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PSA - dog diet and *potential* link to heart disease

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by kgizo, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. kgizo
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  2. OboeGal
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    by OboeGal » Aug 19, 2019
    Thank you for bringing this up! This is an issue that I've been very concerned about. Here is a 'copy pasta' of a portion of a way-too-long post that I made over in the "furbabies" thread. (My apologies - I can't seem to tell a "short story" version of anything...:whistle:):

     
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  3. StephanieLynn
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    by StephanieLynn » Aug 19, 2019
    Oh wow, we've been feeding our dogs grain free for years, our big guy is 65Lbs and has been grain free his whole 6 years, he actually started on Taste of the Wild which we thought was so great but he couldn't tolerate it after a while. I guess the next time we need to buy food we will be buying the regular Earthbound Farms food instead. What makes this even worse is the pet owners that have been paying the premium for grain free thinking it was a better choice are now finding out that wasn't the case.

    Thanks for sharing this!
     
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  4. OboeGal
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    by OboeGal » Aug 19, 2019
    Yes, Taste of the Wild was the food fed to many of the confirmed cases of nm-DCM. Unfortunately, Earthbound Farms has had many cases, too - even in their grain-inclusive formulas. I would really urge you to check out that Facebook group I linked to. For the present time, until more is known about the mechanism causing this, the veterinary nutritionists and cardiologists who are at the forefront of researching this are recommending that all dog owners switch to grain-inclusive formulations from any of the 5 brands that are compliant with World Small Animal Veterinary Association guidelines, and which have had no echo-confirmed cases of nm-DCM - those are Purina, Iams, Eukanuba, Hill's Science Diet, and Royal Canin. A lot of the regular folks who are members of the group have switched to Purina Pro Plan and are very happy with how their dogs are doing on that. It turns out that a lot of breeders, including champion show breeders, feed Pro Plan or Eukanuba and have for years, with great results.
     
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  5. missy
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    by missy » Aug 19, 2019
    Thanks for the PSA @kgizo.
    I know nothing about this area but I do know my sister has always steered her clients away from feeding their animals grain free. I don't remember why but she is not a fan.
     
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  6. StephanieLynn
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    by StephanieLynn » Aug 19, 2019
    So let's see Purina is owned by Nestle.
    Mars owns Iams Eukanuba and Royal Canin
    Colgate Palmolive owns Hills.

    I'm finding it hard to believe that these foods are the recommended diets to avoid nm-DCM, I would never feed my dogs Purina and no, I'm not an elitist I just think Purina is garbage.

    I was wrong about the name of the dog food @OboeGal, it's actually Whole Earth Farms which after doing some research I just found out is owned by Purina (bought out in 2015). So we will probably put them on Simply Nourish which is Petsmart's brand as they (to my knowledge are not owned by a conglomerate and they have never had a recall.
     
  7. OboeGal
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    by OboeGal » Aug 19, 2019
    I totally get where you're coming from! I've had a difficult time wrapping my head around this, too. I'd believed for years that those were crap brands. In digging in to the research, though, they've convinced me that it's the best decision for my girl for the time being. They are not necessarily advocating that dogs be on these brands forever; they're advocating it for now because: 1) there haven't been echo-confirmed cases of the nm-DCM in any dogs fed grain-inclusive lines from those brands; 2) in many, many cases of dogs with confirmed nm-DCM that have not yet progressed to congestive heart failure, switching to one of those brands has actually brought about improvement and, in some cases, complete reversal of the condition; and 3) those are the only brands that currently meet World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines. (A link to those guidelines: https://taurinedcm.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Selecting-the-Best-Food-for-your-Pet-1.pdf) They simply feel that this is safest until they can be more sure of causation; right now they're having to go off of correlation, and those brands are not correlated with cases and are correlated with reversals.

    Two of the most important WSAVA guidelines that other brands are not meeting is having teams of multiple certified veterinary nutritionists actually on staff developing the foods, and doing actual feeding trials over time to confirm that the foods deliver the nutrients that they expect them to. (This may be one of those cases where being a big conglomerate is an advantage, as there is money available to cover those bases.) One hypothesis they are testing is that these other smaller brands are consulting with one or two nutritionists who assist in developing formulations that look ON PAPER like they should deliver all the necessary proteins/amino acids and not contain anything that would interfere with nutrient absorption, and to be grain-free they are substituting a large amount of potatoes, peas, chickpeas, and other legumes. The problem is, this is new in canine nutrition - no one knew when they started doing this that those ingredients worked for dogs, and those companies didn't do - and still aren't doing - the feeding trials to ensure that what looks like it will work on paper actually does in reality. It may be that either dogs can't absorb the amino acids from those alternate ingredients, or those ingredients somehow act as "anti-nutrients" that block absorption. We know for sure from history, though, that dogs can absorb amino acids properly from correct amounts of meat and grain ingredients. This is just one hypothesis that they are trying to test. They are being clear that their recommendations may change in the future as they learn more. They are certainly encouraging the other brands to do the things that would make them WSAVA-compliant - including hiring teams of nutritionists instead of just consulting one or two and doing feeding trials to make sure the foods they make actually work as intended.

