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Report: Popular dog diet linked to deadly heart disease

Posted at 9:20 PM, Jan 09, 2019

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Could the food you are feeding your furry friends be taking years off their life?

Most pet owners wouldn't think of such a thing, but it's happening all over the country.

Back in November, WEWS reported on the U.S Food and Drug Administration's investigation into the possible link between certain dog diets and the deadly heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, also known as DCM. It’s a disease where the heart becomes enlarged and pumps poorly, thus decreasing the amount of blood throughout the body.

Typically dogs who have the condition are larger, older breeds, but now are scattered across the country, mid-sized dogs and even puppies are suffering from DCM.

A new fad among pet owners is called the BEG diet (boutique, exotic ingredient and grain-free). It includes ingredients like kangaroo, duck, buffalo, salmon, lamb, bison, venison, lentils, peas, fava beans, tapioca, barley, and chickpeas as primary ingredients.

The FDA has been gathering information in which has lead them to suspect DCM is associated with the BEG diet. They believe a large majority of cases are diet associated. The suspicion is that dogs who are on the BEG diet are being diagnosed at a higher rate.

Veterinarian Aaron Bivens works at South Buffalo Springs Animal Hospital in Las Vegas. He said it's okay to have your pet on a diet but it must be well balanced.

"Sometimes it's not the right stuff. It's lacking something or giving ingredients to pets that are toxic," Bivens said.

A key ingredient in a dog's food is Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid. According to Bivens, Taurine is needed for a healthy heart function.

Scientists are still investigating if the BEG diet is bad for a dog's heart, as well as the question of why grain-free dog foods may be problematic in some cases.

In the meantime, the FDA recommends that changes in dogs' diets must be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.