One of the most urgent issues facing owners in this country today is the spike in the number of cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), especially in breeds that do not have an inherited higher risk of developing the condition. I have been discussing the issue with board-certified veterinary nutritionists and representatives of pet food companies and will have an update for you soon. In the meantime, I feel compelled to repeat one bit of advice that I give in (I think) every review of foods I have ever written for WDJ:
Forgive the repetition if you are a long-time reader of WDJ; you are aware we’ve been saying this forever. Newer subscribers might not have heard it before.
There is a persistent myth that if you switch your dog’s food too quickly, or too frequently, you will “upset the dog’s stomach.” This myth almost surely originated from pet food companies decades ago; they were no doubt trying to build their consumers’ loyalty to their brand while offering a solution to a problem that they had created – the fact that you can upset a dog’s digestive tract if you feed him the same diet (and nothing else) for months and months and then suddenly give him something very different. What they failed to tell dog owners was that feeding their dogs different foods all the time – switching diets frequently – is more “natural” for dogs; they are perfectly suited to eating a varied diet. Imposing an unnaturally narrow diet on them begs for problems to develop.
If you have a dog with a proven allergy to or intolerance of multiple ingredients, finding a variety of products that don’t aggravate his particular system can be challenging. But the fact remains that variety itself does not hurt your dog. And, importantly, frequently changing the food you buy for your dog – switching among varieties but also among different companies – very likely could have prevented many of the cases of DCM being associated with specific diets.
I’m monitoring many online groups devoted to this topic, and have seen it hundreds of times: “I have been feeding my dog ‘Brand X’ for the past three years, and now he’s been diagnosed with DCM! Brand X is a terrible company!” In many cases, affected dogs are improving with dietary changes, but I would hate to see the owners simply switch undying loyalty to a different company!
The fact is, feeding the same type of products from the same company year in and year out is putting your dog’s health solely in that company’s hands. There isn’t any single company I would trust my entire lifetime of nutrition to; why do we expect this from any pet food company for our dogs?