I recently wrote about the pet food industry, pet foods, and making your pet foods at home. Some recent information has prompted me to return to the idea of home-made diets, especially for our canine friends. It seems that diets based on pulses (peas, lentils and beans) as proteins, may not be so good for doggy hearts.
Several studies have recently been released evaluating the diets of dogs with a common heart condition, Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Even the US government has issued a statement on the topic.
Here is what we know so far, but things are evolving and may change. There has been an epidemic of cardiovascular disease in dogs, and there appears to be a link between this disease and their diets. Many of these dogs are breeds not known to have this type of heart disease. Further, many of these dogs are receiving ‘grain free’ diets with higher concentrations of pulses/legumes, such as lentils, peas and beans, either store bought or home cooked. As I said in my previous article, some pet owners elect to feed their dogs vegetarian diets. It may also be the case that those owners feel a home-made diet is healthier for their dog when compared to store-bought dog foods. It does not mean that these diets are toxic, but they may lack certain elements, or even inhibit the absorption of other elements which impact heart function. Golden Retrievers, Labradors and several other breeds are most commonly having this problem, but even a small number of mixed breed dogs have been treated. Fortunately, this problem can usually be rectified when a diagnosis has been made, and the diet is corrected. In some cases, the amino acid taurine has been implicated, and we have known about the link between taurine deficient diets and heart disease for a long time.
Overall, I still encourage pet owners to cook for their pets, if that is something they choose to do. As I said previously, it is not for everyone, and it is complicated. So do your research first. As this story evolves, I will continue to update these posts.
Written by: Dr. Kip Grasse