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11 Cases of Feline Illness Reported in Connection with Recalled Rachael Ray Cat Food

11 Cases of Feline Illness Reported in Connection with Recalled Rachael Ray Cat Food

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Several varieties of Rachael Ray’s cat food have been recalled due to high levels of vitamin D, which spells bad news for cats

If your feline companion has a taste for Rachael Ray’s cat food, you should probably take him or her to the doctor.

Have you been feeding Fluffy cans of Rachael Ray’s Tuna Purrfection? Rachael Ray herself may be willing to eat her own brand on cat food on camera, but may not be that healthy for cats. Five varieties of the food personality’s wet cat food, Nutrish, are being recalled for high levels of vitamin D, which can make cats seriously ill. There have already been 11 reported cases of illness associated with the recalled products.

The affected products include Ocean Fish-a-licious, Lip Smackin' Sardine 'n Mackerel, Ocean Fish & Chicken Catch-iatore, Tuna Purrfection and certain lot codes of Paw Lickin' Chicken & Liver, according to the Washington state NBC syndicate. If you own any of these cat food varieties, you should dispose of them, and can ask your local grocery store for a full refund.

Although vitamin D is healthy in small doses for cats, in large doses it can induce vomiting or diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, and muscle tremors or seizure in felines. Ainsworth Pet Nutrition Inc., which distributes the products, is strongly advising that any cat who displays these symptoms, particularly after consumption of the tainted food, should be immediately taken to a vet. Symptoms usually appear within 12 to 36 hours.

Soulistic Cat Food Reviews in 2021

Do you love shopping from brands with a purpose? Because I do. I believe that WHY is as important as WHAT the company sells.

That is why Soulistic is probably one of the brands you immediately fall in love with. The company was established with a mission to provide finicky cats with a balanced and high-quality diet. They believe that cats should eat the same food we, humans, consume, but with the only difference - it should contain more protein and fewer carbs.

Soulistic claims that apart from filling the feline&rsquos tummy, they also feed the cat&rsquos soul. This motto creates an impression that all their products are made with enormous care and devotion to our furry companions.

Even though the pitch is inspiring, you might be wondering who makes Soulistic cat food. The brand is a child of the family-owned pet food company entitled Weruva, founded by David and Stacie Forman in 2006. This corporation owns other brands like Cats In The Kitchen, Tea Potty Litter, TruLuxe, and others. As they were searching for healthy and high-quality cat food for their three pets with no luck, they decided to create their own recipe. That&rsquos how a new cat food manufacturing company was born.

What Is Manufacturing Facility Location?

Soulistic cat food is manufactured in human-grade facilities in Thailand. These are the same facilities used to produce food for people.

If you are turned away by this detail, let&rsquos see what the Soulistic says. In brief, they explain that they have chosen Thailand to produce cat food for several reasons.

First of all, because Thailand is the world&rsquos leader in food manufacturing and they are known for using quality ingredients for the products they produce.

Secondly, this country meets the company&rsquos high standards for cat food manufacturing. Thai facilities are recognized by USFDA (the United States Food and Drug Administration) and BRC (the British Retail Consortium), organizations that control the quality of human and pet food worldwide.

All that means that Thailand is a great place for making cat food and there&rsquos no threat to the health of your pet since the Soulistic manufacturing facilities have been certified by international organizations that assess the quality of food for pets and humans.

List of Wellness Recalls

March 17, 2017

WellPet announced a voluntarily recall for one variety of canned dog food. The recalled canned dog food is called Wellness 95% Beef Topper. The affected product is packaged in 13.2 ounce cans and has an expiration date of 2/2/2019, 8/29/2019, or 8/30/19.

The affected products may contain elevated levels of a naturally occurring beef thyroid hormone. According to WellPet, symptoms of consuming the affected canned dog food may include the following: increased thirst, increased urination, restless behavior, and weight loss.

On the same day this recall was issued, Blue Buffalo also announced a recall for the same exact reason. Most likely, Blue Buffalo canned foods and Wellness canned foods are produced within the same facility.

