The Most Frequently Named Foods in FDA Reports

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This article is a sidebar to our post “Diet, Dogs, and DCM”, which appeared in the November 2019 issue

Some people will be upset that we didn’t name all 293 foods that have been reported to the FDA as being possibly connected to DCM. Those people think that if they could just see the list of named foods, they could avoid those and feel safe feeding anything else, but that’s simply not the case. Just because a food was named does not mean it should not be fed, particularly if there were only one or two reports for that food, or if the food has been reformulated or added taurine since the reports were made. We have no way of knowing how valid the reports might be; it could be pure coincidence that a dog developed DCM while eating this food, particularly in breeds known to be genetically prone to DCM, or maybe the dog was recently switched to that food, so it wouldn’t have had time to cause heart problems.  

Conversely, just because a food is not named does not mean it is therefore safe to feed. Only a small percentage of suspected cases ever get reported to the FDA, and the likelihood of reports goes down for foods that have a small market share or are new to the market. The list of reported foods is also a moving target: not only will there continue to be more reports, but companies are likely to change the formulations or the names of their foods over time, so that the food currently on the shelf is no longer the same as the food that was reported, or a reported food has the same formulation but a different name. Looking for names is not going to help; knowing what to look for in ingredient lists is far more important.

With that said, there were a few foods that were reported so frequently that, even though they met AAFCO guidelines, we suspect they all contributed in some way to the development of DCM in some dogs. We are going to provide those names, though most now contain added taurine (and we applaud the manufacturers for doing so). We will also show the major ingredients in each food at the time of the reports, to the best of our ability (it is not always possible to know when an ingredient list changed). Below, you will find the seven products that were mentioned most frequently in the reports, with the factors that may be linked to DCM in bold type.

Note: In its June 2019 Update, the FDA provided a chart that listed the 16 companies with the most products listed among the reports it was investigating to date. No information was provided as to which of the foods made by those companies were the ones that were associated with the reports. In our view, this may have been unfairly damaging to certain companies, and offered consumers no information as to which products may have been free of mentions in the reports. We were more interested in trying to figure out which products had the most mentions in the reports, and what they had in common.

