FDA has confirmed that grain-free dog food may have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of dogs.

FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and dogs eating certain pet foods containing legumes like peas or lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), or potatoes as main ingredients.

DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, which can lead to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen (congestive heart failure).

Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2018, the FDA received 524 case reports of diagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy. Some of these cases involved more than one animal from the same household. In the reported cases, there were 560 individual dogs diagnosed with DCM and 119 of those dogs died. [FDA]

Check the ingredient list on your pet’s food to see whether legumes, pulses and/or potatoes are listed as one of the first ten ingredients, but the FDA is not advising dietary changes based solely on this information so far.

If your dog is showing possible signs of DCM or other heart conditions, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse, you should contact your veterinarian.

The brands listed in the FDA's report are:

  • Acana
  • Zignature
  • Taste of the Wild
  • 4Health
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Nature's Domain
  • Fromm
  • Merrick
  • California Natural
  • Natural Balance
  • Orijen
  • Nature's Variety
  • NutriSource
  • Nutro
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish

Pet owners and veterinary professionals can help and report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.

FDA notes an increase in cases of DCM in dogs not genetically predisposed. Cats have also been included in the studies but are generally more likely to develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a heart disease). There have been nine reports for cats with five deaths.