Recalls & Safety Information

Update on Taurine-Deficiency Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Thanks to the staff at Lake Harriet Veterinary clinic in Minneapolis, who held an informational session on this topic. This summary is based on the information they passed along: The bottom line, unfortunately, is that there is still no answer about what is the cause of this heart disease. There appears to be a connection between eating grain free diets containing legumes or potatoes (white or sweet)—even diets that contain adequate taurine levels—and becoming taurine deficient; however, there is a wide range of timeframes during which the dog eats grain free before developing taurine deficiency: some dogs are affected in a very short time (a month or so) and other dogs eat grain-free food their whole lives and are never affected. The reason for the different response times is unknown. Golden Retrievers and Border Collies have a higher incidence of diet-responsive taurine deficiency than other breeds. “Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a form of heart disease in which the heart muscle becomes weak and the heart becomes enlarged. This results in poor heart function, leading to exercise intolerance, collapse, pale gums, coughing, and panting. Eventually, DCM results in complete heart failure. Many dogs show no symptoms until the disease is quite advanced.” (from the Lake Harriet Veterinary session handout) DCM is not inconsequential, and we still can’t predict who will be susceptible or how long it will take to develop. So, what should you do? First, forget my advice from the previous newsletter about supplementing with taurine. Why? Because if one of the current hypotheses ends up being true – that grain free diets (legumes and/or potato) bind taurine or interfere with the production of taurine in the dog’s body – and you continue to feed [...]

By |2018-11-16T12:14:05-06:00November 1st, 2018|Recalls & Safety Information|1 Comment

Regarding the Grain-Free Food Connection to Cardiomyopathy

Many have asked me my take on the recent concerns raised about grain free dog foods.  Here it is: As I understand it, there isn’t unequivocal data about the link between legume-rich dog food and dilated cardiomyopathy (legumes commonly used in dog food are peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and lentils).  It’s probably a more complex problem than what’s being presented right now.  Legumes may interfere with the production of taurine (a heart-friendly amino acid) in the body.  There seems to be a genetic component in some of the cases.  This should concern you if you have a golden retriever, for example, because that is one breed where there seems to be a connection between legumes and heart disease. While we wait for more research to identify the exact mechanisms at work, there are some ways you can respond: Some dog food manufacturers—NutriSource for one—is already upping the taurine added to their formulas. I suspect that other manufacturers will supplement with taurine or up the amount if they already add it.  They’ve been doing it for years with cat food; now it’s dogs’ turn. You can give your dog supplemental taurine yourself. Consult with your vet to determine dosage. You can rotate foods for your dog. If you’ve ever spoken with me about what food to feed your dog, you’ve heard me say, “All of them.”  I am a strong proponent of rotating foods, and this issue just adds to the reasons why.  Say you feed your dog the same thing year after year.  What if that food you have chosen has too much or too little of a nutrient that your dog needs?  We don’t know what is the ideal food for a dog—and every [...]

By |2018-09-10T19:49:21-05:00September 10th, 2018|Recalls & Safety Information|0 Comments

To Blue Buffalo

To Blue Buffalo: Hello.  I am a small, independent brick-and-mortar retailer of high-quality dog food and supplies  in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I have openly stated my philosophy on dog food on my website (  One of the principles is “no by-products.” When I heard of Purina’s opening salvo in the chicken by-product meal controversy, I was sympathetic to Blue Buffalo—if I trust David, I’ll back him in a battle against Goliath any day.  I believed that Purina was probably cooking up something to make people lose trust in you.  Then comes word that, indeed, there has been by-product meal in Blue Buffalo food.  Now I find myself losing trust in you, and it hasn’t been because of anything Purina did:  it’s because of what you HAVEN’T done. You have not communicated directly to the retailers who sell your product (or is it just me who hasn’t seen even a single communication—formal or informal—on this controversy). I don’t know any more than any of my customers about what happened or what is happening or what you are going to do.  We are a very important front-line participant in your marketing and should be kept informed proactively. You have not identified the product(s) that were affected by this snafu. Which products and lot numbers contain by-product meal? You have not voluntarily recalled those products. If you really cared about the customers who buy Blue Buffalo and the dogs (and cats) who eat it, you would want to get the adulterated food out of the food chain. You have described neither the quality assurance procedures that were in place before the by-product meal entered the supply chain, nor the changes you have made to those procedures since the [...]

By |2015-06-04T13:30:18-05:00June 4th, 2015|Recalls & Safety Information|1 Comment