WASHINGTON: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has named 16 dog food brands linked to reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), also known as canine heart disease, in the last five years.
Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle that results in an enlarged heart.
In a report by the agency published last Thursday (Jun 27), popular dog food brands Acana, Zignature and Taste of the Wild were each linked to more than 50 reports of canine DCM between January 2014 and April 2019, while 13 other brands were linked to at least 10 reports of DCM each.
Brands that were named in fewer than 10 reports were not disclosed in the report.
Of the brands that were named, FDA said: "It is important to note that the graph below is based on reports that included brand information and that some reports named multiple brands."
A total of 515 reports of canine DCM and nine reports of feline DCM were received by FDA in the same period, with 222 of these reported between December 2018 and April 2019.
This is FDA's third report on the status of the investigation into the disease.
Explaining its effects, FDA said DCM often results in congestive heart failure.
"As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen," said FDA in its first announcement of the investigation in July last year.
In cases not linked to genetics, heart function may improve "with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, if caught early".
DCM is recognised as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds, such as the Doberman pinscher, Great Dane and the Irish wolfhound. But many of the reported cases were of breeds not previously known to be genetically disposed to the disease, said FDA in its latest report.
Golden retrievers have the highest number of reported cases, but FDA said there is a reporting bias as owners of such breeds were more likely to submit reports to FDA.
The report also highlighted that many of the pet foods eaten by dogs with DCM were labelled as "grain-free", and contained a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses) or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein) as main ingredients, though FDA did not confirm the link.
"Based on the data collected and analysed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors," it said.
"The FDA is using a range of science-based investigative tools as it strives to learn more about this emergence of DCM and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients."
FDA said further updates will be issued "as information develops".