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Did you vet tell you to feed grain to AVOID DCM?!!

Got your morning coffee in hand?! Good. I put my rant pants on for this one.

A post two days ago highlighted a strange uttering that has been heard in vet clinics across the land for the last few years.

Apparently, dogs, an animal that doesn’t eat grain and won’t choose it in food trials, NEED grain for the health of their hearts.

Does that seem right to you?

No, me and you both. So, where the hell did this one come from?!

Dogs have ZERO physiological need for carbs. Even the pet food “regulators” AAFCO/FEDIAF agree with us there. They also have zero physiological need of the near impossible-to-digest protein that comes with it (wheat and corn gluten) let alone the anti-nutrient compounds therein (phytic acid sure but also tannins, saponins, gossypol, lectins, protease and amylase inhibitors and goitrogens!).

I wonder what magic compound is in grain that isn’t in their normal diet (normal being meat, organ, bone, bit of veg maybe). .

Answers on a postcard.

At this point, if you think hard, you might come up with “heart healthy” plant oils, which is yet another harmful nutritional myth stubbornly perpetuated by health and heart organisations alike.

Aside large doses of omega 6 throwing out the crucial omega 3:6 ratio resulting in inflammation, something that most of us are now familiar with, we’re pretty clear that plant oils are not the saviours we thought they were, in fact, they’re more dangerous than sugar. If you or your doctor are under any illusions there, please check out “Diseases of Civilization: Are Seed Oil Excesses the Unifying Mechanism” on YouTube. Everyone NEEDS to watch that video and needs to remove all products containing refined plant oils from their life, especially if cancer and heart health are your concern.

So when your vet says dogs NEED the grain, what are they talking about?! Honestly, ask them to elaborate. What exactly were they missing?!!

Because here’s what they’re talking about – for the last 6 years the FDA and pet food producers (the ones that use grain, which was most until recently) COLLUDED to repress the growth of the “natural” pet food market. They began by attempting to slow the growth of “grain-free” pet food.

Now, we can’t have a product going around boasting about NOT containing our most profitable junk food ingredient, so they contrived a plan to slow them down and came up with 600 cases (in a population of 90mil US dogs…) of POSSIBLE Dilated Cardio Myopathy (DCM) that MAY have been linked to a handful of grain-free pet food companies which the FDA dutifully named straight away so the public could be alerted and AVOID the POSSIBLE suspects.

They then did their thing, getting on their microphones to alert the public via the usual outlets – in this case, The New York Times and the Washington Post, who dutifully picked up on the ‘link’ and spread the concern to worried dog owners throughout the nation. Very quickly, a Facebook group ‘Taurine Deficient (Nutritional) Dilated Cardiomyopathy’ popped up and had more than 60,000 members.

It was another terrifying pandemic being fought by the world’s most trusted regulator…after just 600 unverified cases.

It was just strange the way it happened. I mean, compare this to the melamine scandal just a decade earlier (still going on, btw) where GRAIN-BASED PET FOODS were killing tens of thousands and the FDA wouldn’t name a single manufacturer even when it became clear they KNEW WHICH BRANDS WERE AT FAULT and congress had to step in.

There was another scandal most are forgetting about. Back in the 1970s tens of thousands of dogs but mainly cats started dying from DCM as GRAIN-BASED PET FOODS stopped putting meat (and therefore taurine) in pet food. This was where the “cats need taurine” bit came from. They do, but they actually need MEAT, meat being the best source of taurine (Taurus is the Latin for bull).

This was the start of the NRC / AAFCO – they were brought in to get pet food off the floor so this may never happen again.

So how are they doing, if just on the DCM front?

Well, today there are still between  500,000 and a million cases of DCM in the US (90mil dogs) EVERY year.

[I can’t bog down this already-lengthy piece with studies, all this has been covered in my book, Feeding Dogs The Science Behind the Dry V Raw Pet Food Debate, available from many independents and Amazon].

But the FDA are particularly concerned about just these 600 here.

6 years on, what have we learned? To summarise,

  • if potatoes and peas were the issue, why did no DCM pop up in EU grain-free-kibble-fed dogs?!
  • no manufacturers found an issue, no recalls occurred
  • despite heavy media advertisement, no more than 600 cases were found

Many issues in kibble can cause DCM in pets, including a lack of taurine but also methionine and cysteine (taurines’ precursors/building blocks) as well too much plant fibre (think “light” pet food) which perturbs both digestion and reabsorption of bile (and thus taurine) from the intestines.

For that reason, there’s no reason grain-free pet food, being high carb, low protein, ultra-processed and full of plant fibre, would be any better or worse than cereal-based pet food for causing DCM in dogs. They are a tiny step better in that they don’t include wheat or barley and thus gluten, but few are better where it matters for DCM (meat).

Back to this case, the FDA charged that the new fillers being used in pet food (potatoes, peas etc.) were “ingredients of concern” and highlighted two previous works that appeared to highlight such a link, neither were published and today, both “studies” are in the bin, disproven by the likes of Mansilla et al. 2019 who clearly showed neither study addressed the lack of taurine, methionine, cystine or excess fibre in their test foods.

