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Questions & Answers: FDA’s Work on Potential Causes of Non-Hereditary DCM in Dogs
Historically, DCM has been primarily linked to a genetic predisposition in certain breeds, but emerging science appears to indicate that non-hereditary forms of DCM occur in dogs as a complex medical condition that may be affected by the interplay of multiple factors such as genetics, underlying medical conditions, and diet.
Between January 1, 2014 and July 31, 2020, the FDA received more than 1100 case reports of diagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.
The FDA does not know the specific connection between these diets and cases of non-hereditary DCM and is continuing to explore the role of genetics, underlying medical conditions, and/or other factors.
No. FDA has received reports of non-hereditary DCM associated with both grain-free and grain-containing diets. Most of the diets associated with reports of non-hereditary DCM have non-soy legumes and pulses (e.g., peas, lentils, etc.) high in their ingredient lists. However, it is important to note that legumes and pulses have been used in pet foods for many years, with no evidence to indicate they are inherently dangerous.
"Recently, a correlation between diets with specific characteristics, such as, but not limited to, containing legumes, grain-free, novel protein sources and ingredients, and smaller manufactured brands to DCM has come under scrutiny by academic researchers and the FDA. The use of the acronym “BEG” and its association with DCM are without merit because there is no definitive evidence in the literature. At this time, information distributed to the veterinary community and the general public has been abbreviated synopses of case studies, with multiple variables and treatments, incomplete medical information, and conflicting medical data and opinions from veterinary nutrition influencers. Also, in past literature, sampling bias, overrepresentation of subgroups, and confounding variables in the data weaken this hypothesis. Additionally, based on current literature, the incidence of DCM in the overall dog population is estimated to be between 0.5% and 1.3% in the United States. However, the FDA case numbers (560 dogs) are well below the estimated prevalence. Therefore, it is impossible to draw any definitive conclusions, in these cases, linking specific diets or specific ingredients to DCM.
DCM is a multifactorial medical condition with many proven etiologies and potential causes contributing to the development of the disease. Therefore, prospective studies investigating, not only diet, but also infection, metabolism, and genetic involvement, must be conducted. In hopes of better understanding a potential correlation with diets to DCM, more objective data need to be collected and analyzed, without sampling bias and confounding factors. While determining the cause of recently reported cases of cardiac disease is of the utmost importance, based on this review of the current literature, there is no definitive relationship these implicated diet characteristics and DCM."