BEG Diets and Heart Disease

Submitted by Veterinary Wellness Partners on Fri, 11/08/2019 - 5:00pm
Pictures of diets

Some of you have reached out to us regarding the FDA reports of diet related heart disease.  We greatly appreciate your trust in us.  We are keeping up with the investigation and can share some recommendations based on the findings as of now.  

According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  the FDA released information that it is investigating a possible connection between diets and a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.  The FDA began receiving reports as early as 2014 with the majority of cases reported between 2018 and 2019.  

Veterinary cardiologists became suspicious of a diet related condition when an increased number of cases of DCM surfaced in breeds that were not previously genetically predisposed. DCM is a condition that results in an enlarged, weakened heart that cannot pump blood effectively.  This leads to congestive heart failure. Signs of heart failure include coughing, breathing heavier, exercise intolerance, collapse and even sudden death. Breeds known to be genetically predisposed to DCM the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Newfoundland, Boxer, Irish Wolfhound and Cocker Spaniel.  The investigation is on-going. Investigators are looking into potential deficiency of the amino acid taurine, but that has not explained all the cases.  It is also unclear if the issue is a result of diet imbalance, quality control, interaction between ingredients, poor bioavailability or something else. 

Here are some things we know:

A lot of pets were found eating a BEG diet.  BEG diets are Boutique brands, foods with Exotic ingredients, or Grain-free foods. Other diets that may pose a risk for pets include those that are very low in protein, very high in fiber, vegan, vegetarian, or home-cooked diets.

We are recommending sticking with a diet from companies such as Purina, Hill’s, Iams/Eukanuba and Royal Canin. These pet food companies are well-established, have board-certified veterinary nutritionists on staff, and have robust research and development.  Be wary of marketing ploys, opinion ratings, and myths. Grain sensitivity (especially to wheat) is rare in animals.  

The good news is that, discontinuation of the BEG diet, combined with veterinary medical treatment, many affected dogs have shown improvement of their disease and clinical signs associated with DCM.  The resolution of clinical signs may take some time. 

Clicking on the hyperlinks in this post will take you to the full articles relating to this topic.  Here is an excellent short summary video from Board Certified Veterinary Internist and Veterinary Nutritionist, Dr. Valerie Parker, from The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center.  As always, we would love to discuss this with you relating to your pets’ specific needs, so please reach out to your veterinarian with any questions or concerns you may have. In order to better help you and your pet, your veterinarian or veterinary technician may ask for a complete diet history during your pet’s appointment.


It is our privilege to partner with you in the care of your pets,

The doctors and staff of Veterinary Wellness Partners

Written by Dr. Marissa Hofstetter and Dr. Meghan Studds

These are two sites you can visit for more information:

Lisa Freeman’s blog:

UC Davis:

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