February 10, 2017

WellPet recalled several varieties of canned cat food. The company was notified that foreign material was found in some non-WellPet products manufactured in the same facility as Wellness canned cat foods. Therefore, WellPet decided to issue a voluntary recall as a precautionary measure.

Here are the identifying details of the affected products (12.5 ounce canned cat foods):

  • Chicken & Herring Canned Cat Food (Best By Date: 04 AUG 2019)
  • Chicken Canned Cat Food (Best By Date: 03 AUG 2019 & 04 AUG 2019)
  • Chicken & Lobster Canned Cat Food (Best By Date: 04 AUG 2019)
  • Turkey & Salmon Canned Cat Food (Best By Date: 05 AUG 2019)
  • Turkey Canned Cat Food (Best By Date: 04 AUG 2019 & 05 AUG 2019)
  • Beef & Chicken Canned Cat Food (Best By Date: 05 AUG 2019)
  • Beef & Salmon Canned Cat Food (Best By Date: 05 AUG 2019)
October 30, 2012

Wellness announced a recall for its 12 pound Small Breed Adult Healthy Dry Dog Food. The food's moisture content was higher than expected. According to the announcement, "High Moisture can cause food to mold before its expiration date."

The affected dry dog food has an expiration date of August 18, 2013. No other products were included in the recall.

May 4, 2012

WellPet announced a voluntary recall for one recipe of Wellness dry dog food because of a possible salmonella contamination. The dry food was produced by Diamond Pet Foods in Gaston, South Carolina. Here is a snippet of the original press release:

May 4, 2012 - WellPet LLC announced a voluntary recall of one recipe of Wellness® dry dog food after being notified by Diamond Pet Foods regarding the presence of Salmonella in Diamond’s Gaston, South Carolina facility.

All Wellness products are tested for Salmonella and all lots tested negative prior to shipping to customers. The company is voluntarily recalling the select products below. This voluntary recall is being done out of an abundance of caution as these products were produced at the facility that has been linked to recent recalls of Diamond brand foods due to the threat of Salmonella.

Products being recalled: Wellness Complete Health Super5Mix Large Breed Puppy (15 lbs, 30 lbs, 5 oz) with best by dates of JAN 9 2013 through JAN 11 2013.

February 28, 2011

Wellness recalled certain lots of Wellness canned cat food due to insufficient levels of thiamine. Here are the main points from the original press release:

While recent laboratory testing found that most lots of Wellness canned cat food that were tested contain sufficient amounts of thiamine (also known as Vitamin B1), some of the lots listed below might contain less than adequate levels of thiamine. However, out of an abundance of caution, WellPet has decided to recall all of the lots listed below.

Cats fed only the affected lots for several weeks may be at risk for developing a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is essential for cats. Symptoms of deficiency displayed by an affected cat can be gastrointestinal or neurological in nature. Early signs of thiamine deficiency may include decreased appetite, salivation, vomiting, and weight loss. In advanced cases, neurologic signs can develop, which may include ventriflexion (bending towards the floor) of the neck, wobbly walking, circling, falling, and seizures. If your cat has consumed the recalled lots and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian. If treated promptly, thiamine deficiency is typically reversible.

Here are the products included in the recall:

  • Wellness Canned Cat Food (all flavors and sizes) with best by dates from 14APR 13 through 30SEP13.
  • Wellness Canned Cat Food Chicken & Herring (all sizes) with 10NOV13 or 17NOV13 best buy dates.

Sourcing And Manufacturing

Rachael Ray Nutrish dry cat food is manufactured in Ainsworth Pet Foods’ manufacturing facilities in Meadville, Pennsylvania and Frontenac, Kansas. Their wet foods are made in Thailand.

Most of their ingredients are sourced from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Rachael Ray Nutrish maintains that none of their ingredients are sourced from China, but recall that most synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids originate from China.

Over decades of producing these supplements, China has established a strong safety record and there’s no indication that they’re inferior to those made elsewhere.

Huge dog and cat food recall due to possible salmonella contamination. Multiple brand names.

