As you've likely heard, there has been a lot of controversy and confusion about the correlation between grain-free pet foods and DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) over the past few years, It is an incredibly complex topic and there is certainly no consensus of opinion; however, the original FDA study, has been deemed 'debunked' by most veterinarians and nutritionists. The study is mostly considered flawed, being based on too small of a sample and unscientific criteria ... even the FDA has since claimed that they are unsure if there is a connection between DCM and grain-free foods.
There are some take-aways though, based on the opinions of the vast majority of integrative veterinarians:
- Taurine is an Essential Amino Acid (a building block of protein).
- Taurine is necessary for healthy functions in the heart, eyes and brain, among other benefits. A deficiency can lead to heart disease like DCM and vision problems. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to this condition.
- Taurine is found naturally in meat, fish, raw milk and eggs. There are especially high levels of Taurine in organ meats, and it is most concentrated in heart muscle.
- Grains contain ZERO Taurine.
- Taurine is vital, yet very volatile. It is easily destroyed by heat and processing. If a food contains too low of a meat content or it is unbalanced, there will be a deficiency. If a food is over-processed, Taurine must be added in a synthetic form (just read your ingredient panels).
- It is not a matter of whether a food is grain-free or not -- it's a matter of whether the food contains enough meat. Replacing the 'binders' in grain-inclusive foods for the typical grain-free 'binders' (potato, legumes, etc) does not mean that there is adequate Taurine.
- Dogs and cats fed a species-appropriate diet (high meat, low carb) rarely suffer from DCM. Low grain, but equally important, low potato, legume, etc, is important.
- Ensuring variety (rotating different proteins and added organ meats) is crucial.
- The less processed the diet is (raw, gently cooked, freeze-dried, dehydrated is best), the more natural Taurine you will provide.
- At Metro Pet Market, we pride ourselves on ensuring our foods are species- appropriate, meaning a high meat content as required by our furry carnivore family members. We still recommend a variety of foods and treats for maximum health benefits.
To learn more, check out some of the following information:
(video starts at ~5:30 minutes)
There is a great post on Facebook with Dr. Karen Becker called 'Popular Grain-Free Pet Foods Are Causing Heart Disease: https://www.facebook.com/doctor.karen.becker/videos/popular-grain-free-pet-foods-are-causing-heart-disease/10156521657422748/
One of our pet food brands, Carna4, has written a great article: https://carna4.com/wpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/DCM-Grain-free-Taurine-2019-Update.pdf
Many of our pet food brands have more information on their websites, and they are accessible to answer questions about Taurine levels in their foods.