*Note: this article has been paraphrased from a story & study conducted by Tufts UniversityAs with human food, there has been an explosion of pet food trends over the past 10 years. Possibly, the most popular is a grain free diet. There has been a large growth in "boutique" small companies. The issue with that is since they are small companies and manufacturers, they do not have the budget like the larger companies to run nutritional ingredient testing and digestibility levels AFTER the food is made and consumed. This has lead to some scary issues in our pets.
Veterinary cardiologists are finding dogs with life threatening heart disease are low in taurine, an essential amino acid for heart health. Many of these dogs are being fed grain free diets, which aggravate taurine levels. Low level of taurine often lead to cardiomyopathy; a fatal heart condition in dogs and cats.
Breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, and Cavalier King Charles have had genetic heart disease for many years. Now the Golden Retriever is adding to this breed specific list due to many of them eating a grain free diet. A nutritionist found during research that grain free diets high in legumes, such as peas and lentils, are a contributor.
Many new companies have come on the market touting the quality of their food. Food companies are not required to test the levels of nutrients in their diets AFTER production. The process of making food will decrease the levels of some amino acids, like taurine, so it is important to purchase food from larger corporations who lead nutritional research. Purina, Iams, Royal Canin, and Hill's DO run the post production testing that is not required by law. They have scientists, nutritionists, and veterinarians on staff who follow the studies. Please feed diets from these larger makers and not from smaller companies. Veterinarians have also seen some nutritional deficiencies with homemade diets and diets from small companies.
The good news-taurine can be supplemented and damage can reversed if it is caught early. Supplementing taurine must be done carefully. A blood level check is advised if your pet has been on a homemade, vegetarian, or grain free diet. You may schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for the blood draw and it will be sent to the University of California-Davis.