When a company announces a recall, market withdrawal, or safety alert, the FDA posts the company's announcement as a public service. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.

Midwestern Pet Foods, Evansville, Indiana is issuing a voluntary recall of specific expiration dates of certain dog and cat food brands including CanineX, Earthborn Holistic, Venture, Unrefined, Sportmix Wholesomes, Pro Pac, Pro Pac Ultimates, Sportstrail, Sportmix and Meridian brands produced at its Monmouth, Illinois Production Facility because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella . A full list of recalled products may be found at the end of this announcement.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian. No human or pet illnesses have been reported to date.

Products were distributed to retail stores nationwide and to online retailers.

Lot code information may be found on the back of the bags with the following format:
“EXP AUG/02/22/ M 1/L#

This recall covers only certain products manufactured at Midwestern Pet Foods Monmouth, Illinois facility. The unique Monmouth Facility identifier is located in the date code as an “M”.

The recall was as the result of a routine sampling program by the company which revealed that the finished products may contain the bacteria.

Retailers and distributors should immediately pull recalled lots from their inventory and shelves. Do not sell or donate the recalled products. Retailers are encouraged to contact consumers that have purchased the recalled products if the means to do so exists.

Do not feed the recalled products to pets or any other animals. Destroy the food in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them. Wash and sanitize pet food bowls, cups and storage containers. Always ensure you wash and sanitize your hands after handling recalled food or any utensils that come in contact with recalled food.

Contact Midwestern Pet Foods Consumer Affairs at [email protected] or 800-474-4163 , ext 455 from 8 AM to 5 PM Central Time, Monday through Friday for additional information.

This voluntary recall is being conducted in cooperation with the US Food and Drug Administration. All other Midwestern Pet Foods products are unaffected by this recall.

The FDA Has Identified A Possible Link Between 16 Dog Food Brands And Canine Heart Disease

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a report Thursday stating they've identified a potential link between a particular type of canine heart disease and 16 different brands of dog food. This is the third update the FDA has released on the topic after the agency opened its investigation nearly a year ago, in July 2018.

The heart disease, called canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), can cause congestive heart failure in dogs. It is believed to also have a genetic component and more often affects larger dog breeds. Many of the 16 identified brands in the FDA's report have "grain-free" labels, and as such, contain a large amount of peas, lentils, pulses, and/or potatoes (in various forms) as main ingredients (meaning they're "listed within the first 10 ingredients in the ingredient list, before vitamins and minerals").

The brands are listed in descending order of the number of incidents of reported heart disease, as follows: Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature’s Variety, NutriSource, Nutro and Rachael Ray Nutrish.

A disproportionate number of cases reported in the FDA's study were from owners of golden retrievers, and the FDA is looking into the reason. They suspect it has to do with "breed-specific social media groups and activities that have raised awareness of the issue in these communities and urged owners and vets to submit reports to FDA," according to the report. That said, research has shown that golden retrievers may be genetically predisposed to a condition called taurine dificency, which can cause dilated cardiomyopathy.

Based on the newfound diet and disease connection, the report states, "The FDA is using a range of science-based investigative tools as it strives to learn more about this emergence of DCM and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients."

It should be noted that, as part of its investigation, the FDA went back to reports of DCM from 2014, and found 560 cases (119 of those dogs have died). "The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. Most dogs in the U.S. have been eating pet food without apparently developing DCM," the FDA wrote in its report. But because of the increasing trend, they're continuing to look in to the matter.

If your dog is experiencing any DCM symptoms, the FDA suggests you contact your veterinarian immediately. And if you have any relevant information to the investigation, you can visit the agency's page, How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

Heritable component?

Other dog food makers on the Food & Drug Administration defended their products, but basically just by restating marketing claims.

Finished Faulk and Watts of CNN, “If DCM is caught early, heart function may improve in cases not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, according to the FDA. The FDA says it will continue to investigate the connection and will update the public as information becomes available.”