    I do have to reiterate, too, that before I was "converted" into buying the grain-free and smaller boutique brands, my mother and I had several cats who lived to 18 or 19 years old in robust health until just before the end who ate Iams and Purina Pro Plan their whole lives, plus my first two collies did well on Purina Pro Plan, and my German shepherd/collie mix boy spent his last four years on Royal Canin Ultamino prescription diet, due to severe allergies, and did beautifully. We lost him to degenerative myeolopathy - canine ALS - eventually, which is unrelated to nutrition, but he was otherwise a completely healthy and happy boy.
     
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  8. StephanieLynn
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    by StephanieLynn » Aug 19, 2019
    @OboeGal, I totally get you and you're right, growing up we had cats and they got fed whatever brand was at the grocery store. Probably Cat Chow and that cat lived to be 18 so you are probably right on the money, it's just hard to accept. You do all this research and find a food that seems to work for the animals (and budget) only to find out it could cause them an early death, hard to accept and rather infuriating.

    I hope you didn't take my post as aggressive towards you, it's not you, it's just frustration at the situation.
     
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  9. kathley
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    by kathley » Aug 19, 2019
    Plus one on StephanieLynn's view. I used to work for Purina as a scientist and I literally saw first hand what goes into the the Purina Dog food. From that point on I never fed our dogs that brand!
     
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  10. Rfisher
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    by Rfisher » Aug 19, 2019
    Also wondering what went into gravy train, kibbles n bits, and purinas puppy chow now, compared to the ingredients from the 70’s/80’s?
    I constantly rotate thru all varieties of Fromm. I believe in variety lessens excess/lack of any one ingredient.
     
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  11. LightBright
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    by LightBright » Aug 19, 2019
    Does anyone know the mechanism for why the grain free diet creates the heart condition? Does this translate to humans? Just wondering...
     
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  12. LAJennifer
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    by LAJennifer » Aug 19, 2019
    I believe they are speculating that the peas/legumes is somehow inhibiting the absorption of taurine. Cardiologists are also seeing this in cats, though it is less reported. I switched my cats from FROMM to Science Diet.
     
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  13. Daisys and Diamonds
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    by Daisys and Diamonds » Aug 19, 2019
    ive never had a vet even once try to entice me to buy any sort of food and they all sell the fancy food
    i would never exspect a cat to have peas or legumes in their food as they are carnivores
    im weary about too many grains in their dry food, our cats enjoy wet food and biscuits
    i don't buy the budget supermarket brands but they eat what ever is on special with the exception of a few flavours they don't like
    and they eat real chicken or fish if we are having that for human dinner
    i wouldn't buy food that didn't abide by the veterinary nutritional standards on the label but it does worry me how much real meat is in their food and how much is byproduct and grains
    dogs seem way more complicated
    id always be worried about under or over feeding
     
  14. OboeGal
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    by OboeGal » Aug 19, 2019
    Oh, I didn't take it that way - no problem!:))

    Yes, it is frustrating - I really get it. They're utterly dependent on us to make the best decision for them their whole lives, and it's so easy to go crazy worrying if we're doing it right.
     
  15. OboeGal
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    by OboeGal » Aug 19, 2019
    I've seen some vet nutritionists advocate rotating through entirely different brands - one brand until the bag is nearly gone, then taper over to a different brand for one bag, and so on - for that reason precisely. The reason they advocate for different brands instead of just different varieties of the same brand is that brand manufacturers tend to add the same basic "vitamin and mineral mix" to all their varieties, with just some tiny tweaks to adjust for different size/life-stage. Therefore, if there is a slight deficiency or excess in their mix, it will likely be all through their line, so that deficiency or excess will become amplified over time with any of their foods for the same life-stage. However, when one rotates through different brands, there's a better chance that one brand's mix will compensate for any issues with another.
     
