An Open Letter About DCM
To Our Valued Customers,
We are a small, family-owned business and stand by our products whole-heartedly. Quality & food safety are our top priorities to ensure our customers and their pets receive the absolute best nutrition possible.
With that said, we would like to take the time to discuss concerns regarding the recent DCM issues with you and your concerns about our ingredients so that we can give you some peace of mind as a pet lover. Read below for in an-depth look at recent FDA findings regarding this matter and what it means for pets.
WHAT IS DCM?
Heart Muscle Disease in Dogs. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle that is characterized by an enlarged heart that does not function properly. With DCM, both the upper and lower chambers of the heart become enlarged, with one side being more severely affected than the other.
While there are dog breeds (typically large and giant breeds, plus Cocker Spaniels) that are known to have a genetic predisposition to dilated cardiomyopathy, the reports to the FDA continue to span a wide range of breeds, many that do not have a known genetic predisposition.
We understand your concern regarding the recent FDA updates about the current DCM study and the potential connection it has to diet. While this study is frightening and overwhelming to pet owners, it is important to understand that it is still ongoing and there is still much to be discovered on what exactly is causing this issue to escalate in our beloved canines. Dilated cardiomyopathy is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds. It is believed to be less common in small and medium breed dogs.
CONNECTION BETWEEN DIET & DCM
FDA Facts & Findings So Far
- Based on the data collected and analyzed 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.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, or the Irish Wolfhound. It is also seen in Cocker Spaniels. It is believed to be less common in small and medium breed dogs.
- Genetic forms of DCM tend to affect male large and giant breed dogs starting in middle to older age. DCM cases reported to FDA CVM have involved a wide range of dog breeds, ages and weights.
- There have been a greater proportion of males than females, consistent with what is seen in genetic forms. The significance of this is unknown, but it may be that some cases are genetic in origin or a combination of diet and genetic tendencies.
- Of the 191 reports with a single primary diet that contained animal protein (rather than being vegan/vegetarian), 31 percent contained more than one animal protein source. The majority of diets containing animal protein included fish, eggs, lamb or chicken. No one animal protein source was predominant.
- In cases in which dogs ate a single primary diet (i.e., didn’t eat multiple food products, excluding treats), 90 percent reported feeding a grain-free food. Approximately 10 percent reported feeding a food containing grains and some of these diets were vegan or vegetarian. A large proportion of the reported diets in DCM cases – both grain-free and grain-containing – contained peas and/or lentils in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as a main ingredient (listed within the first 10 ingredients, before vitamins and minerals). The products included commercially available kibble, canned and raw foods, as well as home-cooked diets.
- Between January 1, 2014 and November 30, 2018, the FDA received 300 reports of DCM (294 canine reports, 6 feline reports). Approximately 276 of these were reported after the July public notification about FDA’s investigation (273 canine reports, 3 feline reports). Some of these reports involved more than one affected animal from the same household. The breakdown of reported illnesses below reflects the number of individual animals affected.
Animal numbers in DCM Reports received between January 1, 2014 and November 30, 2018.
Number of reactions
Number of deaths
- The FDA is still gathering information in order to better understand if (and how) taurine metabolism (both absorption and excretion) may have a role in these reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Past publications and research suggest that Golden Retrievers may be genetically predisposed to taurine deficiency, which is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM.
- Veterinary cardiologist Dr. Joshua Stern from the University of California at Davis has been studying the rise in cases of DCM in Golden Retrievers, including a potential dietary link. Many cases of DCM in Golden Retrievers are taurine-deficient.
Considering those facts, check out this finding from this Pet Food Industry Article:
As Aldrich explained, that means approximately 22 million dogs eating grain-free pet food: 25 percent of 90 million dogs in the U.S. identified by the American Pet Products Association’s latest pet ownership survey. Yet only 294 dogs had contracted DCM through mid-December 2018, according to FDA’s latest update. “This is literally a one in a million incidence,” Aldrich said.
Of course, to the owners whose dogs have suffered or tragically died, the significance can’t be measured. But to his point, it’s still a relatively small number of pets affected.
It is important to understand that the FDA is currently investigating this matter and continues to gather more information in an effort to identify the specific dietary link to development of DCM and will provide updates to the public as information develops. This investigation is ongoing and there is still more information to investigate and understand what is causing the increase of DCM in dogs.The FDA will continue to post updates on their site found here.
The FDA is currently:
- Analyzing cases statistically to search for correlations between diagnosed DCM cases and what those dogs did or did not eat.
- Working with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to test blood, serum and tissues from affected animals.
- Collaborating with Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates (CVCA) to collect case summaries and blood/serum/tissue of dogs diagnosed with DCM to see if there are unique factors that separate diet-associated DCM from genetic. The FDA is also reviewing echocardiograms of dogs who are not showing symptoms of DCM to evaluate the significance of early changes in heart function.
- Consulting with board certified veterinarians in animal nutrition to identify nutritional factors such as nutrient bioavailability and ingredient digestibility that may contribute to the development of heart disease.
- Examining ingredient sourcing/processing and product formulation with pet food manufacturers.
All above facts are pulled directly from FDA Articles that you can find here:
Nature's Select Pet Food
Our pet food is a great product and some of our recipes do, in fact, contain peas. These large pet food companies & vets are taking this DCM issue to extremes by blaming ingredients such as peas, lentils, legumes, and other seeds for the DCM issues at hand. Here is what is interesting though: these ingredients are perfectly fine; however, not so much so when they become the MAIN ingredient or main source of protein. If the main protein source comes from peas, lentils, legumes, etc. – then that is where the issue comes into play. When used to this degree, that is where these ingredients have been implicated into dogs getting diagnosed with heart disease/DCM. Nature’s Select uses some of these ingredients; however, not the amount that the troublesome recipes do. These ingredients DO have a place in the pet food formula when used correctly; in fact, these ingredients are some of the top commodities used in most pet foods in the industry.
We take great pride in our products being meat-based products. On average, 70% of our protein in our formulas come from a meat source... That is excellent for your pet! The problem is when those large companies who take peas/legume seeds and “split” the ingredients throughout the label. When they do this, it leads to the vegetables being the main source of protein for the dog, rather than a meat source which is what a pet owner should always look for.
Nature's Select continues to have award-winning recipes and highly rated pet food by the Dog Food Advisor. Our pet food has consecutively been on the "Approved Dry Dog Food List" by Whole Dog Journal for the past 6 years in a row. We are proud that our pet food has been recall-free since we started this business back in 1994.
We appreciate you taking the time to listen to our explanation, and we welcome all feedback from our customers/potential pet owners who like our products. As always, food safety and product quality remain our top priority for our customers and most importantly, their pets. Which is why we are taking action now to develop new pet food processes that will abide by the new AAFCO & FDA protocols that will be going into effect later this year. Should you have any questions regarding any of these topics, we encourage you to contact us, we would love to hear from you.
Thank you for listening,
Nature’s Select Pet Food
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Check out the helpful links below for more information.
- FDA Provides Update on Investigation into Potential Connection Between Certain Diets and Cases of Canine Heart Disease (Source: FDA - February 19, 2019)
- FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (Source: FDA - February 19, 2019)
- DCM cases: unknowns prove need for more pet food research (Source: Pet Food Industry - February 2019)
- Nature's Select Grain Free Food (Source: Nature's Select - August 2018)