Commented Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED) moderator and Texas A&M University faculty member Tam Garland, “The definitive cause of canine DCM is a subject of debate, although a number of factors, including nutritional, infectious, and genetic predisposition, have been implicated. The fact canine DCM occurs at a higher incidence in specific breeds suggests a heritable genetic component to this disease, although it is likely its etiology is multifactorial.”

Dobermans. (Beth Clifton collage)

Wellness Cat Food Recall

Our Quality team learned that a foreign material was found in non-WellPet products made in the same facility, and so we are taking this conservative step to ensure the well-being of cats and to put our consumers’ minds at ease.

Our Quality team learned that a foreign material was found in non-WellPet products made in the same facility, and so we are taking this conservative step to ensure the well-being of cats and to put our consumers’ minds at ease.

Keeping your trust in our brand is so important to us, and so we wanted to let you and our retailers know right away. Since the products may not have been made consistent with our quality assurance guidelines, we want to replace them. Our Quality team learned that a foreign material was found in non-WellPet products made in the same facility, and so we are taking this conservative step to ensure the well-being of cats and to put our consumers’ minds at ease.

The recipes are in 12.5 oz. cans with the following best buy dates:

Recipe Best By Date
Wellness Canned Cat 12.5 oz Chicken & Herring 08/04/2019
Wellness Canned Cat 12.5 oz Chicken 08/03/2019 & 08/04/2019
Wellness Canned Cat 12.5 oz Chicken & Lobster 08/04/2019
Wellness Canned Cat 12.5 oz Turkey & Salmon 08/05/2019
Wellness Canned Cat 12.5 oz Turkey 08/04/2019 & 08/05/2019
Wellness Canned Cat 12.5 oz Beef & Chicken 08/05/2019
Wellness Canned Cat 12.5 oz Beef & Salmon 08/05/2019

Please click here for how the best by date appears on your can.

If you have any of the 12.5 oz recipes with these best buy dates, you may email us at [email protected] or call us at 1-877-227-9587 and we’ll replace your product.


February 10, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Thank you, Susan! You get this information out there even before the USDA Recall notices!!

So they must be using the same co-packer as Grreat Choice, interesting! But honest.

February 11, 2017 at 8:46 am

Except that the Grreat Choice and Companion products are “economy” brands whereas Wellness is positioned as “super premium.” All made in the same (lousy) place. As consumers we are so ingorant of this issue. Wonder how far this will go? It is just a manifestation of scaled-manufacturing processes, and makes one remember how far the sticking pedal issue became for Toyota: because so many products (cars) had been designed to share certain part platforms, as a means to consolidate and reduce costs. Instead of one or two cars, it went well across their line.

February 11, 2017 at 12:22 am

Are they talking about the Evangers’ problem with pentobarbitol? Don’t know where Wellness Pet food is packed.

February 11, 2017 at 1:51 pm

No, this is a completely separate issue. And it’s a voluntary withdrawal, not a recall. It helps to actually read the article. You can always contact the company, too.

February 11, 2017 at 8:51 pm

You don’t have to be so rude. Some people might have thought that and I was just clarifying it. Applaude Wellness for stepping in and being transparent.

February 12, 2017 at 3:09 am

Nobody is intentionally rude on this site. And I’ve noticed a particular emphasis (especially among cat food users) to be supportive and informative. From the FDA website, here’s their definition: “Recalls – of which there are three types – are actions taken by a firm to remove a product from the market. Recalls may be conducted on a firm’s own initiative, by FDA request, or by FDA order under statutory authority.” “When a company announces a recall, market withdrawal, or safety alert, the FDA posts the company’s announcement as a public service. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.” (Nor does the TAPF).

The Wellness’ announcement isn’t on the USDA website, yet. So we should appreciate when a company communicates directly with the TAPF to get the word out quickly! The announcement is specific by Best Buy date, the Recipe, and Can Size. “Carly” the Wellness Rep, also reached out directly (throughout the comments section) at least 3 times with an 800 number, and weekend availability! The TAPF’s intention is to help as many people as possible! A tremendous amount of work is involved (behind the scenes) to present what is always in the best interests of every pet owner! Thank you, Susan.

