We have been receiving quite a few emails from concerned families regarding the latest FDA report regarding canine heart disease (Dilated Cardio Myopathy) and possible links to dry dog kibbles lacking in sufficient amounts of taurine. We have spent many days and hours sorting through and reading information and have concluded that the FDA report as it stands is incomplete and more controlled study needs to be done. We do think we need to be cautious, concerned and do some careful analyzing of the foods we feed our dogs. Part of our concern is that the report seems to support the food sold by the sponsors of the study - Mars and Nestle'. That said we believe that diet for dogs is just as important for their health as it is for humans. We believe that whole foods and variety in sources of nutrition are necessary for both humans and our pets. Our viewpoint has not really changed on this given the recent report. We have always avoided dog foods with inexpensive ingredients, unknown sourcing of ingredients and fillers such as wheat, corn and soy.
The topic of the FDA report is the lack of sufficient amounts of taurine in dog kibble. The report links a lack of sufficient taurine to DCM heart disease and suggests that grain free diets do not contain enough taurine. The tricky part is that in many cases DCM is a genetic disease and there is no evidence as yet that even a perfect diet can change this, and that grain does not contain taurine. (Side Note; all of our breeding pairs are genetically tested and are clear of the genetic form of DCM. )Taurine is an amino acid that is synthesized in humans and dogs from methionine and cysteine, two essential amino acids. These are found ONLY in animal proteins; meat. They are not found in grains. 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. The report does not claim that taurine is found in grain, but unfortunately many dog owners are mistakingly assuming that all grain free foods are low in taurine.
Our take away from the report is that some grain free diets are very high in carbohydrates, and low in actual useful protein. All dog kibble has some type of filler/binder - either a grain or some type of carbohydrate. Grain provides very little protein, so dog kibble with a grain filler may have more actual meat protein to make the full protein requirement ( which is good), Some grain free kibbles contain Peas and Legumes as a filler. When Pea and Legume proteins are counted as part of the protein content on the labeling it is misleading, as those proteins do not include Taurine (bad). So those particular grain free foods may not be nutritionally complete for dogs as their protein content is only a percentage of animal protein. While we think the FDA report does not warrant mass hysteria about dog food, we do believe it provides an opportunity for becoming more aware of what is in our dog's food and making educated decisions about what to feed.
We are constantly searching for the most nutritious foods, and companies who have excellent standards of safety in processing these foods. We also believe it is wise to occasionally change brands that we feed our pets in order to offer them a variety of taste and slightly different levels of vitamins, proteins and vital nutrients.
We post our current puppy food choice on our Puppy Prep Supply list for ease in transitioning our puppies into their new homes. We are not dietary specialists and we could never research all the food options that are available, but we do our best by studying information published by those who do. We do not believe there is one "best" food, so that is why we rotate.
So what should we feed our dogs?
Currently we are feeding Nulo freestyle turkey & sweet potato food ( 85% animal based protein, no peas no legumes). We supplement with Nulo freestyle freeze dried raw turkey with cranberries (85% turkey organs and bone) . Although chicken contains the highest ratio of taurine per ounce there is a growing issue with dogs reacting to chicken products with allergic symptoms and developing auto- immune problems. We avoid all chicken based foods and treats.
Following is a link to understanding the recent reports:
Here are some links to articles that we have found very helpful:
We will continue to update this information as it becomes available. In the meantime if you are uncomfortable with your pet's current diet, switch to another food after you finish your current bag, there is no harm in moving to a different food. Try supplementing with a few sardines once a week ( high taurine) and treat with freeze dried beef liver :)