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    1. #1
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      Labradorks's Avatar
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      Fromm and other 'boutique' foods vs. Purina, RC, etc. and low taurine

      I'm following several Facebook discussion groups about DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) related to taurine deficiency. There is one group in particular that has several excellent breeders and folks I know personally. It's a rather large group (10,000 members) and they are pretty mindful. For example, you cannot add your information (dog, breed, age, food, etc.) to the table of food unless you have done the testing through a vet.

      Essentially, a lot of the boutique foods like Fromm, Acana and Orijen are on the list of foods that low taurine dogs are eating. And, it's come to light that these foods are not tested and that people like me like these foods because they do great marketing. Small batch. Family owned. Fancy ingredients that I'd eat. Stuff like that. A food listed in the table does not mean there is proof the food caused, or did not cause, low taurine levels or DCM. The science is not to that point yet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued an alert about reports of DCM in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients (they say, first five ingredients).

      Anyway, I know this came up recently. But since then it's become more mainstream and people are taking notice. Sam is already on RC for his SIBO, and has been for many months. Linus was eating Fromm and was rotating with similar foods with lentils and peas in the first five ingredients. I changed him to Farmina since he doesn't do well on corn. If that doesn't work for him, I'll change him to a rice based carb. Presto is on PPP with one prepared raw meal per day. I'm going to take the warnings seriously until I know what's going on.

      Good UC Davis article from July.

    2. #2
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      Yeah, this is a complicated and scary issue. I fed Winston grain-free food the last seven years of his life, mostly because he had weight issues and the grain-free food helped keep him slim. As far as I know, he had no issues. Not sure if his final labs contained a taurine test. If they did I'd be interested in the data point. I've been paying attention to this issue, as Walter has a slight heart murmur, even though Shih tzus are not one of the breeds thought to be predisposed to dietary DCM. What I'm curious about is:

      1. There is concern that grain-free diets are leading to the low levels of taurine, which in turn causes the DCM. What isn't clear is whether there simply isn't enough meat protein (vs. plant protein), or whether the peas, lentils, legume seeds, or potatoes are inhibiting proper absorption of taurine. Depending on the answer, the dog food one chooses might be different. If it's the former, grain-free manufacturers may just supplement taurine to ensure the nutritional need is met (indeed, many have already gone down this path). However, if the peas, lentils, legume seeds are blocking absorption, a lot of companies will have to reformulate their food.

      2. I've been feeding grain-free Kirkland Domain for 2-3 years, as it's hard to beat Costco in terms of quality dog food at low prices. My dogs have always done well on it. But it's got sweet potatoes (2nd ingredient), peas (3rd ingredient), potatoes (4th ingredient), and potato fiber (5th ingredient). That's a bit scary, even if the science is still out.

      3. My vet is still skeptical about the linkage at this point in time. Without more conclusive research, it's hard to know exactly what mechanism is driving the increase in DCM diagnoses, and how prevalent it might be.

      4. My cynical side keeps coming back to the fact that all of this is rather convenient for Purina and the other mainstream/traditional dog food manufacturers. According to this article, grain-free pet food had sales of $3.4 billion in 2017 and now comprises 43 percent of market share. So they can most certainly take advantage of a panic, and take back some of that market share.

      5. This is not to impugn the work of veterinary cardiologists working on this issue, as it is most certainly a serious problem. But unfortunately they're probably still a few years from sorting this out.

      6. My plan as of now is to switch Walter to Kirkland Signature, which is a chicken and rice formula. It does contain potatoes and peas, but they're pretty far down the list of ingredients. Unfortunately, Costco stopped carrying it at our local warehouse in favor of the grain-free line. I contacted them about stocking it, but was just told to leave a comment card next time I shop at the local warehouse. You can order it online, but doing so jacks up the price.
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      Bailey (2003-2018)
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    3. #3
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      One thing I discovered in this is that a lot of the boutique foods don't do testing and do not have full time nutritionists on staff.

    4. #4
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      i believe I am a member of that same group you mention. It's no joke folks - get your dog off of grain free. That said I believe (just my personal thoughts) it's all the legumes (peas, chickpeas, lentils etc) that's causing the issue though this has not been proven yet. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are under scrutiny as well, but this all started to come about when all these legumes started to be added. I had recently (before this all came out) had switched Niner to grain free (contained potatoes and sweet potatoes - no legumes) but I have since taken him off and he's back on ProPlan. Even my vet said to get him off of grain free.I would suggest to those of you feeding grain free to switch to a food with grains (with no suspect ingredients) at least until the FDA and Joshua Stern (he's doing a study at UC Davis) get to the bottom of this. I personally cannot feed Niner the grain free he was on knowing it could potentially be causing heart issues. Charlie eats Holistic Select Anchovy, Sardine and Salmon meal grain inclusive and Goldie is eating ProPlan sensitive skin and stomach (salmon)

      Nancy
      Last edited by Nancy0; 10-22-2018 at 07:24 PM.

    5. #5
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      Agree! Unless it's life or death for your dog, change their food. You can always go back to something else if this doesn't pan out!

    6. #6
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      My thoughts exactly. I don't agree with the wait and see what the FDA comes up with. That could take forever.

      Nancy

    7. #7
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      I also put Lark back onto a grain-inclusive food. Depending upon what is causing the low taurine levels and DCM, I'm not convinced that just adding more methionine or taurine to these suspect foods will be the answer if the other ingredients remain unchanged. Lark can pretty much eat anything so it's easier for me than it may be for others whose dogs have food sensitivities.

    8. #8
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      That's exactly what members of the group I'm a member of claim - adding more taurine will not fix the problem as the suspect ingredients can be blocking the absorption of taurine.

    9. #9
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      depending how much a scan is, maybe get your dogs heart size measured at next vet appt. I had an army buddy with enlarged heart and low blood pressure...docs said was genetic.
      First time pet owner
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    10. #10
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      also I switched chili off acana grain free just a couple months ago but wasnt because of this...went with purina pp sport...tried true and hopefully tested often.

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