In July, 2018, the FDA made an announcement regarding a potential connection between diet and cases of canine heart disease, summarized below:
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients."
Symptoms include "including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse."
"Taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM."
We invite you to read the complete FDA announcement here: FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease
We'd like to reassure you that our pet foods are safe, and why. This article is a bit long, but we have so much information we want you to know! We hope you take time to read it, and please let us know if you have any questions at all!
There is no conclusive information available. After reading the FDA announcement closely, you'll realize there is little hard evidence about what connection the ingredients might have to DCM—if there is any connection at all. There is evidence suggesting diets low in meat can lead to heart disease, but there is no conclusive evidence that legumes or grain-free diets play any role. There are millions of dogs eating grain-free diets in the U.S. without ill effects.
Why is taurine a concern? Because "taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM," the FDA is investigating whether the amount of taurine in dogs' diets plays a role. It's important to note that neither grains nor legumes provide taurine; therefore, taurine deficiency is not linked to a grain-free diet; however, it may play a role in the increased reports of DCM and its treatment. There is no minimum requirement of the amount of taurine in dog foods sold in the U.S. Regardless, our recipes provide healthy amounts of taurine naturally.
Nutrients are considered "essential" when the body is unable to synthesize them; they're "essential" because they're required in their diet. Taurine is not considered an essential nutrient for dogs (as it is for cats) because they synthesize it in their bodies from the amino acids cysteine and methionine. Fish is an excellent source of taurine, especially cold-water varieties such as salmon and herring. The healthy ingredients in our foods provide taurine, cysteine, and methionine naturally. We test the amounts and provide the results here.
We don't "split ingredients." This is a deceptive practice of subdividing a more abundant ingredient into smaller portions to artificially raise a meat item to the first ingredient, or to make it appear that there's less of a low-quality ingredient. Unfortunately, it's common in the pet food industry and it's important to recognize it. The reason it's important in this discussion is so you're aware of the amount of legumes and potatoes in your dog's diet, and if it's higher than expected due to this misleading tactic.
The FDA requires that ingredients be listed in descending order of predominance by weight; the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last. An example of "splitting the ingredients" is an ingredient list such as: "Chicken, White rice, White rice flour, ... " If you add up the amount of white rice and white rice flour, there's likely more white rice than chicken!
We don't do this; our recipes have varieties of distinct ingredients, each with its own nutritional significance, and together supplying a broad variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients. A quality animal protein is the first and primary ingredient in all our pet foods, as it should be. The next ingredients are either chickpea, tapioca, and green lentils (in our grain-free recipe) or brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and flaxseed (in our non-grain-free recipes). These ingredients are distinct, and none are in higher amounts than the primary animal protein.
Grains are nutritious and effective for dogs. Grain-free dog foods became popular due to the idea that dogs originated from wolves, are carnivores, and are not built to digest and process grains. However, it's also known that, unless they have a specific allergy, dogs have no problem digesting grains and benefitting from their nutritional value. Even wolves in the wild derive nutrition from both plant and animal sources. However, to avoid grains, pet owners turned to legumes and potatoes. Now the FDA is concerned about legumes and potatoes. The truth is both grains and legumes have significant health benefits.
Our whole grains are freshly ground and high quality. The concern with feeding grains began when pet parents realized low-quality "filler" grains were commonly used, such as wheat, corn, and grain by-products. None of our recipes have wheat or corn. We start with whole grains (not by-products) and grind them literally minutes before baking, imparting the maximum nutrition and freshness to your pet's meal. Read more about the benefits of freshly-ground grain.
Food sensitivities are another reason some dogs require a grain-free recipe. Symptoms of a food allergy are anything from licking or chewing their paws, ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, gas, to itchy rear end. The only way to determine the cause is an elimination diet. Our recipes are designed to help with this process! Typically, allergies are to proteins because the relatively large protein molecules are mistaken for pathogens and trigger a response from their immune system. That's why we offer a single animal protein in each recipe. And our recipes are "clean"; we don't include supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and yucca schidigera extract. We think supplements should be fed separately from food for many reasons.
Finally, our recommendations: