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Beware of Grain-Free Diets for Pup & Kitty

Much like the myth that vaccination causes autism caught on in the human population, grain-free diets caught on for dogs and cats. Well, actually there was one case in 2007 when, according to the NYTimes there was a batch of tainted kibble from China and the misinformation exploded.

At one time grain-free foods were a rarity but now close to half the high end manufacturers produce one or more grain-free diets. Consumer demand.

However, in July 2019, the FDA issued a warning that feeding your dog a grain-free diet may lead to an irreversible condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM. And now, at Brooklyn Bark, we are seeing Barkers with DCM.

Think about it. For millennia dogs have eaten along side us humans. They have developed their guts to accommodate the scraps and leftovers that we gave to them. As we learned to cook with fire which predigested our food, our guts shortened. And since pups shared our food, their guts shortened, too. But pups and humans are NOT created equal. And although many of us are trying to lose weight and are doing so by cutting carbs, it turns out that a grain-free diet is not a good thing for pups. (and who sticks to their carb-free diet entirely anyway?) So what are the early warning signs?

  • Exercise intolerance and a general slowing down (common in the disease's early stages)

  • Feet are cool to the touch

  • Coughing

  • Pot-bellied appearance

  • Decreased appetite

  • Labored breathing

Whether it is the lack of grains or the fact that these foods substitute high amounts of legumes such as lentils and peas that lead to DCM matters not to us dog and cat owners. What matters is there is a correlation between pets receiving these diets and irreversible heart disease. So the bottom line is, you may be killing pup – or kitty – with love. Until the studies are all in, we recommend including grains in your pet’s diet. If you are looking at a weight loss program, look to exercise. If you don’t have time yourself, talk to us about longer walks. We’re happy to help.

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