be happy to read any link.

Maybe the fact that Europe has higher standards than the USA when it comes to pet food might have a bearing don't you think? (as you stated in post #40)

I'm sorry if this comes across as argumentative, it's not meant that way but I'm totally exasperated by stuff like this causing real worry for pet owners with no provable evidence whatsoever. IMO the FDA has gone way too early publishing this before they had any real substance.

I am no overreacting, I am trying to be informed.
I wasn't directing any comment at you :)

I know I'm a lone wolf screaming at the moon in this thread so I'll bow out for now but..... read the info, not the hype! There is nothing reported by any official body in the UK that highlights an issue..... unless you can find one?
 

planete

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Since this thread started I have decided to use foods with a maximum percentage of named meat ingredients and no potatoes or legumes. I was already adding raw meat to kibble and will continue doing so. I am also going to favour raw pressed over dry extruded. I do not see what harm it can do to take precautions in view of the FDA preliminary conclusions? Let the manufacturers sort themselves out, my responsibility is to my dogs. The fact there is as yet no research published in Europe is no indication of the safety of our pet foods either. We have had too many examples of medicines, additives and other substances turning out to be harmful after years of use to feel complacent.
 

Aru

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Why would you do that after admitting "no one knows", which diets would you advise against?

All the articles I can find originate from the USA, I can't find any relating to the UK or Europe? It seems that this isn't a problem on this side of the Atlantic as you stated in post #40.... or Australia, or Canada, just the USA.

If I've missed some then I'll be happy to read any link.

Maybe the fact that Europe has higher standards than the USA when it comes to pet food might have a bearing don't you think? (as you stated in post #40)

I'm sorry if this comes across as argumentative, it's not meant that way but I'm totally exasperated by stuff like this causing real worry for pet owners with no provable evidence whatsoever. IMO the FDA has gone way too early publishing this before they had any real substance.



I wasn't directing any comment at you :)

I know I'm a lone wolf screaming at the moon in this thread so I'll bow out for now but..... read the info, not the hype! There is nothing reported by any official body in the UK that highlights an issue..... unless you can find one?
There aren't any published studies from the uk at the moment that I could find...but the cardiologists in the uk also reported an increase in unexpected breeds showing DCM on grainfree and boutique diets....I asked on the uk vet boards!... because I discovered the same thing earlier and found it odd.
Turns out my initial finding was wrong and brought be down a convoluted rabbit hole to try and find more info but I havent edited that post as I would prefer people see all sides of the picture...that and I dont believe you can edit after a while on hho.

But yes nutritional related DCM has been seen this side of the pond...the numbers are still low and again there isn't enough exact proof yet to clarfy exact cause and effect on why this is happening....bar that some of these dogs essentailly recovered from this type of heart disease when changed onto a WSAVA complient food..the others of course have either died or are still being treated....normally dcm is a progressive, non curable disease that cannot be reversed...
Occasionally in the past in certain breeds taurine supplementation helped occasionally with DCM...
which is why the taurine levels are being tested atm in these dogs in america...but theres no one in the Uk funding or investigating this on a large scale yet..and its unlikely to happen due to economics so instead we will wait for the FDA to gather and reports as its a larger pool.

Lower population size I suspect will also reduce the chances of proper in depth studies here as well....there was a mention of someone doing a paper and case study on it so time will tell whats actually produced.

Theres no harm is having a different opinion by the way. Its ment to be a discussion and I dont expect everyone to hold the same opinions as myself :) so lone wolf away its not a bad thing!

Personally I'm just sharing my opinion....which is that there is no way in hell I would feed any of these types of foods to my dog at the moment (and by type I mean BEG foods... grainfree boutique or exotic ingredients foods...with grainfree being the food with the highest reports of issues)
Until we get an answer back on why we are seeing nutritionally responsive heart failure in some dogs while on these specific types of foods.... particularily when its a relatively new issue and NOT being seen on all foods....quite frankly I dont want to risk that sort of preventable issue.

I also would not personally advise feeding those foods until we can figure out why this is happening and encourage people to read into the FDA statements so far..because there are safer options on the market..even homemade food(which is know to be a challenge to balance nutritionally) appears to be less likely to cause these issues..theres a very small handful of those cases but its a tiny amount compared to the branded foods implicated.

