FDA will soon release DCM investigation update – Truth about Pet Food

How do I know? Because industry has already been told exactly what information FDA is releasing.

A concerned industry member shared some information with TruthaboutPetFood.com; the FDA will release in July an update to their investigation of pet food related heart disease (dilated cardiomyopathy – DCM). But, we were told the FDA update will be little more than a ‘data dump’, an update to how many reports of pet food related heart disease FDA has received. Industry is being told by FDA the agency has received (a total) in the range of 500 pet food related DCM case reports since January 2014.

Why tell industry first?

We were told the information about the FDA update was provided by FDA to the Pet Food Institute – the trade association representing Purina, Hill’s and Mars Petcare (among others). Why is FDA providing important information regarding a supposedly unbiased investigation to this trade association well in advance of updating pet owners?

The FDA stated in their February 2019 update they are “collaborating with a variety of components of the animal health sector to collect and evaluate information about the DCM cases and the diets pets ate prior to becoming ill.” ‘Collecting’ and ‘evaluating’ information from industry is VERY different than sharing with industry details of the FDA investigation well in advance of telling pet owners.

Did FDA intentionally give industry details in advance of pet owners to give industry time to spin the soon to be released data?

There has been a tremendous amount of ‘spinning’ being done ever since this issue came into the public view, so much so that pet owners are getting not-so-accurate information even from their veterinarians.

In the past few weeks, TruthaboutPetFood.com has received multiple emails from concerned pet owners about their own veterinarians pushing them to provide their pets ONLY grain-based pet feeds produced by either Purina, Mars, or Hill’s – some going so far as to tell pet owners these are the only brands that are safe.

One pet owner shared he was told in a face to face conversation with a veterinary cardiologist (heavily involved in the pet food related DCM investigation) “they are literally seeing thousands of new cases everyday.” This is NOT even close to true as evidenced by information released by FDA. The pet owner shared “I hate it when they try to scare me.”

Another pet owner shared she is so concerned about local vet clinics pushing pet owners to provide their pets only Purina pet foods she is considering filing a formal Cease and Desist letter with her veterinarians (opinion: it’s a great idea).

And now a pet food manufacturer has very publicly joined in the argument to the Purina, Mars or Hill’s pet food push stating his brand has been “unfairly defamed” by the suggested link of “boutique” brands of pet food to heart disease; ‘suggested’ only by some, not FDA. This manufacturer is demanding the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association post “Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know?” be removed due to it’s inaccurate information (spin?).

One of the points the above pet food manufacturer makes is the little talked about science that shows grain-based pet foods are significantly linked to DCM too.

DCM Diagnosed Dogs North Carolina State University 2015 – 2017
22 dogs – grain-free pet food
29 dogs – grain-based pet food

At a recent veterinary forum – American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) – some research was presented by Dr. Darcy Adin veterinary cardiologist of North Carolina State University. “Taurine and carnitine deficiencies are associated with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.” The research states 49 dogs were diagnosed with DCM at the North Carolina State vet school between 2015 – 2017. Dr. Adin’s research found 22 dogs diagnosed were eating a grain-free diet, but…29 dogs diagnosed with DCM were eating a grain-based diet.

Dry pet food IS the #1 link

It’s puzzling that the spin of this concerning situation has been pointed to grains as almost a healing pet food ingredient when the most significant link to canine heart disease is being ignored. Greater than any other potential connection, dry dog food is by far the leading link of pet food related heart disease as evidenced by FDA in their last DCM update.

Review of the canine reports shows that the majority of reports were for dry dog food formulations, but raw food, semi-moist food, and wet food were also represented.”

Vertical bar graph shows dog food formulations in DCM Reports: Dry - 269 reports; Raw - 4 reports; Wet - 1 report; Semi-Moist - 1 report; Multiple Formulations - 14 reports; Unknown - 5 reports

Because industry was provided advance notice of the soon to be released FDA investigation update, they are probably preparing their new spin now. What a crime that FDA is providing industry advance notice of their investigation details neglecting the most important pet food stakeholder – pet owners.

The following email was sent to FDA today (6/24/2019):

We were alerted that the FDA has provided the Pet Food Institute details of a soon to be released update of the Agency’s investigation of pet food related DCM. It is more than concerning that FDA shared details of their investigation with industry well in advance of sharing those details with pet owners.

Pet owners – not industry – are the ones suffering the most from this nutritional failure of pet food. Pet owners are reporting to us that veterinarians are telling clients “they are literally seeing thousands of new cases (of DCM) everyday” and veterinarians are pushing pet owners to provide their pets ONLY a grain-based pet food made by Purina, Mars, or Hill’s. Needless to say, the focus of this situation is completely out of control.

The focus should be on the actual problem – a nutritional failure of ‘Complete and Balanced’ pet foods. We ask the FDA to keep their focus on the Complete and Balanced nutritional failure and to update pet owners in the same timely manner as they do industry.

Should the FDA respond, it will be shared.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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