Copper the golden retriever testing his skills in some agility equipment. The FDA says a ‘possible link’ between grain-free pet diets and a heart condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy is a “complex scientific issue.” (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

Grain-free may not be the issue: Greater Victoria pet stores weigh in on FDA report

Local pet food supplier says not enough evidence available to link diet to heart conditions

Greater Victoria pet food suppliers are urging dog owners to stay calm in the wake of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report making a possible connection between grain-free dog diets to heart conditions and early death.

In June, the FDA said some grain-free dog foods may be connected to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) – an often fatal genetic heart condition. The report included a list of 16 brand name food lines that could be connected.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Doubts intensify for dog owners, vets after FDA report on grain-free food

The FDA noted that the majority of DCM cases occurred in recent years – in fact, of the 515 canine reports it received between January 2014 and this April – 219 were reported between December 2018 and April 30, 2019, and among them were dog breeds not known to have genetic predispositions to the condition.

But the possible correlation to grain-free shouldn’t yet be a cause for panic, says Lisa Nitkin, owner of Pets West in Royal Oak. Because it’s still only a possibility, not a confirmation.

She emphasizes that she is not a veterinarian, but said from the point of view of the pet industry, “we cannot even confirm or deny because there’s not enough information.”

“One of the commonalities is a grain-free diet, but they’re still not getting enough information from that. Is it because of the lack of grain? Is it because of peas or potatoes? Or is it some other vitamin that’s being added or not being added … or is it even because of the food at all?”

READ ALSO: 51 cats and dogs surrendered to the Victoria Humane Society last week

Nitkin sent out a release to media alongside other Greater Victoria pet food suppliers including Island Pet Source, A Pets Life and Four Paws Pet Grocery.

“Unfortunately there has been a lot of speculation and misinformation creating unnecessary panic with pet parents,” the release said. “We would like to provide some balance to this recent news coverage, as well as a local perspective as to how it is affecting people here in Victoria.”

Nitkin told Black Press Media that a number of her customers have asked whether they should make changes.

“The biggest question we get is, ‘should I change my food?’ and …. there’s a lack of information instead of good information,” she said. “If you’re concerned, there is a number of high-quality grains, diets that you can still turn to.

“You have to do what’s comfortable for you, as a pet parent, because that’s your pet baby. Do what’s comfortable.”

READ ALSO: Legend of Victoria dog ‘Cody’ lives on with successful pet drive

She added that any diet changes should be introduced slowly.

“My only concern would be a sudden [diet] change that does cause digestive upset. If they decide to make a change it should over a couple of weeks, not instant.”

It is recommended to consult your veterinarian before making decisions about your pet’s diet or health.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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