This post is to learn more about DCM, grain-free diet, and the relation of the two. A grain-free diet has caught the attention of the FDA and cardiologists. We do not allow families to feed our puppies a grain-free diet. This is mentioned in the legal agreement. 

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy:

DCM is when the heart’s ventricles become enlarged which gradually loses the ability to pump blood properly. Which can lead to heart failure. DCM tends to be associated with large breeds (Doberman Pinscher is one of those breeds). Therefore feeding a grain-free diet to a breed that is already prone to DCM only increases the chance of having DCM. A grain-free diet shouldn’t be given to any breed.

Taurine Deficiency:

According to taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that occurs naturally in our bodies. This amino acid is concentrated in the eyes, brain, muscles, and HEART.

Taurine deficiency is independently associated with DCM. Dr. Gideon, a licensed veterinarian in Florida, stated a grain-free diet interferes with the production of this amino acid. Which leads to a deficiency.

There is a case where dogs who have DCM and were fed diets supplemented with taurine showed some improvement with this condition.

dog breeders - Husky Palace

“More Natural”:

Companies will state their grain-free dog food is “more natural”  since wild dogs and wolves do not eat grain. However one can not compare wild dogs to domesticated dogs. Domesticated dogs have developed genes specific to carbohydrate digestion. Additionally, wild dogs and wolves eat the entire prey. Including the bones and vital organs. Most preys eat plants. Therefore the wild animals are digesting grains from their prey. Therefore this is “more natural” is not true.

dog breeders in nc - husky palace

Photo by Jorge Rosales

Peas, lentils, and potatoes:

A grain-free diet tends to substitute the grain with these three ingredients. DCM seems to be related to these three ingredients in large amounts. Large amounts are when these ingredients are listed in the top 10 on the ingredient label. Since 93% of the 515 reported DCM cases had these ingredients.

If they are NOT the main ingredients (towards the bottom of the ingredient label) there is no need to worry. Given that, a smaller amount is not under suspicion.

“Not enough Cases to state a Grain-free diet cause DCM”:

Many vets believe DCM is an issue that is under-reported. If a veterinarian suspects any heart issue, they will inform the owner to take the dog to a cardiologist specialist. Unfortunately, most families tend to not follow up with the specialist simply because they do not have the money to see a specialist.

Therefore, there are most likely dogs who have DCM out there and the owners are unaware. Most owners tend to know their dogs have DCM once they pass away. The reason being, they informed the veterinarian he/she just collapsed. Where a necropsy will be done.

Symptoms of DCM:

Call your vet immediately if your doggie shows any of the signs below:

  • Lethargy

  • Weakness

  • Labored or rapid breathing

  • Coughing

  • Abdominal distention

  • Episodes of collapse

Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Heart:

  • Do not allow your dog to be overweight. Additionally, get plenty of exercises. We need to keep the blood pressure in check. Since high blood pressure can lead to hearts being enlarged. Which can lead to heart failure.

  • Ensure your dog’s teeth and gum are clean regularly. As you may know, dental hygiene is coordinated with heart disease. Provide bones that will help clean the teeth while being fun. Brush your dog’s teeth or have your vet clean them regularly.

Dr. Gideon:

I have spoken with different veterinarians and cardiologists about this topic. Dr. Gideon mentioned a point I will like the general public to know.

If a vet recommends a family to provide a grain-free diet then this means the vet has not been reading articles as they should. That family must proceed to another vet office who will stay current with studies. The only reason a vet should recommend this if the dog is allergic to grain. Which the vet should talk to the owner on ways to help prevent DCM.


Some of you guys might wonder if grain-free treats are okay. Yes, they are. Since they are not a constant food source.

In the end, we all want the best for our fur babies. We want them to live as long as they can. Therefore if a grain-free diet obtains the FDA and cardiologist’s attention it is alarming.

As always, God bless and Go Tigers!

Online Resources:

Food and Drug Administration. FDA Investigation Into Potential Link Between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy. 27 Jun 2019.

Keywords: dog food, grain-free diet, DCM