8 On Your Side

FDA warns grain-free dog food could be linked to heart disease

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - 8 On Your Side has a warning for dog owners: The FDA is highlighting recent reports that connect heart failure to grain-free diets.

We learned the problem is not caused by a lack of grains in your dog's food. The added food, which is intended to replace the grains, is the issue. 

Dave Soiferman of Seminole Heights owns a dog. We asked him what he feeds her. 

"We use a brand that, I think, is mainly chicken and turkey and sweet potatoes and things like that," Soiferman told WFLA. 

The sweet potatoes are a clue. 

"I think it is grain-free then," he concluded. 

We are told potatoes, peas, lentils and other types of legumes are common ingredients in grain-free dog food.

Dr. Jeannette Bimonte, a veterinarian at the Dale Mabry Animal Hospital, shared some advice with 8 On Your Side.

"I would say stay away from the grain-free diets," she said. "They are blocking the essential amino acids that are needed for the heart function."

You may be able to spot some signs of heart trouble in your dog. 

"Does your dog have exercise intolerance? They cannot make it around the block like they used to. They cannot chase the ball like they used to. They get winded early," Dr. Bimonte said.

If you would like to pull your dog off of a grain-free diet, you can do it but must do so carefully. 

"[You should] have a talk with your vet and figure out a diet that your pet should be on," Dr. Bimonte said. "Obviously, always do a slow transition because we do not want to upset their stomachs." 

You can read the full FDA report on the agency's website.


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