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  16. LightBright
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    by LightBright » Aug 19, 2019
    Thank you for the explanation. I found this. Taurine deficiency is implicated and yes they think it’s because of the carbohydrates in grain free foods, especially legume protein. Fascinating, and I’m definitely grateful for the heads up.

    https://healthypets.mercola.com/sit...ween-dog-food-taurine-deficiency-and-dcm.aspx
     
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  17. OboeGal
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    by OboeGal » Aug 19, 2019
    Like @LAJennifer said, they believe it's related to the addition of fairly substantive levels of potatoes, peas, chickpeas, lentils, legumes, etc., as well as possibly the use of alternative animal protein sources like kangaroo, for instance. There may be an effect on taurine levels, but taurine levels are normal in many of the sick dogs, and just supplementing taurine is typically not enough on its own, even if levels were deficient. There may instead be an effect on taurine's ability to "do it's job" in the muscle tissue of the body. Or maybe some other nutrient is being affected. They really only have correlations to work with so far.

    Besides the correlations with potato/legume ingredients and with somewhat "out there" alternative meat sources, there is also a correlation with dry food (kibble). The overwhelming majority of cases are in dogs that were exclusively fed dry food from the non-WSAVA compliant brands. There have been cases with canned, commercial raw, homemade raw, homemade cooked, and combinations of those as well, but far, far fewer in each category. It's unclear at this time if that is just because the majority of dogs are fed kibble to begin with, or if food being kibble is playing a part. It's possible that the incredibly high levels of processing are affecting the nutrient levels and/or absorbability. The high temperatures that are used to make kibble in particular are known to really denature the proteins. It's possible that these smaller brands, since they don't do the feeding trials, are underestimating the effect of the baking process on the nutrient levels and don't know it.

    My bet at this point is that it's a combination of these and possibly more factors that haven't yet been identified - and perhaps it differs some from dog to dog. I'm trying to hedge my bets with my girl - I've switched to only WSAVA-compliant brands, intend to rotate among those brands, and have gone from feeding her only kibble with the occasional treat to replaceing some of the kibble calories with canned stews with each meal, also rotated among the WSAVA brands, so that she has more calories from food that's more "real food" form and less processed.

    As far as human health, I suspect if the very same mechanism was at play, we would have some inkling, since we live so much longer lifespans and much more often have our cardiovascular systems checked out and have autopsies done when there is a mysterious death. That said, there are quite a few folks in the alternative health and ancestral health communities that believe that potatoes and legumes can act as "anti-nutrients" in the body, especially in folks with more underlying health issues like autoimmune diseases. Certainly, everybody in human health is advocating for diets that are more whole foods and less processed - maybe that is the strongest connection to human health here.
     
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  18. StephanieLynn
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    by StephanieLynn » Aug 19, 2019
    A couple of problems with legumes which I imagine applies to humans and dogs alike. Legumes contain phytic acid which binds to nutrients and keeps them from being absorbed. So anything eaten with legumes is going to be less nutritionally beneficial than if it was eaten alone. Also unless legumes are prepared properly they have a very high lectin content which in sensitive individuals can lead to digestive problems including leaky gut.

    For the above reasons legumes are to be avoided on a Paleo diet. It would stand to reason then that if the effect on humans is that prounounced in a varied human diet then the effect on a dog would be even more so because most dogs who are not given table scraps almost exclusively eat dog food and most often it is one brand over several years. Being exposed to a food rich in legumes over many years most definitely would cause nutritional deficiency and digestive problems in the dog over time.

    It baffles me how nothing is "safe" anymore. Like you can't just walk into a store and buy a bag of food or any product for that matter and not have to worry about adverse effects.
     
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  19. missy
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    by missy » Aug 20, 2019

    So true. I had to stop being a vegan (if anyone is interested read the Plant paradox) and start eating fish again for protein. And as @StephanieLynn wrote it seems nothing is "safe" anymore. And they keep changing the info. So we just do the best we can with the info we have at the time. I know since I stopped being a vegan I feel better. I wish it wasn't that way because I hate eating animals and much prefer eating plants/legumes etc. But I compromise and only eat fish and not other meat. I follow an Auto Immune Paleo (AIP) way of eating which has definitely helped my health.

    Not sure if this applies to animals but all that is written above by @LightBright , @LAJennifer and @OboeGal makes a lot of sense.
     
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  20. Rfisher
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    by Rfisher » Aug 20, 2019
    Very good point.
    My thoughts were originally rotating for protein source, to try and prevent food sensitivities. I have a breed that’s known for skin/digestion issues.
    When the grain free warning went out - i decided to stick to the brand I was on, and rationalized keeping that same rotation, that some are heavy legume, some are grain free, some are not grain free.
    Bottom line - it sucks we don’t know exactly what’s going on. But it’s the same that it’s always been, different foods work for different dogs.
     