  1. (44 reports) Zignature Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Formula (dry):
    • Old formula: Kangaroo, Kangaroo Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour, Sunflower Oil (preserved with Citric Acid), Flaxseed, Red Lentils, Green Lentils, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Pea Protein, Natural Flavors, Salt, . . .
    • Guaranteed Analysis: minimum 26% Protein
    • Product has added taurine and been reformulated since the first FDA report was released.
    • In total, Zignature had 12 foods named in a total of 77 reports (33 in addition to the dry Kangaroo Formula). The most named formulas other than Kangaroo were Turkey Formula (6), Lamb Formula (5) and Trout & Salmon Meal Formula (5), all dry foods. Three reports were for canned foods. All Zignature formulas are high in legumes and limited-ingredient. The guaranteed analyses show minimum protein ranging from 26-32%, with the Kangaroo Formula having the lowest protein percentage. The company states that they began supplementing all of their diets with taurine after the FDA reports were released.
  2. (22 reports) Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Lamb & Apple Formula (dry):
    • Old formula: Deboned lamb, lamb meal, whole green peas, red lentils, lamb liver, lamb fat, pinto beans, chickpeas, herring oil, green lentils, whole yellow peas, lentil fiber, Red Delicious apples, natural lamb flavor, lamb tripe, lamb kidney, lamb cartilage, dried kelp, whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, Bartlett pears, freeze-dried lamb liver, freeze-dried lamb tripe, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, . . .
    • Guaranteed Analysis: minimum 31% Protein
    • Product has added taurine and been reformulated since the first FDA report was released.
    • In total, Acana had 18 foods named in a total of 78 reports (56 in addition to the Lamb & Apple Singles Formula). The most named formulas other than Lamb & Apple were Pork & Squash Singles (11), Duck & Pear Singles (8), Heritage Freshwater Fish (5), and Heritage Free-Run Poultry Formula (4). A total of 43 reports were for the Singles (limited-ingredient) line of foods, followed by 16 reports for the Heritage line and 10 for the Regionals line. All reports were for dry foods (Acana does not make canned foods). All reported Acana formulas are high in legumes; all Singles formulas are limited-ingredient. The guaranteed analyses show minimum protein ranging from 27-35%, with a discontinued Singles Formula (Wild Mackerel) having the lowest protein percentage. The company states that they reformulated their Singles foods, adding more meat and taurine supplementation, in September 2018.
  3. (18 reports) Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Meadow Feast with Lamb Meal (dry):
    • Lamb Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Pea Fiber, Flaxseed, Natural Flavors, Blueberries, Cranberries, Apples, Carrots, Spinach, Salt . . .
    • Guaranteed Analysis: minimum 26% Protein
    • No changes that we’re aware of since the first FDA report was released but already included added taurine.
    • In total, Earthborn Holistic had 5 foods named in a total of 37 reports (19 in addition to Meadow Feast). A total of 43 reports were for the Singles (limited-ingredient) line of foods, followed by 16 reports for the Heritage line and 10 for the Regionals line. The most named formulas other than Meadow Feast were Coastal Catch (8), and Great Plains Feast (4). All reports were for grain-free dry foods. All reported Earthborn Holistic formulas are high in legumes. The guaranteed analyses show minimum protein ranging from 25-32%, with Meadow Feast having one of the lowest protein percentages. The company states that they have always fortified their grain-free recipes with taurine and other amino acids. Earthborn Holistic is a Midwestern Pet Foods brand.
  4. (12 reports) California Natural Kangaroo & Red Lentils Recipe, Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet (dry):
    • Kangaroo, Red Lentils, Green Lentils, Peas, Sunflower Oil, Flaxseed, Pea Fiber, . . .
    • Guaranteed Analysis: minimum 21% Protein
    • This brand has been discontinued.
  5. (12 reports) Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Formula (dry):
    • Salmon meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, canola oil, ocean fish meal, pea protein, potato fibre, natural flavour, flaxseed, salt, . . .
    • Guaranteed Analysis: minimum 24% Protein
    • No changes that we’re aware of since the first FDA report was released; does not contain taurine according to the ingredient list on the Costco website.
    • In total, Kirkland Signature had 7 foods named in a total of 34 reports (22 in addition to Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Formula). A total of 5 foods and 32 reports were for the Nature’s Domain line. The most named formulas other than Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato were Nature’s Bounty Organic Chicken & Pea (8), and Nature’s Bounty Turkey Meal & Sweet Potato (3). All reports were for dry foods (Kirkland Signature does not make canned foods). All reported Nature’s Domain formulas are high in legumes. The guaranteed analyses show minimum protein ranging from 20-27%. There is no indication that the company is making any changes to their foods. Kirkland Signature is a Costco brand but the Nature’s Domain line is also available elsewhere.
  6. (11 reports) Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Pork & Squash Formula (dry):
    • Old formula: Deboned pork, pork meal, whole green peas, red lentils, pork liver, pork fat, pinto beans, chickpeas, herring oil, green lentils, whole yellow peas, whole butternut squash, pork kidney, lentil fiber, natural pork flavor, pork cartilage, dried kelp, freeze-dried pork liver, whole pumpkin, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, carrots, Red Delicious apples, Bartlett pears,, . . .
    • Guaranteed Analysis: minimum 31% Protein
    • See above for more information on Acana.
  7. (11 reports) Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Canine Recipe (dry):
    • Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, canola oil, lentils, salmon meal, smoked salmon, potato fiber, natural flavor, salt, . . .
    • Guaranteed Analysis: minimum 25% Protein
    • Product has added taurine since the first FDA report was released.
    • In total, Taste of the Wild had 11 foods named in a total of 63 reports (52 in addition to Pacific Stream). A total of 5 foods and 32 reports were for the Nature’s Domain line. The most named formulas other than Pacific Stream were High Prairie (10), Sierra Mountain (6), Pine Forest (6), Prey Angus Beef Limited Ingredient Formula (5) and Prey Trout Limited Ingredient Formula (5), with an additional 12 reports for unspecified grain-free formulas and 3 reports for unspecified Prey limited-ingredient formulas. All reports were for dry foods. All reported Taste of the Wild formulas are high in legumes; all Prey formulas are limited-ingredient. The guaranteed analyses show minimum protein ranging from 25-32%. The company states that they began adding taurine to recipes without grains after the initial FDA report was released.

1 COMMENT

  1. Where is the list of dry dog foods? I became a member of THE WHOLE DOG JOURNAL earlier this year waiting to see the list of dry foods to avoid. I just purchased this newsletter for $22.00 and it still does not answer my questions! I’m not satisfied with either items and would like to cancel both

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