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Grain-free dog food under investigation – podcast

Holistic veterinarian Chris Bessent explains FDA’s investigation of a potential link between grain-free pet food and a deadly canine heart disease.

Grain-free dog food—particularly products containing high levels of potatoes, pulses, or legumes like lentils and peas—is under fire as FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) investigates a potential connection between canine diet and a heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

With more than 30 years’ experience, holistic veterinarian Chris Bessent blends traditional veterinary medicine with chiropractic, acupuncture and Chinese herbology. She founded Herbsmith Inc., an herbal supplement company providing natural solutions for the health and wellness of animals, as well as The Simple Food Project, which features her limited-ingredient, freeze-dried whole food recipes for pets. Bessent brings unique perspective as a pet owner, veterinarian, and manufacturer of pet food and supplements. She joins INSIDER’s Karen Butler, a senior editor, to provide insight for pet food manufacturers and animal lovers in the industry who are watching FDA’s investigation unfold.

Some takeaways include:

• Details of the CVM investigation, such as the affected breeds and pet food companies named in FDA’s reporting. Bessent notes it’s not just about “boutique” brands, but many major pet nutrition players.

• Theories as to why high numbers of golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers are being named in incidence reports when these breeds are not typically prone to DCM.

• Potential pitfalls of humanizing animal nutrition with trends like grain-free, plant-based proteins and vegan formulations.

• Suggestions for dog food manufacturers to mitigate risk and boost transparency, from reformulating—such as adding taurine and more meats or reducing legume content—to issuing press statements about the DCM situation.

• The possible tie between glyphosate (an herbicide used in farming), grain-free foods and cardiac issues.

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