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FDA Provides Third Status Report on Investigation into Potential Connection Between Certain Diets and Cases of Canine Heart Disease

June 27, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today is providing an update on its investigation into reports of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as main ingredients (listed within the first 10 ingredients in the ingredient list, before vitamins and minerals). This update covers reports of DCM received by the FDA through April 30, 2019 and, for the first time, includes pet food brands most frequently named in DCM reports to the FDA. The agency is also posting a spreadsheet of DCM reports relevant to the investigation received through April 30, 2019. All the reports included a diagnosis of DCM.

The FDA first alerted the public about this investigation in July 2018 and provided an update in February 2019. Since then, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has been collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders to evaluate information about the DCM cases and the diets of those pets.

To date, the FDA has not established why certain diets may be associated with the development of DCM in some dogs. In the meantime, and before making diet changes, pet owners should work directly with their veterinarians, who may consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to determine the most appropriate diet for their pet’s specific needs. 

Between January 1, 2014, when FDA first received a few sporadic reports, and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM (515 canine reports, 9 feline reports). The vast majority of the reports were submitted to the FDA after its first public alert in July 2018. Some of these reports involved more than one affected animal from the same household, so the total number of affected animals is greater than 524.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. Most dogs in the U.S. have been eating pet food without apparently developing DCM. It’s not known how commonly dogs develop DCM, but the increase in reports to FDA signal a potential increase in cases of DCM in dogs not genetically predisposed. 

Although some dog breeds (typically large and giant breeds, plus Cocker Spaniels) are known to have a genetic predisposition to dilated cardiomyopathy, the reports submitted to the FDA span a wide range of breeds, including many without a known genetic predisposition. The FDA has received reports of cats with DCM, but, due to the comparatively low number of reports (9 since January 2014), dogs have been the primary focus of the agency’s investigation. However, FDA encourages cat owners and veterinarians to report any cases of DCM suspected to be diet-related. For details about the number of reports and additional information on this investigation, visit the DCM Investigation webpage.

The report includes the brands named in at least ten DCM reports submitted to the FDA through April 30, 2019. A compilation of these reports is publicly available in the CVM Electronic Reading Room. The reports are published as-submitted and have been redacted to protect personally identifiable information but are otherwise unedited. At this stage of the investigation, the FDA cannot attest to whether or how these case reports are linked to diet.

FDA examined product labels of products reported in DCM cases to determine whether the products were grain-free (did not contain corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley or other grains), and whether the products contained peas, other lentils including chickpeas and beans, or potatoes (including sweet potatoes).  More than 90 percent of products were “grain-free,” and 93 percent of reported products contained peas and/or lentils.  A far smaller proportion contained potatoes.

The FDA is grateful for the support from pet owners and veterinarians who have submitted data through case reports that included extensive diet histories, medical records, diagnostic samples of blood, serum, and/or tissue, and echocardiograms. Due to the high volume of reports, the agency cannot respond to each report individually, but each report is valuable and becomes part of the FDA’s investigation.

The FDA continues to encourage pet owners and veterinary professionals to report both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of dogs and cats with DCM that are suspected to be linked to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal. Please see the link below about “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint" for additional instructions. The FDA will continue to provide updates on the progress of this investigation and will alert the public about significant developments.

Additional Information

Issued by FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.
For questions, Contact CVM.

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