Dogs eating grain-free diets are at risk of developing a heart disease known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). The addition of exotic grain replacers such as lentils, chickpeas, and potatoes in these diets may be creating nutritional imbalances resulting in severe heart disease. A blood test for adequate taurine level is available to identify a potential risk factor in your pet.
Dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM occurs in cats where it is associated with a nutritional deficiency (see below). DCM is a serious disease of the heart muscle which causes the heart to beat more weakly and to enlarge. DCM can result in abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure (a build-up of fluid in the lungs or abdomen), or sudden death. In dogs, it typically occurs in large- and giant-breeds, such as Doberman pinschers, Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Great Danes, where it is thought to have a genetic component. Recently, some veterinary cardiologists have been reporting increased rates of DCM in dogs – in both the typical breeds and in breeds not usually associated with DCM, such as Miniature Schnauzers or French Bulldogs. There is suspicion that the disease is associated with eating boutique or grain-free diets, with some of the dogs improving when their diets are changed. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine and veterinary cardiologists are currently investigating this issue.