Obesity rates in dogs double. Silence.
Cancer rates in dogs skyrocket. Nothing.
Diabetes rates in dogs jump. Crickets.
So what does the FDA finally decide to chime in on? Peas! And potatoes, and grain-free dog food, and to announce an investigation to see if there is any link between these ingredients and heart disease. So what's the issue you might ask?
The issue is that the FDA took the unprecedented step to implicate a handful of specific ingredients, and grain-free diets, BEFORE any research had been completed. This has led to a number of misleading headlines in the news. Here are some of our (not so) favorites:
- FDA warns these dog foods can cause heart disease in dogs – WOVK Jacksonville WHAT?
- More dogs developing heart disease, linked to food – Tampa Channel 8 NOPE.
- Dog heart disease linked to grain-free food, FDA says – NBC News FALSE.
- Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients – Tufts University WRONG!
As a result, our email accounts and phones at COAST+RANGE have been blowing up with concerned pet parents looking to change their dog's diet unnecessarily because of the FDA announcement.
Should you switch your dog's food? Given the level of public concern, we thought it would be helpful to separate fact from speculation and reinforce that there is no proven or scientific link to any ingredient or diet mentioned by the FDA and heart disease in dogs. There is no need to switch your dog's food because of the FDA announcement. That said, there are dozens of OTHER reasons to switch your dog's food (too many starchy carbs, low-quality ingredients, use of synthetic vitamins and minerals, heavy metals contamination - the list goes on and on) but NOT because of what the FDA announced.
So what are the facts? We know that certain large breed dogs like Great Danes, Newfoundlands, and Saint Bernards carry a higher risk of heart disease (source: FDA) and that a deficiency in the amino acid Taurine can increase the risk of heart disease as well (source: FDA). That's why every COAST+RANGE formula is high in animal protein to ensure your dog gets an abundant, natural supply of essential amino acids like Taurine. We also know that other non-dietary factors, like genetics, play a role in determining a dog's risk for heart disease. Other than that, not much else is known. PERIOD.
What is speculation? In the FDA announcement, there are several speculative statements that have been picked up by the media (like those above) linking grain-free dog foods and ingredients like peas, lentils, seeds of legumes, and potatoes that are common in grain-free dog foods to an increased risk of heart disease. To be clear, there is NO PROVEN or SCIENTIFIC link between any of the ingredients or diets mentioned by the FDA and heart disease in dogs. We spoke to a person familiar with the work being done in this area and she told us researchers are investigating MANY different hypotheses including links between heart disease and specific ingredients (not just the ones mentioned by the FDA), improper levels of soluble and insoluble fiber, and amino acid deficiencies.
What should pet parents do? For now, you should be focused on five things to ensure the health of your dog:
- Feed a formula that is high in quality animal protein and low in starchy carbs and sugar (like the ones from COAST+RANGE).
- Ensure your dog’s food contains natural sources of Taurine that are above the AAFCO minimum requirement (like all foods from COAST+RANGE).
- Make sure your dog has unlimited access to clean filtered water (here are some tips on hydration).
- Ensure your dog is getting sufficient exercise. Curious if your dog is getting enough exercise? Check out this great website from the Kennel Club of the UK.
- Know whether your dog is overweight and make sure your dog is fed the appropriate amount of food (here are some tips).
- Regularly brush your dog's teeth (here are some tips for successfully brushing your dog's teeth).
As always, don't hesitate to reach out to us with any of your questions! We are happy to help you determine what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to your dog's nutrition.For the CARE+LOVE of dogs,
Dave Knoepfle | Founder + CEO
COAST+RANGE | Personalized Nutrition for Dogs