The pet food industry spends a lot of money marketing its products to pet owners. Like any good marketing effort, the purpose is to increase sales of the product. Pet food marketers know that owners are looking at the ingredient list to make their decisions about which food to feed. However, as the veterinary nutritionists at Tufts point out (see this link Questions You Should be Asking About Your Pet’s Food ), there is not a lot of nutritional information in an ingredient list. In fact, it is totally possible to create a wonderful looking, and perhaps even appetizing ingredient list, and not have a nutritionally balanced diet. This seems to be the case now with some of the boutique brands of grain free diets. In an effort to create a food with an ingredient list that appeals to “grain-free advocates,” some key nutritional needs may have been omitted. The particular nutrient in question, taurine, is an essential amino acid that contributes to heart muscle function. Without it, heart disease can develop.
The FDA recently put out a warning about some of the grain-free foods on the market. FDA investigates cases of canine heart disease potentially linked to diet. Veremedy veterinarians field nutritional questions on a regular basis, and they try to keep up to date on the best information about what is currently on the market for pet foods. We, recently, had a case of heart disease that may have been the result of feeding a grain-free diet. Working with the cardiologist at Peak Veterinary Referral, we hope to keep our patient’s heart going for some time. As a result or this case, and with the announcement from the FDA, we thought we should get this message out to our clients via our blog. One of our doctor’s dogs has been eating a potato-based diet from Hills Pet Nutrition. Fortunately, Hills was aware of the potential nutritional deficiencies in potatos, and added the necessary amino acid to their food. If there is any concern about whether or not there your dog’s food has adequate taurine, you can either call the company and ask them if they have addressed this problem, or you can ask us to run a blood test on your dog to see if he or she is receiving enough taurine in their diet.