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FDA investigating legume-based dog foods


Pet food containing potatoes, peas, lentils and other legumes might be causing heart disease in dogs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a warning to pet owners.

Citing “highly unusual” reports about canine dilated cardiomyopathy, the FDA said last week it is investigating a link between the food and cases in which dogs have been diagnosed with the disease, which can cause an enlarged, weakened heart and eventual heart failure.

Large breeds have always been prone to the disease, but the new cases include a Shih Tzu, a bulldog, and a miniature schnauzer.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in having an enlarged heart. As the dog’s heart and chambers become dilated, the heart becomes unable to pump normally, leading valves to leak and a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen.

It often results in heart failure, but can be improved if caught early.

Breeds more prone to the disease include larger breeds like Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers.

Among those reported cases, the dog’s diets frequently included potatoes, multiple legumes like peas, lentils, other seeds of legumes, as main ingredients, the FDA said.

Foods labeled “grain-free” typically have higher levels of legumes or potatoes, but it is not yet known how the ingredients are linked to the heart disease.

Medical records for four atypical DCM cases revealed three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, showed low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a possible leading factor in the disease.

Other cases include a mini Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, and two Labrador Retrievers. The FDA is working with the Veterinary Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories investigate the potential association between these ingredients and DCM.

The FDA said it is in contact with pet food manufacturers that make the foods.

The FDA is encouraging pet owners and veterinary professionals to report any cases of DCM in dogs that are suspected of having a link to diet. To report a case, click here.


Comment from Lynn (in Louisiana)
Time July 17, 2018 at 4:56 pm

I feed my girl Fromm grain free Four Star recipes so when I emailed them to get their response to the FDA report. Here’s their reply.

Good morning Lynn,

Thank you for reaching out to Fromm Family Foods and sharing the article. We are very much aware of the industry news and have been monitoring these concerns closely for about a year. We are not aware of any instances of taurine-deficient illnesses, including dilated cardiomyopathy, associated with our foods. Currently, there is no credible concrete evidence to support grain-free diets, or diets that contain legumes, to a taurine deficiency. As you know, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of pets and have been since we first started producing pet food in 1949.

Here at Fromm, all of our ingredients are added to benefit the pet. We truly want what is best for every pet and strive to achieve that with every recipe we manufacture. For example, the taurine presented in recipes will be naturally occurring in meat-based protein sources such as the muscle meat of beef, poultry, lamb, etc along with being supplemented. Each of those protein sources gives your dog the full essential amino acid profile along with the non-essential amino acid taurine. Since taurine is a non-essential amino acid for dogs there is no required amount at this time. However, Fromm is unique in the industry and has chosen to supplement it, as you may have seen. As a point of reference, majority of our dry dog food recipes will yield 30 mg taurine/ 100 kcal on a dry-matter basis, grain-free and grain-inclusive alike, but Salmon a La Veg will yield 40 mg taurine/ 100 kcal on a dry-matter basis. We are always happy to provide the taurine content on any of our recipes as it is measured, being supplemented and naturally occurring in the carefully crafted mix of high quality ingredients.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or if I can help you further. I am always happy to help.

Warm Regards,


Fromm Customer Service Team
Fromm FAMILY FOODS | Mequon Office
13145 Green Bay Road
Mequon, WI 53097

Phone 800-325-6331

Comment from David Herrera
Time July 18, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Our dachshund just passed away this past Sunday, 7/15/18. She died from DCM at 10 years old. We had been feeding her a grain free dog food-Rachel Ray’s Nutrish brand.

Comment from Lynn (in Louisiana)
Time July 19, 2018 at 8:56 pm

so sorry for your loss of your dog David