February 12, 2017 at 8:10 am

I’ve had direct experience with Wellness. My cat nearly died after eating Wellness canned food. I was/am able to completely eliminate consideration of any other cause. They will endeavor to deflect criticism and won’t take responsibility, unless you can produce a necropsy or statement from a veterinary professional in explicit terms of “As the vet, I was standing in the room at this person’s home and this cat ate only Wellness food and I will confirm that that is the singular/only/exclusive” cause of illness… ” etc. Think I am exaggerating? Ask around. I have personal friends who have had similar and even worse experience.

Let’s be frank. It is good food and I have bought it in the past because of that and because of the company’s reputation. But it is made for them through a contract arrangement. The company that makes their food is responsible for recalls. This is not some sort of heroic move by Wellpet. Their food is made in the same factory and on the same lines as “economy” store brands. Consumers don’t understand that reality.

February 14, 2017 at 10:12 pm

So sorry to hear about your poor cat dying! How awful! ?

I was wondering if you had been feeding the Wellness regularly for a while w/ no issue, and then all of a sudden had a problem w/ the food (like a “lot” of the food possibly had contamination?) I was just wondering what you surmised the issue to be.

I didn’t know that information about them using the same facilities that low-grade commercial pet food is processed at? Wondering if the equipment is thoroughly cleaned & sanitized before their food is processed. If not, then that might be how your cat got sick & died! Had you found out any information about other reports of illness or death reported to the FDA? I am wondering how Wellness responded to you reporting what happened to your cat?

The other question I wanted to know about about, was if your cat had had any vaccination’s around that time period? It wouldn’t necessarily have had to have been exactly that same time, as vaccination reactions can happen right away, but are not exclusively reactive immediately. Reactive issues have also been known to happen w/ topical flea treatments as well.

You of course, might know about some, or all of those things, being a part of this site, but Incase you didn’t know, I figured I would just mention it.

Again, so very sorry for the loss of your beloved cat.

February 17, 2017 at 5:19 pm

February 17, 2017 at 7:22 pm

I know it’s far from convenient for cat owners to have to fiddle around with feline diets. (I have a dog). But from all the conversations here, I get that fact.

I do think it’s time for PF consumers in general to stop giving a “pass” to any company failing quality control. Quit figuring out which ‘can” or “batch” or “Lot No.” is “still” okay to buy amongst a company recall. Or how to get your money back from “Chewy’s” instead of sending that can of suspicious PF (having made your pet seriously ill) to the FDA or a testing facility! Think of the power that action would generate, if more pet owners did the same.

Keep the receipt of any PF you purchase, Take a photo of unopened product, and from your complaint demand a refund from the retailer or company. They don’t “need” the physical product to do that. Trust me. So DON’T return the physical evidence to them.

When there’s a problem, let that company they’ve failed. Period! Particularly given the FDA’s results on Evanger’s. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s just what they discovered on one particular visit to the plant. And in fact, it was BOTH plants. So consider what’s going on everywhere else, when a company isn’t on the radar.

It’s time for PF consumers to speak up once and for all. Your dollar and your pet are worth far more than what they offer. Let them know, you’ve chosen another alternative.

February 18, 2017 at 6:37 am

Telling the company that they have “failed” simply isn’t enough. And “the company” will too often simply deflect the problem so that it is not “public.” As we know, when pet foods are made through contract arrangements, the “manufacturer” is not the company on the can, as consumers think, and that “manufacturer” has little to no information about the daily goings-on where “their” product is actually made. And I’d suggest, with strong commitment, that they often don’t really “care,” anyway. As consumers, we must judge by action. And because too often, these companies don’t act professionally, I am fairly condemning of many of them. A so-called “voluntary” recall is not a heroic move by a vendor.

Not only myself, but many I know, have had endless issues with so-called “premium” and “super premium” pet foods. The parent company will simply deflect criticism: “sounds like the end of a run” when you complain that the cans are filled with water, or short weighted over and over and over, across lots and “recipes/flavors” (yes: that is from Wellness/Wellpet), cans that “look wrong” or inconsistent from what you KNOW it should look like, etc. Or when a cat simply won’t go near these “super premium” foods and you get confirmation from himself that the ingredients are “off.” The list is endless.

