Note: The US Food and Drug Administration released an inflection point about canine DCM and implications to pet diets on Sept. 29.

Some of the pet food brands named in the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) third update of its investigation into canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and a potential link to certain dog diets have spoken out amid tumultuous reactions from pet owners online and on social media.

The FDA named 16 brands of dog food most frequently mentioned in the 515 reports of canine DCM submitted to the agency between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 30, 2019.

Champion Petfoods, producer of ACANA and ORIJEN brands, as well as Blue Buffalo and Zignature issued official statements following the report, which was released June 27.

Champion stated, “DCM is a serious but rare condition. Of the 77 million dogs in the US, 0.5% to 1% have DCM, and of those dogs with DCM, fewer than 0.1% are speculated to have DCM related to diet, although that is not scientifically proven.”

The pet food manufacturer also pointed out the report, “provides no causative scientific link between DCM and our products, ingredients or grain-free diets as a whole.”

The company also published an article providing answers to frequently asked questions about DCM and supplementary information about Champion’s pet food formulas and food safety standards.

In Blue Buffalo’s statement, issued July 1, the company reiterated that the FDA had not found definitive evidence of a link between grain-free dog diets and canine DCM.

“Blue Buffalo has been actively working with the FDA and the Pet Food Institute, the leading pet food industry association that represents over 98% of US pet food and treats, to study this issue, and Blue Buffalo scientists have come together with other pet food makers to further advance our understanding of canine DCM and its causes,” Blue Buffalo said.

The company also listed information about its dog food ingredients and formulations and mentioned plans to conduct its own research into canine DCM and what causes it.

Zignature issued three statements since June 7 to inform pet owners of the “DCM concern and the current facts.”

On June 27, the company stated, “While the vast majority of our customers thrive with our high quality, grain-free pet formula, we are taking the FDA’s recent announcement very seriously.”

Zignature published another statement on June 28 detailing the FDA report and providing a frequently asked questions section for pet owners.

“While DCM impacts less than one percent of US dogs, with 0.000007% being supposedly related to diet, we recognize that these studies are of critical importance to those families whose beloved dogs have been afflicted by this heart disease,” the company stated.

An onslaught of adverse attention on social media, namely Facebook, has affected many of the brands named in the FDA report. Some of those brands provided responses to individual consumers who had posted to their company Facebook pages with questions and concerns.

Taste of the Wild, Earthborn Holistic, Fromm Family Foods, Merrick and Nutrish each provided responses on multiple consumers’ Facebook posts but have not yet issued a formal statement.

Taste of the Wild on July 2 commented, “To date, the FDA still has not found any science-based causes to link grain-free diets — including Taste of the Wild — to DCM. As they note, it is a complex issue with numerous factors to consider, such as breeds that have a genetic predisposition for developing DCM. We continue to monitor this issue closely and support ongoing research efforts.”

Shawn H. from Earthborn Holistic, a pet food brand owned by Midwestern Pet Foods, responded on June 30 to multiple Facebook posts from consumers by saying, “This report does not provide any scientific findings linking nutrition and DCM. Rather, FDA is simply attempting to gain more information as part of its evaluation process.”

Fromm Family Foods also commented on consumers’ Facebook posts, saying on July 2, “There are many theories on the exact mechanism of DCM and canine taurine metabolism, but this mechanism is undeniably complex and is likely influenced by multiple factors including genetics, diet, and metabolism. However, without continued studies, the involvement of dietary characteristics in the development of DCM cannot conclusively be defined.”

Merrick Pet Care commented on June 30, “As of today, the nature of a possible connection between food and DCM in dogs has not been determined, but we’re committed to working with the FDA to learn more.”

Nutro also responded to a handful of concerned pet owners on Facebook on June 29, commenting, “We are working in partnership with the FDA, the broader pet food industry, and our own Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition to better understand this complex issue.”

Rachael Ray Nutrish, a brand owned by The J.M. Smucker Company, commented to one woman’s Facebook post on July 1: “At this time, no conclusion has been reached by the FDA, and based on the information we have reviewed with vets having expertise in animal nutrition, it is not clear what role diet plays.”

Read a comprehensive summary of the FDA’s third update on canine DCM.


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