Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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Took Maggie to the vet today and the vet told us to stop feeding her grain free foods/so called healthy foods because of the following issue that could develop: Dilated Cardiomyopathy: a potentially fatal disease. The only foods she recommended, also recommended by the WSAVA (worlds small animal veterinary association) are the following: Royal Canin, Science Diet, Purina Proplan. All other brands of foods they say are Boutique brands, Exotic proteins, and Grain Free foods. The Other brands of foods apparently have not been properly tested and there seems to be a problem for the animal with a poor absorption or blocking of nutrients. The information from the vet also states that food allergies are uncommon.
We have had several dogs and one cat that had allergenic reactions to regular food. Maggie had a skin irritation and since changing to a grain free /fish diet, her skin has cleared up and she does not lick as much. I'm wondering if anyone else out there has heard of this condition. It also seems weird that there are only three brands approved. Also, the vet said that these foods would also be a prescription food.
Any input and/or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Dave & Maggie
22 August 2008
The main culprit in these diets appears to be the pea protein including lentils and chickpeas. In order to make a food grain free some companies increased the use of these legumes to bind the food together. The problem with this is that dogs are carnivores and require more meat as their protein source because plant proteins do not contain taurine which is an amino acid that the heart muscle needs to function. Not all dog food companies add taurine to their diets although since this study came out more are doing it now.
Your vet is right that not all pet food companies balance food properly; many do not even have a nutritionist on staff and do not do their own feeding trials so sometimes the ingredient list looks good but micronutrients are missing. If you like to feed a more natural food I do like Fromm which has been around a long time (but avoid the lamb and lentil diet) and Purina Pro Plan has some good diets without byproducts but you need to look at the ingredients list. I like the Sensitive Skin and Stomach salmon and rice diet and have fed that to my own dogs. I tend to change brands and formulas to give a variety.
Some dogs are allergic to corn and wheat but are able to eat rice/barley/oats/quinoa and if you really want grain free consider one with potatoes which I think is safer than the lentil based diets. Some peas in a diet may be okay but too many seems to be the problem. They are still trying to investigate the link between the pea-based diets and actual heart failure/DCM since not all dogs eating these diets go into heart failure. I have personally had a few clients with dogs eating these foods develop DCM and die at very young ages which is sad if it was preventable. My dogs used to eat grain free and I stopped feeding any diets with high pea protein just to be on the safe side.
Wheee! Thank you Dr. Pam, it is SO PAWESOME to have your feedback on this one. DCM and grain-free diets are such a tricky thing these days. I just spoke to someone whose pup is on DCM medication that I believe they said costs something like $100 a month! I'm with you, if I'm going to feed kibble I'd rather play it safe and choose something with a long-term track record like Fromm or Victor.
We appreciate your insight as always!