Lack of supporting evidence aside, this tiny handful of DCM cases was enough to prompt a group of American veterinary nutrition specialists from major research universities – Dr. Lisa Freeman, Dr. Josh Stern and Dr. Darcy Adin – to put together a piece entitled “Diet- Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs: What Do We KNOW?”. In fairness to them, they all declared interest to the big 3 cereal-based pet food producers (Hills. Royal Canin, Purina). Their piece remains today the seminal work linking DCM in dogs to grain-free pet food. It is certainly the most popular. Published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, it has been downloaded more than fifty times more often than Mansilla et al. (2019) showing no correlation. With more than 80,000 downloads in just six months (Dec 2018 to July 2019), it had three times that of any article published around the same time in that journal. In fact, with those sort of numbers, it is likely the most widely read canine nutritional science article ever written, which is quite a remarkable feat for Freeman who ALSO HAPPENED author JAVMA’s other most popularly downloaded articles, this time a piece on raw dog food in 2013, titled “Current Knowledge About The Risks And Benefits Of Raw Meat-Based Diets For Dogs And Cats” which today lies in ruins, revealed for the industry-loaded, heavily biased nonsense that it was. But my, my it was effective.

Like their 2013 hatchet job on real food, this piece too is replete with errors. Again in point form for brevity:

  • it states ‘over the past few years, an increasing number of DCM cases involving dogs appear to have been related to diet’ although they provide no evidence of this.
  • they repeatedly implicate ‘BEG diets’ (essentially grain-free pet foods) with DCM in dogs without using a single reference
  • they rely heavily on the two unpublished studies (by them) that made no such association. In fact, the Adin study was caught with its pants down when they found it had been published previously and their findings were not nearly as dramatic as their new findings reported the issue to be.
  • the article was not peer-reviewed (hence they could get away with such vagary…despite saying “what do we KNOW” in the title, but it would be enough to slip it past the worlds vets who are too busy to get into the details).

Long story short, the whole debacle is being hammered out in the courts as grain-free pet food companies were not happy. They said it was bad for sales (which was the objective). While “natural” pet foods were now 50% of the market, in 2019, Statista confirmed a significant drop in their sales in the US. In previous years, it had enjoyed year-on-year growth of nearly 10%, in 2019 sales had fallen to just 0.3%.

If by this stage you are wondering why the US government appears so willing to step in and assist the plight of the poor, suffering cereal-based pet food sector, then consider the fact that US pet food, now wiser and “naturally driven” are no longer happy feeding hazardous food waste to their pets.

Cereal-based pet food is historically a profitable endpoint for the waste of the human food industry. It is an outlet for poor-quality grain, as well as indigestible leftovers from the likes of the beet, corn and grape industries. Most importantly, it is the dumping ground for the meat industry.

Today, Americans are eating a LOT of animal protein in the form of meat, eggs, cheese and milk. The problem is this sector produces a lot of hazardous waste. Typically, less than half of a slaughtered cow is consumed by humans. The rest, much of the head, brain, carcass, much of the organs, innards, feet and tail, is waste, as far as the human market is concerned. Nor is it just the good stuff. They also have copious amounts of 4D meat (dead, diseased, dying, disabled) stuff (which has to be cremated here in the EU), along with road kill, euthanised cats and dogs (honestly) and truly toxic ingredients like leftover restaurant grease.

Now, in the US, producers have two options available to them at this point – sell their waste to rendering plants, which will stew it with all other meat waste and sell it to big pet food and other animal feed groups…or dump it.

Here are some throwaway figures on that latter option, to give us some context: the US produces more than 50 million tonnes of meat each year (beef, chicken, turkey and pork, combined, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures). That is potentially 25 million tonnes of animal waste each year (or 25 billion kilos). If we estimate that the producer asks for just $0.10 per kilo of their product (in Ireland, chicken and duck carcass is worth €0.30/kg when bought by the tonne, beef organs €0.70/kg), that’s a market value of $250 billion.

This shifts our focus immediately. No longer are we talking about a $30 billion US pet food market. Now we are talking figures of a quarter of a trillion. In fact, we could easily double that figure, considering we are now asking the meat industry to adapt its supply lines and storage facilities and start paying to dump what was once a profitable commodity. Maybe half a trillion dollars? That is 1.5 times the size of the US entire prescription drug market, and we all now know how the FDA “regulates” those guys.

So, either the producers pay or the home of unchecked capitalism, currently $33 trillion in debt (to who?!!!), will be picking up the tab to manage it for them.

They could insist meat prices increase significantly but this would result in less US meat being consumed, which is equally bad news for the economy and heavily lobbied governments as a whole.

There is simply no profitable way out of this, so they dig in and continue to drive consumption by any means necessary relentlessly.

There is one more sting in the tail. The FDA continued their completely unsupported and repressive line of inquiry until Dec 2022. Why did they stop then? Mars acquired Orijen, the world’s largest and most successful grain-free pet food company the month before. Bet they got it a significantly better price.

DCM from grain-free pet food is now no longer mentioned.

Talk about a conspiracy!

So there you have it. Your vet is still parroting the same confused, utterly unsupported and today completely disproven nonsense invented by Big Pet Food, fuelled by the FDA, supported by morally bankrupt (albeit highly effective) whitecoats like Freeman et al. and shat out repeatedly by your ever-caring mainstream media.

That’s how effective this sort of nonsense is – years later, with zero evidence in support, our vets still believe it is GRAIN-FREE pet food that causes DCM in dogs so therefore the GRAIN must have been protective to heart health in dogs…despite it historically being a cereal-based pet food issue.

A shocking indictment of the state of nutritional nouse deployed by the industry today.

Now, I’m off to change my pants before I have a heart attack.

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