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FDA: Grain-free dog food may cause heart disease

Pet owners trying to keep their dogs on a healthy diet may actually be putting them at risk.

Federal officials are investigating a potential link between grain-free dog food and deadly canine heart problems.

The FDA says grain-free dog foods that contain peas, legumes, lentils, and potatoes as sources of protein may be leading to a taurine deficiency, which can cause a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM.

DMC can cause fatal heart failure.

Some reported symptoms include decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse.

No specific brands are named in the warning but pet owners can check the ingredient lists on food.

The FDA says it became concerned when it started getting reports of dog breeds not typically associated with DCM having the disease.

A veterinary researcher at U.C. Davis who helped discover the problem says more information will be coming out soon.

Until then, he says to be very cautious when feeding dogs brands that don't have board certified vets on staff or didn't test the product in feeding trials. He says to also be cautious of brands with exotic ingredients - proteins other than chicken or beef - such as pork, lamb, kangaroo, or duck.

He added, be very careful with grain-free food, especially if legumes or potatoes are in the first five ingredients.

As for cats, taurine is already added to the food routinely.