Despite the fact we have had people feeding dogs scraps, homemade diets for decades...nutritional DCM has been incredibly rare in the past in veterinary....that's why so many alarm bells are ringing....something has changed.

I'm very glad the FDA have flagged it and finally raised awareness,the earliest report I've found on this so far has been from 2010..so this isnt a new issue but the reports are increasing as awareness of the risk increase.
As the awareness has been raised and more people get scans done on dogs that are on these foods.. more subclinical cases are being reported..so dogs showing signs of dcm on a heart scan are being seen before they go into heart failure....and yes these are anecdontal at this point as the FDA is still data gathering..but I dont think they should be ignored.

So far none of the worldwide brands(ll forgive the smaller boutique companies to a certain extent) implicated in the findings so far have done anything about it as far as I can see...

In my opinion if you want to produce a worldwide brand of dog food it is that companies responsibility to investigate and ensure that your food isnt potentially causing harm to your consumers,and yes the numbers are small compared to the amount consuming the food...but its still relevent..when issues like this are reported repeatedly....and consistently involving certain brands..investigations should be launched and the FDA are doing just that.

Ironically the larger brands have consistently pulled foods off the market over less severe issues...generally contaminatiom etc....but I guess thats a company policy thing...in the same way feeding trials and hiring qualified nutritionists to make the food profiles is a company policy thing....but thats just me being cynical I suspect.
 
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Clodagh

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I emasilled Millies Wolfheart to ask them aboujt it and got this reply...

Thank you for contacting us. The scare surrounding legumes and their link to cardiomyopathy has originated from the production of some grain free dog foods within the US. These recipes, in order to increase the level of protein within the recipe, increased the proportion of legumes along with peas, soy beans and maize rather than meat and fish sources. These ingredients are very poor sources of amino acids and so could eventually lead to deficiencies of all kinds when used as the primary protein source in the recipe.

Taurine is an amino acid, it is produced naturally in the dog's body by precursor amino acids cysteine and methionine in the pancreas. Taurine itself is not an essential amino acid but rather the precursors to taurine are, as long as these precursors are supplied in correct amounts in the diet then taurine will be sufficient. Taurine as well as methionine and cysteine are found in good quality meat and fish ingredients including offal of which all of our recipes contain in high amounts and so there is no risk here of taurine deficiencies developing from the use of our recipes.


Grains and legumes are very poor sources of amino acids which cannot be fully utilised or are not present at all. Plant based proteins are often incomplete and are largely indigestible by dogs. Due to this, when grains and legumes are used in the recipe to replace meat and fish ingredients, this can result in insufficient Taurine production in the body. Taurine is a type of amino acid that is important in heart health, alongside other things such as brain function. We only use high quality meat and fish proteins in our recipes, these are all complete chains of amino acids and therefore couldn't lead to taurine deficiency or then, in turn, heart conditions.

Our recipes are grain free and only contain small quantities of peas/chickpeas for fibre purposes in the form of pea husk. As we use meat & fish sources as our primary source of protein rather than plant based sources such as peas and lentils, we can be sure that adequate Taurine, along with its precursor amino acids are present in all of our recipes.


Alongside this, the studies and white papers which brought this to light have all been regarding US pet foods and studies have not come to the same conclusion in the EU and UK as we follow very stringent regulations which provide minimums and maximums of each amino acid along with all other nutrients before a pet food can reach the market.
 

druid

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Thank you for contacting us. The scare surrounding legumes and their link to cardiomyopathy has originated from the production of some grain free dog foods within the US. These recipes, in order to increase the level of protein within the recipe, increased the proportion of legumes along with peas, soy beans and maize rather than meat and fish sources.
If they can't even get this right I'm not sure how much faith I have in their statement to be honest.
 

druid

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Freshly prepared Lamb (20%), freshly prepared duck (20%), dried duck (18%), sweet potato, potato, dried lamb (5%), dried rabbit (3%), duck fat (3%), pea fibre, lucerne, vitamins, minerals, lamb gravy(1%), dried apple, carrot flakes, spinach flakes, lovage powder, seaweed meal), dried cranberry, aniseed and fenugreek, Glucosamine (175 mg/kg), Methylsulfonylmethane (175 mg/kg), Chondroitin Sulphate (125 mg/kg) , camomile powder, burdock root powder, peppermint, dandelion herb, thyme, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage

A randomly selected Millies Wolfheart recipe with two of the suspect ingredients in the first five (and proportions much higher than 4th and 5th if you bypass the marketing bumpf of "freshly prepared" which translates to "80% moisture".

