Grain-Free / Exotic protein / Boutique Diets

There has been a lot of talk about the use of grain-free and exotic protein diets since these products have hit market. If you are feeding or are considering feeding your pet one of these diets, please be aware that some pets on these diets are being diagnosed with a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (see below).

That is quite a statement and we don’t want to panic people but we feel we need to make our clients aware that there may be a risk to their pet’s health if they are feeding these types of diets.

Because we don’t know yet why some pets are affected by these diets, it is our recommendation that owners transition their pet to a lower risk non-grain free diet made by a company that uses the more typical protein ingredients and who has a long track record of producing good quality diets. The only companies that we can recommend at this point are: Royal Canin, Purina, Hills (Science Diet), Eukanuba/Iams. If your pet has an allergy or other condition related to diet, Dr. Frost can suggest one that is a safe alternative.

Why do we recommend these companies? We know they are companies where no diet is sold until it proves that it nourishes real dogs under real conditions (in some cases over the pet’s lifetime), and they subject their diets to peer-reviewed scientific research. These companies are able to back up any of their claims with data that is available to the public. Their food diets are formulated by nutritionists (PhD or boarded DVM nutritionist) and do not release a formula without testing and trialing using the feed trial protocols established by the AAFCO (¬†

Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease that causes the heart to enlarge and weaken, and leads to abnormal heart rhythm, congestive heart failure and sometimes sudden death. Some signs of DCM are loss of appetite, cough, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, decrease in endurance when out walking/playing, fainting. In advanced cases, sometimes the first sign is fatal collapse.

Get Informed
Most importantly read this just released June 27, 2019 report from the FDA Р“FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy” 

Check out “It‚Äôs Not Just Grain-Free: An Update on Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy”¬† by Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN (Tufts edu)

Check out more on the Pet Nutrition Site at Tufts University: and click on “Petfoodology”.

Check out From there, you can follow a link to join the Facebook group: Taurine Deficiency (Nutritional) Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

If you have a dog that has been on a suspect diet and you are concerned for their health, please call our office for advice at 716-366-7440.