And yes, I have taken photographs of these issues, and still have them. Wellpet, as other “high end” brands I can mention, WILL call you. They will never WRITE you, since that is putting it, well, “in writing.” And then Wellpet will simply drop the issue and “close the case” and one wonders… do they chalk that up as a win? As a satisfied customer? As a problem with their manufacturing that, by not being resolved, doesn’t really “exist”?

Wellpet is really no different than other companies: they have protocols in place for dealing with complaints and you have to ask why that is. What you will get are calls where they will not assume responsibility or “blow off” these shocking manufacturing problems as “isolated” or “end of run” issues. As if that makes it OK? Why is it, that manufacture of pet foods is different from other products, or human foods? Why is it that cans that don’t meet guidelines for what the recipe is supposed to be are put on the shelf and the consumer is just supposed to accept it as an “end of run” can when that 5oz. can costs nearly $2 or more? If this happened in human foods… if you bought a bag of potato chips that was half full… the scandal would be swift and far-reaching.

The societal phenomena wherein pet food consumers accept these failings needs to be examined.

16 Pet Foods Possibly Linked To Heart Disease In Dogs, FDA Reports

Most reported cases ate pet food containing peas, lentils, chickpeas, and different kinds of . [+] potatoes.

Topline: Amid an ongoing investigation by the Food and Drug Administration into a possible link between heart disease in dogs and “grain-free” dog food often including “legumes such as peas and lentils,” the FDA listed 16 pet food brands that have been named most frequently in its investigation.

  • The brands most often named in the FDA’s reports were: Acana (67), Zignature (64), Taste of the Wild (53), 4Health (32), Earthborn Holistic (32), Blue Buffalo (31), Nature’s Domain (29), Fromm (24), Merrick (16), California Natural (15), Natural Balance (15), Orijen (12), Nature’s Variety (11), NutriSource (10), Nutro (10), and Rachael Ray Nutrish (10).
  • Over 500 cases of dilated cardio myopathy (DCM) are under investigation. Symptoms include lack of stamina, coughing, and difficulty breathing. If untreated, DCM can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure.
  • The FDA found most reported cases ate pet food containing peas, lentils, chickpeas, and different kinds of potatoes.
  • The FDA has not asked pet food companies to recall products. Instead, the agency shared reports with the companies “so they can make informed decisions about the marketing and formulation of their products.” of the potential link in 2018, when the FDA began receiving reports of DCM cases in breeds rarely diagnosed with the condition.

What to watch for: The FDA advises pet owners to bring dogs to the veterinarian if symptoms of DCM or other heart conditions are noticed, and to check with the vet before switching foods. If the dog is suddenly very weak or collapses, an emergency veterinarian should be immediately sought. If DCM is caught early, (and not related to the dog’s genetics) heart function can recover.

Crucial quote: “We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods,” said FDA veterinary director Dr. Steven M. Solomon.

Lisette Voytko is a wealth reporter at Forbes Magazine, focusing on billionaires, money and the world's richest people. Previously on the Forbes breaking news desk. She

Lisette Voytko is a wealth reporter at Forbes Magazine, focusing on billionaires, money and the world's richest people. Previously on the Forbes breaking news desk. She holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Also seen in: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose and xoJane.

Pet Foods Potentially Linked to Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

Federal regulators continue to investigate an increase of dilated cardiomyopathy cases in dogs and cats fed pet foods containing peas, lentils and potatoes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began an investigation in July 2018 after increased reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy occurring in dog breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. Dogs in those reports had been fed pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients, leading veterinarians, researchers and the FDA to suspect a link between diet and DCM.

During the last decade many pet food manufacturers have included these plant proteins in their formulations. They are cheaper than quality animal protein sources and enabled manufacturers to capitalize on the grain free pet food trend.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in inefficiency to pump blood and an enlarged heart. Dogs with heart disease may show signs such as decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse.