Of course, none of the grain free companies is going to say there is a problem - why would they? I think Aru's plan of rotating different feeds from different manufacturers is a sensible one currently
 

planete

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I have had a good look at Royal Canin and the other foods recommended by WSAVA and find myself hugely conflicted. The ingredients list reads like a chemist's recipe:

Dehydrated poultry protein, maize flour, maize, wheat flour, animal fats, wheat, hydrolysed animal proteins, beet pulp, fish oil, minerals, soya oil, yeasts and parts thereof, hydrolysed yeast (source of manno-oligosaccharides (0.05%). Crude ash: 6.1%. Crude fibre: 1.3%. Crude oil fats: 14%. Moisture: 0%. Protein: 25%.

I have tried to eat healthily all my life and have always believed that the more processed foods were the least healthy. But heart disease is not exactly healthy either. This is beginning to do my head in...

Rotating foods sounds good a priori. But rotating three or four foods with suspect ingredients would probably not be much help so we still have to decide which ones may be least harmful...and I am stuck between science and my personal prejudices.
 

Clodagh

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Freshly prepared Lamb (20%), freshly prepared duck (20%), dried duck (18%), sweet potato, potato, dried lamb (5%), dried rabbit (3%), duck fat (3%), pea fibre, lucerne, vitamins, minerals, lamb gravy(1%), dried apple, carrot flakes, spinach flakes, lovage powder, seaweed meal), dried cranberry, aniseed and fenugreek, Glucosamine (175 mg/kg), Methylsulfonylmethane (175 mg/kg), Chondroitin Sulphate (125 mg/kg) , camomile powder, burdock root powder, peppermint, dandelion herb, thyme, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage

A randomly selected Millies Wolfheart recipe with two of the suspect ingredients in the first five (and proportions much higher than 4th and 5th if you bypass the marketing bumpf of "freshly prepared" which translates to "80% moisture".

Of course, none of the grain free companies is going to say there is a problem - why would they? I think Aru's plan of rotating different feeds from different manufacturers is a sensible one currently
They didn't reply to my bit about the peas being added! I like it as a food, the dogs eat it with enthusiam and look great so I will continue to use it. I may well pop in a bag of something else here and there as well. My dogs have a lot of extras.
 

PapaverFollis

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I'm just (just, it's actually going to be quite hard for me to do but it's an easy thing really) going to start introducing more variety to mine too. Going to try IAMS and Arden Grange (which seemed better on the suspect ingredient front but not WSAVA) and phase out the Burns, got two big bags still so going to use them! And add some tinned meat for them for variety of protein source. I think the Burns is pretty low risk BUT it does highlight that my current method of just feeding them the same thing over and over for ages is probably not the healthiest option.
 

TGM

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It's interesting isn't it, we've been encouraged over the years to choose one brand/make of kibble and stick to it and not feed anything else alongside it. But actually this means if there is any slight deficiency in the diet then the effects mount up over time. In fact, it looks like a safer approach is to do what several people above suggest, which is to rotate brands/makes and not stick to one feed solely long term.
 
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The ingredients list reads like a chemist's recipe:

Dehydrated poultry protein, maize flour, maize, wheat flour, animal fats, wheat, hydrolysed animal proteins, beet pulp, fish oil, minerals, soya oil, yeasts and parts thereof, hydrolysed yeast (source of manno-oligosaccharides (0.05%). Crude ash: 6.1%. Crude fibre: 1.3%. Crude oil fats: 14%. Moisture: 0%. Protein: 25%.
.

thats really not that scary tbh, I expect ingredients lists were far worse in the 90s! I wish I could chuck random stuff in to mix up the dogs' food but I can only really do that with one of them. I am going to try the sensitive one on Pro Plan sensitive. s druid said upthread, even those WSAVA brands that are grain free/'natural' contain a lot of legumes-so have these been tested?
 
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