Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Forum

Hello all! My doodle currently eats Zignature Trout and Salmon grain free after trying Orijen for many months and him being constipated from it. He has done great on Zignature now for almost 3 yrs but my vet and many breeders I follow are now warning against grain free diets (especially those high in potatoes and legumes) because of the effects on the heart. Is this something I need to be worried about?

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Hi Erin, we have discussed this quite a bit here in the Food Group as well as in the main forum. Here are a couple of links to those discussions:

The bottom line is that no, this is not something you need to be worried about. 

Mainly because the chances of your dog developing DCM from his food are greater than 220,000 to 1. 
To date, less than 350 dogs out of 77 million in the U.S. have developed DCM that may be related to diet. And they still have no idea if it is related to diet and if it is, what components of the diets may be causing this. Millions of dogs are eating grain-free diets and diets made by the brands we recommend without any problems at all. It is simply not true that diets that do not contain grains have any effect on the heart. I would not give it another thought. 

I do intend to put together an in depth post/discussion of this whole thing when I have the time. In the meantime, know that I am not dismissing it without having researched it extensively. 
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a genetic disease that is known to run in certain breeds, (including Poodles, which are in all doodles, and Cocker Spaniels, which are in the genetics of most ALDs) and has nothing to do with food. It typically doesn't show up until a dog is between 5 and 10 years old, and therefore, it can spread rapidly in certain lines and breeds because by the time they know a dog has it, that dog may have produced many offspring. 

It is not all that uncommon for a genetic disease to start showing up in a breed that previously didn't seem to have it. That's how this whole thing started. Josh Stern, a veterinary cardiologist, started seeing it pop up in a few Golden Retrievers. So he started looking at the cases of DCM in Goldens and supposedly found a common thread in the types of diets they were eating. Many vets are not familiar with many pet foods outside of Purina, Hill's, or Royal Canin (not coincidentally the same brands they sell in their offices, and the brands whose manufacturers influence all vets) and that was the case with Dr. Stern. He was also not familiar with dog foods that were pork based, or whose main protein sources were anything other than chicken or beef. To him, these diets were "exotic". So he started looking at these diets as being a possible cause for the appearance of DCM in Goldens. To date, there has still been no evidence at all that anything in these dogs' diets caused the disease. 

But meanwhile, Big Dog Food jumped all over this; their lobbyists started pushing the FDA to release a statement, and they started sending out letters to veterinarians. The teeny tiny number of dogs actually affected was not mentioned. many of the vets, who get most of their education and knowledge of pet food from these same companies, not to mention a large percentage of their livelihoods, took this seriously. Then the FB groups took over, and the rumors and misinformation spread faster than any disease ever in history, lol. Stories of dogs who had died of DCM proliferated, and nobody seemed to understand or care that in most cases where a dog actually died from DCM, it was the genetic form of the disease. Lies (I'm sorry, but that's what they are) and misinformation spread further. We know that people are lying, because there are way more people on FB saying that their dog (or their friend's dog, or their client's dog, etc) have been diagnosed with diet related DCM than the total number of cases that have been seen. I've seen people claiming that a dog was diagnosed by a vet exam, when that's impossible. 

Changing the diet of a dog with the genetic form of DCM will not help at all.

Nutritional ignorance being rampant in this country anyway, these people warning others against grain-free foods do not even understand what taurine is or what foods contain it. I can't tell you how many people have said in the various FB groups that dogs who don't eat grains are not getting enough taurine. THERE IS NO TAURINE IN GRAIN. Taurine is an amino acid that is synthesized in humans and dogs from methionine and cysteine, two essential amino acids. All of the essential amino acids are found only in animal proteins: meat. The amount of amino acids, taurine or any other amino, in any given dog food is 100% dependent on the amount of animal protein in that food. If I offered you a meal consisting of a chicken breast with your choice of a side of potatoes or rice, you would be getting the exact same amount of taurine and every other essential amino acid regardless of which meal you chose; the meal with grains (rice) or the grain-free meal (potatoes). Because the amino acids are in the chicken, lol. 

Well, that will have to be enough info for now, because I'm out of time for now. 

I'm hoping this helps. 

This is a great and concise discussion post, Karen.  Thank you.  I'll probably cut and paste this several times....

There is so much more I want to say about this whole thing. But I'll have to do it in bits and pieces, lol. 

I hope you do not mind, but I used t his on FB!!  It is rampant today!  I cant take it!    I'm going to send it to the news (FOX of course), that it putting this story out there again today. Let me know if you want me to take the post down. I did not link your true name.... out of courtesy but I will, if you wish. 

It's fine to share it, but thank you for NOT using my real name, lol. 

I can't take it any more, either. There are groups of people crying in the pet supply stores. I spent 2 hours yesterday talking to them and trying to reassure them when all I was there for was to buy a bag of GRAIN FREE food for my dog, lol. . 

Its on our local news today and my community is blowing up--  

I do want to add that there is a LOT more info on this in those discussions I linked above, so do read them when you have time. 

Hi Karen! I see the FDA released a warning now! I’m going to go back and read those discussions more thoroughly. I do trust your knowledge but I can’t help and still be scared. It’s hard to get peace of mind right now.

First, you need to know that the FDA is influenced by politics and lobbyists. Second, I wouldn't say it is a "warning" so much as an update to previous information the FDA had released. 

I totally understand people being nervous about this, and we all have to do what we feel comfortable doing. I know too many people whose dogs died from the 2007 recalls (and all that is fact, not speculation) to ever feel comfortable feeding my own dogs foods like Purina that contain known health hazards, like menadione, and ingredients purchased from third world countries through third party food brokers. That's what killed friends' dogs back in 2007. So I am never going to tell anyone to feed Pro Plan. 
There are other discussions here that contain information that is even more recent than those linked above, including this one from the main forum:

Thank you for your concise explanation. I have a doodle and an Aussie. He’s been super itchy, so it was suggested I change his protein. I’m changing to Zignature with turkey which is number three of the FDA list. The doodle has so many food allergies (gluten and grain being the biggies) that we have to be careful and it’s too hard to feed them something different. No congenital heart issues with either so I will give them the  Zignature. You’ve given me some piece of mind. 



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