News & Events

FDA In Brief: FDA investigates cases of canine heart disease potentially linked to diet

July 12, 2018

Media Inquiries

  Juli Putnam
  240-402-0537

“We are concerned about reports of canine heart disease, known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), in dogs that ate certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legumes or potatoes as their main ingredients. These reports are highly unusual as they are occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease,” said Martine Hartogensis, D.V.M., deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance. “The FDA is investigating the potential link between DCM and these foods. We encourage pet owners and veterinarians to report DCM cases in dogs who are not predisposed to the disease.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating the potential association between reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and certain pet foods the animals consumed, containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients. Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and often results in congestive heart failure. In cases that are not linked to genetics, heart function may improve with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification if caught early.

A genetic predisposition for DCM is typically seen in large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. The disease is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, recently reported atypical cases have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, a Whippet, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog, and Miniature Schnauzers as well as mixed breeds. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the impacted dogs consistently ate foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients in their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. That’s why the FDA is conducting an investigation into this potential link. In the meantime, the FDA continues to recommend that changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinary professional.

Cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet can be reported to the FDA’s electronic Safety Reporting Portal. For additional instructions, see “How to Report a Complaint about Pet Food.”

As part of its investigation, the FDA has been in contact with the pet food manufacturers and the veterinary community to discuss these reports and will provide updates as more information becomes available.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Page Last Updated: 07/12/2018
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