In an update from the FDA on June 27, 2019, the agency released initial results of its investigation, but stopped short of declaring a link between DCM and certain pet food ingredients or issuing any pet food recall.

“Based on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors,” the agency said.

Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of involving 560 dogs and 14 cats diagnosed with DCM. Some reports included multiple pets in the same household. Of those reported, 119 dogs and 5 cats died.

The majority of reports were submitted after the agency announced its investigation to the public about the potential link between pet food ingredients and DCM in July 2018. The FDA said there were many other reports of non-DCM heart disease and cardiac symptoms in pets submitted during that time, but the agency only included those with a confirmed DCM diagnosis in its report. The true number of cases may be underreported because animals are typically treated symptomatically, and diagnostic testing and treatment can be complex and costly to owners.

Predominant dog breeds developing DCM in those reports were Golden Retrievers, mixed breeds, Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers and Australian Shepherds. The FDA said the prevalence of reports involving Golden Retrievers was due to breed-specific social media groups and activities that raised awareness of the issue in these communities and urged owners and vets to submit reports to FDA.

“We understand the concern that pet owners have about these reports: the illnesses can be severe, even fatal, and many cases report eating “grain-free” labeled pet food,” the agency said. “The FDA is using a range of science-based investigative tools as it strives to learn more about this emergence of DCM and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients.”

Most of the reports were of dogs fed a dry dog food, but not all. 91% were labeled grain free. 93% contained peas and/or lentils. 42% contained potatoes/sweet potatoes.

Brands and varieties of dog food varied widely. Brands named most frequently in reports submitted to the FDA included Acana (67), Zignature (64), Taste of the Wild (53), 4Health (32), Earthborn Holistic (32), Blue Buffalo (31), Nature’s Domain (29), Fromm (24), Merrick (16), California Natural (15), Natural Balance (15), Orijen (12), Nature’s Variety (11), NutriSource (10), Nutro (10), and Rachael Ray Nutrish (10). These include both grain-free and grain-containing diets in all forms (kibble, canned, raw, home-cooked).

Animal protein sources in the reported diets also varied widely, and many diets contained more than one protein source. The most common animal proteins in the reported diets were chicken, lamb and fish. However, some diets contained novel protein sources such as kangaroo, bison or duck. No one animal protein source was predominant. The common thread appears to be legumes, pulses (seeds of legumes), and/or potatoes as main ingredients in the food.

See a list of all reports of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs and cats reported to the FDA between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019.

According to and article published December 2018 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association entitled “Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know?”, in addition to those dogs with DCM completely unrelated to diet, there may be two groups of dogs with diet-associated DCM: dogs with DCM specifically related to taurine deficiency and dogs with DCM associated with separate, but yet unknown, dietary factors. Study authors recommended that if DCM is diagnosed in a dog that is eating a boutique brand pet food, vegetarian, vegan, or home-prepared diet, veterinarians should measure plasma and whole blood taurine concentrations. Authors also recommended that all other dogs in the household that are eating the same diet be screened for DCM. Read the FDA’s updated information for veterinarians.

FDA has not issued a Pet Food Recall

“The FDA has not yet determined the nature of the possible connection between these foods and canine DCM, so we do not have definitive information indicating that the food needs to be removed from the market,” says the agency. “We have shared case report information with these firms so they can make informed decisions about the marketing and formulation of their products. We are also sharing this information with the public, but encourage pet owners to work with their veterinarians, who may consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, prior to making diet changes.”

The FDA advised pet owners to contact their veterinarian if their dog is showing possible signs of DCM or other heart conditions, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse. Provide a dietary history of food and treats fed to the pet.

Until more is known, pet owners may want to check pet food ingredient labels for legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts or potatoes and sweet potatoes and make their own determination of the risk of feeding such foods. Consumers with questions may visit the FAQ page.

The agency said it will continue to to investigate and gather more information in an effort to identify whether there is a specific dietary link to development of DCM and will provide updates to the public as information develops. Consumers and veterinarians are encouraged to submit well-documented DCM cases using the Safety Reporting Portal.

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