Regarding DCM and grain-Free diets

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Dear valued customer,

The pack at Whole Dog Market hears your concerns about the July 2019 FDA statement regarding DCM and grain-free diets, and we wanted to reach out with some general information, our perspective, and food recommendations.

Let’s start off with the basics:

What is DCM?

DCM is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy, which is a form of heart disease that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood through the vascular system. Often, DCM results in an enlarged heart.

What are the causes of DCM?

The causes of DCM are believed to have either a genetic component or nutritional component, yet research has not found conclusive evidence to support either cause.

What is the FDA statement regarding the link between DCM and diets?

On June 27th, 2019, the FDA published an update to their original statement in 2018 that suggested a link between grain-free foods and DCM, stating,

“... In the meantime, because we have not yet determined the nature of this potential link, we continue to encourage consumers to work closely with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to select the best diet for their pets’ needs.” (

Furthermore, The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates there are 77 million household pets in the United States. 515 dogs have been diagnosed with DCM, which comes down to a level of .0007% of dogs that have DCM currently. It is unclear if these cases are genetic or due to other factors.

In other words, the FDA admits that there is yet to be a true link between grain-free diets and DCM.

Also, the dogs that currently have DCM are a tiny portion of the total household dogs in the United States. Millions of dogs are eating grain-free diets without any diet-related health issues. This begs the question of whether diet has any link whatsoever to DCM.

The good news:

Many of the brands we carry at The Whole Dog Market work with board-certified veterinary nutritionists to formulate their food according to FDA and AAFCO requirements. Several of the companies are also conducting their own research on DCM!

The foods we carry are tested to ensure the nutrients, such as taurine, are sourced from high-quality proteins and ingredients.

Our perspective:

We know a dog’s digestive and nutritional makeup is largely — we are talking 99.9% — based on their ancestor, the gray wolf.

This means dogs need high-quality animal based ingredients, as well as rotation for optimal health.

All dry food has starches, whether that is grain, potato, tapioca, pumpkin, or peas/chickpeas.

If dry food is the route you want to take for your pet, we simply recommend to make sure the food has high-quality animal proteins, a lower level of starch, and to rotate between proteins and brands. We believe this can be done with or without grain.

Some high-quality grain inclusive diets that we carry are Nature’s Logic, Fromm 4-Star, and Farmina Ancestral Grain. All of these companies also have high-quality protein sources to ensure adequate taurine.

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No matter whether you choose grain inclusive or grain-free, an easy way to boost nutrients in your pet’s diet is to add fresh, animal-based items such as Primal Goat Milk, Open Farm cow kefir, Primal bone broth, or frozen or freeze-dried meats.

If you want to avoid the concern of which starch to go with altogether and provide the most bioavailable, fresh, animal-based ingredients, raw food is the way to go!

Raw food is the most biologically appropriate diet. Back to the fact that your dog is 99.9% wolf, what makes sense digestively are diets comprised of meat, organ, and bone.

Depending on the brand, they may also add fruits and veggies for fiber and trace vitamins and minerals.

Some of our favorite brands include Primal, Stella and Chewy’s, and Corrina’s Corner. Every brand formulates differently, so feel free to ask a Pack Member which option is best to start feeding your pup.

Again, the most important items to look for in your food will be the quality of ingredients, animal protein content, and rotation.

So where do you start?

Look no further than The Whole Dog Market!

Our staff is up-to date with research and can answer your questions about what food is right for your pet and your lifestyle.

We continually evaluate our product offering to ensure we have the best foods for you and your pet.

Please come in to speak to one of our pack members or give us a call!

Thank you for your continued support,
The Pack at The Whole Dog Market