  21. House Cat
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    by House Cat » Aug 20, 2019
    The issue is that these boutique dog food brands did not have a nutritionist on board to design the dog food with the proper nutrients for a dog’s total health needs. Imagine! This is the reason the larger brands are prevailing...because they DO have a nutritionist working to develop their foods. It isn’t purina dog chow that is recommended, it is their pro plan line. This line of dog food has actually been proven to reverse DCM.
     
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  22. Rfisher
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    by Rfisher » Aug 20, 2019
    The company declaring whether or not they employ a nutritionist is a good point.
    Whether or not the three veterinarians at the heart of the DCM investigation really have substantial financial ties to Hill and Purina is another.
    I need to investigate further.
    Thank you.
     
  23. House Cat
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    by House Cat » Aug 20, 2019
    There is a facebook page dedicated to this issue. It has documents and research posted. It’s called Taurine-Deficient (Nutritional) Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Anyone can join. You might find the info you’re looking for there.
     
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  24. ecf8503
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    by ecf8503 » Aug 20, 2019
    This!!!!
     
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  25. LisaRN
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    by LisaRN » Aug 20, 2019
    Such great info posted on this thread. My dogs have been on a low fat GI prescription diet for years and we just lost our beloved dog to what they believe was hemangiosarcoma last week. This gobsmacked us because we lost our last dog to this, and the little buddy we just lost had abdominal xrays 6 weeks prior. No tumors, masses or lesions they told us. Both dogs were between 15-16 years old when we lost them. It really is devastating.

    During the years there have been dog food recalls on the RX diet which really irks me that they cannot get it right. As the dogs got older we added RX renal to the mix. I add a homemade 25% supplement to their meal which is composed mostly of chicken, some vegetables and herbs for their anti-oxidant properties.

    Now I am starting to wonder about some of the advice I was given regarding the renal dog food. The vet told me that dogs need less protein when they get around 8 years old. Now I am reading that our dogs actually need more protein as they age, but high quality protein. I will do some more research. My remaining dog is 9 years old. Still acts like a puppy. All of us love our dogs so much. Seems criminal that we have to search and do our own research to weed through what we need to feed them to keep them healthy, and what commercial dog foods to avoid.
     
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  26. redwood66
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    by redwood66 » Aug 20, 2019
    Dog food is a serious problem in our house, or at least it was until I started feeding Taste of the Wild. My Chow has a terrible time with any food high in protein (as most Chows do) and ends up with burned bald spots and bad digestion. He has been eating TotW for about 6 years and is nearly 13 now. I can't rotate food because he doesn't take to new food well. Such a finicky boy, but he is healthy.
     
  27. StephanieLynn
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    by StephanieLynn » Aug 20, 2019
    @redwood66, I really liked Taste of the Wild but our dog (Aussie Golden mix) couldn't tolerate it, he had loose stools. Such a bummer as it is a high quality food :sick:

    Chows are so cute, like big fluffy teddy bears.
     
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  28. kgizo
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    by kgizo » Aug 20, 2019
    So much good information here. Thanks to everyone for chiming in.

    @LisaRN - So sorry for the loss of your little buddy. Regarding renal diets for dogs, just limiting protein is the traditional approach but I’m seeing more these days about the importance of limiting phosphorus and controlling, but not severely restricting, protein. My dog has many medical issues so this past year my vet sent her bloodwork to Hills and their nutritionist recommended the appropriate Science Diet food. No idea if this is the norm or not but sharing in case you want to ask your vet to do the same.

    For all, there is such a thing as veterinary nutritionists if you would like a personalized recommendation. Most of the ones I’ve seen recommended are associated with university veterinary schools and have heard they run around $250-350 for initial diet recommendation and 1/2 that for follow up meetings.

    FYI, not everyone is recommending switching diets at this time. Like many things, it comes down to a personal choice about what you and your vet feel is best for your animals.
    https://www.petdiets.com/userfiles/files/Nutrition Commentaries/Nutrition Commentary_001.pdf
    “Our suggestion at this time is to stay informed and do not change your dog’s diet unless recommended by your veterinarian for a very specific reason. In the big picture, ‘no grain or grain-free’ products have been on the market for more than 20 years and currently are about 40% of the products sold in a $30 billion market. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are at least 77 million pet dogs in the United States, and we have less than 600 canine cases of DCM reported in the last 2 years. Therefore many dogs in the U.S. have been eating tons of grain-free dog food for many years without apparently developing DCM. This may be an emerging disease problem and so staying informed is important.”
     
  29. House Cat
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  30. redwood66
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    by redwood66 » Aug 20, 2019
    I love him almost as much as DH. :mrgreen2:

     
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