Grain Free Dog Food...Dangerous?

most pet parents generally want what's

best for their pets and so we treat them

as best we can we give them the best

food that we can but what if I told you

that some of the most popular foods that

people are feeding their dogs are are

actually causing more harm than good

let's investigate hey everyone I'm dr.

Holmes and welcome to another episode of

pet doc Sherlock where we help people

solve the mysteries of pets and there's

a story going around in the news if you

haven't heard it by now that grain free

diets are actually causing problems in

dogs now let's look back a little ways

and think about just kind of dog food in

general for many years marketers and ad

campaign managers have been really smart

and how to hook pet parents into

purchasing their foods they'll use a

cute little puppy they'll slap a

celebrity chef on the bag they'll talk

about how your dog is just like a wolf

and release its inner wolf by feeding it

this food and all of that's well and

good and I've never had much of a

problem with most commercial foods that

are out there and then this term

grain-free came out of seemingly nowhere

and people started thinking that if I

feed my dog green free it's better now

I'm not gonna bash green free that's not

what I'm here for

I've never really cared that someone

feeds grain free because it at one point

we thought was not causing any harm I

just didn't love that lots of companies

we're getting people to spend extra for

grain free when it really doesn't matter

because let's face it is a teacup

chihuahua really just like a wolf or a

Maltese or a dachshund or a poodle or a

golden retriever you name it they don't

look like a wolf they don't act like a

wolf we have genetically modified them

have a particular breed that is very

different than a wolf so it goes without

saying that if they're different on the

outside they're probably different to

some degree on the inside as well the

other thing is most grain free foods if

you look at them also contain carrots

and various other ingredients such as

potatoes and beans and I'm pretty sure

wolves aren't eating that either so the

argument that it's like what a wolf eats

and it will release your dog's inner

wolf is kind of invalid the other is

some people think that dogs have lots of

allergies to grains and yes there are

some dogs that have corn allergies and

things like that but it's really

uncommon people generally have allergies

to grains dogs believe it or not tend to

have an allergy to the protein source

usually if they have a food allergy it's

too chicken or beef so it's not even

important to remove greens from an

allergy perspective so I'm not really

sure how or why the green free thing

started but it did and it took off like

crazy people were buying into the

commercials and the ads and everything

else and I don't blame them they were

done very very well and the food

companies have been able to make a lot

of money off of it and again I had no

problem with it except for the fact that

it was more expensive and not necessary

otherwise I was like you know what if

it's working for you and your dog great

I don't have a problem until recently

when reports started coming out that

dogs were starting to get sick because

of grain free foods and I don't mean

slightly sick very sick and the biggest

issue was the disease that's occurring

is really really hard to find and

usually you don't find it until it's

been going on for quite some time so

what is this disease it's something

called dilated cardiomyopathy really

long words I'll abbreviate it to DCM

we break it down it's not too

complicated dilated just means kind of

expanded cardio means heart

Myo means muscle and APPA Thea is a

disease of so it's a disease of the

heart muscle that causes it to dilate

now usually we see this in just a very

select few breeds of dogs such as boxers

Dobermans and Great Danes there are a

few other breeds that pop up here and

there but generally those are the ones

that we see it in the most and so what

occurred is cardiologists at various

veterinary schools at UC Davis Tufts

Cornell NC State and a couple of others

started seeing DCM in breeds that we

have never really seen it before and

they started to think what in the world

is happening I've seen several DCM cases

in the last month and breeds I have

never seen before and I'm a cardiologist

this is what I do I've done it for years

and I haven't seen this so they started

digging a little deeper and trying to

find some common thread between these

breeds and they discovered really only

one all of these dogs had been eating

grain free food from the time they were

very little to now and let's look a

little bit at this little diagram I'm no

artist by any means but I'll show you

why DCM is so problematic so your heart

is made up of four chambers you have two

atrium and two ventricles at the bottom

and the heart is one big muscle it

serves one function to pump blood

through the entire body so this in some

dogs it can fit in my hand easily and it

pumps blood through the whole body

that's so cool but the heart muscle the

wall of the heart is all one solid

muscle so it should look kind of like

this it's just like think about a strong

guy or gal if they've got strong biceps

and then they're larger they're more

dense now what happens in DCM is the

heart dilates it expands it starts

get bigger but not because the muscles

getting bigger it's not a bodybuilder

who's building more muscle it's

expanding because the muscles getting

thinner so instead of looking like this

it ends up looking like that now when

this muscle contracts it's nice and

dense it's big it's gonna have a

powerful contraction when this muscle

contracts not much is gonna happen think

about say a guy in his 20s versus a guy

in his 70s they may both be in shape but

their muscles are gonna be very very

different and that's just it that's the

problem we're having a change in the

muscle you can't see that you can't know

that it's happening until it's really

bad the muscle continues to get thinner

and thinner until the heart can't

squeeze hard enough to pump the blood

through the whole body and so the dog

becomes weak and then the dog starts to

enter into heart failure and if it goes

on long enough the dog will die because

of dcn now we don't know exactly which

green free foods are causing this we

think currently that it's foods that

contain a lot of legumes so beans like

chickpeas garbanzo beans soy beans

things along those lines

and and diets that contain a lot of

potatoes as well but we don't know

exactly why this is happening in dogs

who eat grain free food what we do know

is it's the only link we found in all

these little dogs and these odd breeds

that are starting to show up with a DCM

so when I tell people right now is this

I say I didn't have a problem with grain

free food before but now it looks like

it might be problematic the safest thing

to do at this point in time until we can

figure out what's going on and why this

is happening is to switch your dog to a

non grain free food a normal food

companies that I know a lot about and

have done a lot of research are Hill's

science diet Purina One or Purina Pro

Plan and Royal Canin

all of their commercial diets are just


for your dog but I'm not trying to freak

people out I'm not trying to bash

grain-free but I am concerned about my

patients I'm concerned about my dogs and

I don't want this to happen to your dog

and so if you're feeding a grain free

food you can even stick with the same

company you're with I just look into

something that's a normal diet that does

contain a small amount of grains until

we can figure out exactly what's causing

this issue so I hope this has been

helpful I hope you've learned some

information I'm gonna have a more

thorough article about this on my

website pet doc Sherlock comm so check

that out but again my main goal is not

to tell you exactly what diet to feed or

get paid by some company because I'm not

and it's not even to bash grain free

foods because of their marketing this is

just something that we've started to see

that's very concerning that's kind of

flying under the radar that we want you

to know about so if you have any

questions let me know

send me an email put a comment below if

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remember to keep your pets happy and