16 Popular Dog Foods That Have Been Linked to Canine Heart Disease


You buy food for your dog because you believe that you’re taking care of one of their most basic needs in the best way possible, but what if the bag you pick up at the store is could end up shortening your pup’s lifespan?

I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty upset.

In the interest of knowledge and keeping our furbabies on this side of the rainbow bridge for as long as possible, here are 16 dog foods you might want to avoid (or at least do further research into before forking over your cash and bringing them home).


The FDA has traced poor cardiovascular health in dogs to grain-free pet foods that replace ingredients like wheat and corn with peas, lentils, legume seeds, or potatoes.

The New York Times reports that the food brands singled out – 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 – are a bit surprising, since they bill themselves as healthy alternatives to the grocery store brands.


These brands are often marketed as “wholesome,” “high-protein,” and “all-natural,” but the report shows that a grain-free diet appears to actually be harmful to canine health.

Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 560 reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that can lead to heart failure. 119 of the cases were fatal, and, though the condition is partly genetic, the culprit in many of the cases was found to be the dog’s diet.


According to the report:

“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 FDA is using a range of science-based investigative tools as it strives to learn more about this emergence of DCM [dilated cardiomyopathy] and its potential link to certain diets or ingredients.”

Even though the makers of grain-free pet foods claim their kibble reflects more truly the diet of our dogs’ wild ancestors, canine health experts say that’s false. Wild dogs, like wolves, ingest grains through the innards of the herbivores they hunt and kill, and dogs need the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that grains provide in order to maintain a healthy heart.


If your dog shows symptoms like decreased energy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse you should take them to the vet as soon as possible, regardless of what food they’re eating.

And as with all medical decisions these days, you shouldn’t make yours based on claims made in commercials or on bags of food – do your research and talk to your veterinarian, instead.

Take care of those puppers, friends!