As a dog owner, you want to ensure that your furry friend is healthy and happy. One of the most critical aspects of your dog’s health is their diet. Recently, the FDA and the veterinary community have been investigating cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs that are not genetically predisposed to the condition. DCM is a disease that causes an enlarged heart, making it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.

What is the connection between diet and non-hereditary DCM in dogs?

According to the FDA, most of the diets associated with reports of non-hereditary DCM have legume seed ingredients or “pulses” high in their ingredient lists. These include peas, lentils, and other non-soy legumes, which have been used in pet foods for many years with no evidence to suggest they are inherently dangerous. However, pulse ingredients are pet food ingredients associated with DCM used in many “grain-free” diets in greater proportion than in most grain-containing formulas. It is important to note that the FDA does not know the specific connection between these diets and cases of non-hereditary DCM and is continuing to investigate the role of genetics, underlying medical conditions, and/or other factors. Additionally, the FDA has received reports of non-hereditary DCM associated with both grain-free and grain-containing diets.

What can you do as a dog owner to ensure your furry friend’s heart health?

dog food brands named most frequently in DCM cases reported to FDAFirstly, talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s diet and whether any dietary modifications may be necessary. Additionally, if you notice any signs of DCM in your dog, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or lethargy, contact your veterinarian immediately.

It is also important to note that reports from veterinary cardiologists demonstrate some positive results in improving heart function in non-hereditary DCM cases with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification when caught early in the progression of the disease. So, catching this condition early is critical to your dog’s overall health.


The connection between diet and non-hereditary DCM in dogs is still being investigated by the FDA. However, as a dog owner, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and to speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet and overall health. By being proactive and taking steps to keep your furry friend healthy, you can help ensure that they live a long and happy life.

Additional Resources:

From Dr. Alison: Concerns with Grain-Free Pet Food

Questions & Answers: FDA’s Work on Potential Causes of Non-Hereditary DCM in Dogs

Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy: The cause is not yet known but it hasn’t gone away

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Dr. Alison Barulich

Dr. Alison Barulich

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