How to Choose the Best Food for Your Dog

Dr. Jeff Smith
Dr. Jeff Smith, Practice Owner, Veterinarian

There has been a scary trend that we are starting to hear about with dogs and heart failure that seems to be linked to grain-free foods. There is an article by a vet nutritionist in which she found that it is not only grain-free foods but also the smaller more boutique food companies. The regulations for human food and pet food are much different and there are many loopholes that can be found when producing pet food. Anybody can put pictures of chicken or vegetables on the bag but that says nothing about the actual ingredients in the food.

When buying pet food, most people are unaware of the AAFCO statement on the bag. This provides information about the life stage of your pet that this food is suitable for. While most labels say ‘for all life stages’, some foods are meant for intermittent feeding and aren’t great for growth and development.

The heart problems that are linked to grain-free diets cause a type of heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy. What we have found is that the dogs get the dilated cardiomyopathy not after the first time eating the food but usually after several months to a year. This suggests that there is some kind of nutritional deficiency because your heart is not receiving something it needs and is becoming weaker and weaker.

They have begun to study litters of puppies whose mothers were fed grain-free diets. In one case a golden retriever mom had been fed grain-free food her whole life and had a litter of around eight puppies; each one of the puppies had dilated cardiomyopathy.

This type of heart failure is being found in both cats and dogs which makes finding the cause even more difficult. These smaller brand companies are also being linked with dilated cardiomyopathy, even when the food isn’t grain-free, because of an incorrect mix of nutrients.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is very hard to detect because you can’t see the symptoms right away. The heart begins to weaken over time and dilate until it reaches a point where the blood flow is inhibited then we begin to see heart failure and coughing and wheezing. Unfortunately, some of these signs are reversible and some of them are not.

Until this problem is solved, insult your veterinarian and get good quality food. At Danville Family Vet, we have over 700 different foods on our shelf because each one is for a specific need. Come in and see us today and let us help you find the food that suits your dog best!