A diet rich in legumes or potatoes might be linked to an increased risk of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Prior to issuing a public notice on July 12, the FDA had received sporadic reports involving 30 dogs and 7 cats over a three-year period. During that same period, the veterinary cardiology community received about 150 similar reports. In dogs, the disease results in an enlarged heart.

Some of the dogs exhibited signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse. Reports received by FDA identified a range of brands and formulas. 

The common element in these foods appears to be the presence of legumes (including peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts), pulses (seeds of legumes), and/or potatoes as main ingredients in the pet foods. The list also encompasses protein, starch or fiber derived from legumes.

Since the July 12 notification, FDA has received additional reports, which it is in the process of evaluating. None of these reports involve cats. According to a spokesperson from FDA, the agency is not able to provide an accurate accounting at this time, as the number of reports is continuing to rise and the information is being analyzed as it is received.

Some dog breeds are genetically susceptible to developing DCM. However, at least some of the initial reports to FDA involved other breeds of dog not typically prone to this disease. FDA is evaluating various possible dietary causes of DCM in dogs, including, nutritional makeup of the main ingredients or how dogs process them, main ingredient sourcing, processing, and amount used.

At this point in its investigation, FDA is not advising dog owners to make any dietary changes. Pet owners whose dogs are showing any symptoms of DCM or other heart conditions should contact their veterinarian.

FDA is encouraging pet owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.

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