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Champion defends dog food

U.S. Food and Drug Administration study looks at canine dilated cardiomyopathy

A recent study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has implicated Morinville's Champion Petfoods for manufacturing dog foods that have been linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

The FDA study, released at the end of June, was the first to identify the names of the manufacturers that were most frequently identified in adverse event reports.

“It’s important to note that the FDA doesn’t yet know how certain diets may be associated with DCM in some dogs. However, the FDA is first and foremost a public health agency, and takes seriously its responsibility to protect human and animal health,” the statement reads on the press announcement page of the agency’s website. “In the case of DCM, the agency has an obligation to be transparent with the pet-owning public regarding the frequency with which certain brands have been reported.”

The study identified more than 500 cases of DCM since 2014. The potentially fatal disease of canine cardiac muscle results in a decreased ability of the heart to generate pressure to pump blood through the vascular system. It can result in congestive heart failure.

Champion’s website notes that DCM is serious but rare, affecting 0.5 to 1 per cent of the 77 million dogs in the U.S., while it is speculated that diet affects less than 0.1 per cent of the afflicted animals. The company’s recipes, it continues, emphasize fresh and raw meat with total animal-derived ingredients ranging from 60 to 85 per cent of the finished product. “Legumes are not a significant feature in Champion’s recipes, and never have been,” it reads.

Legumes and potatoes in a dog’s diet are thought to be the most likely ingredients to cause DCM.

The website for Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine states that “the definitive cause of canine DCM is the subject of debate, although a number of factors including nutritional, infectious, and genetic predisposition have been implicated.”

“We know it can be devastating to suddenly learn that your previously healthy pet has a potentially life-threatening disease like DCM. That’s why the FDA is committed to continuing our collaborative scientific investigation into the possible link between DCM and certain pet foods,” said Steven M. Solomon, D.V.M., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, as quoted in the press release.

“Our ongoing work in this area is a top priority for the FDA, and as our investigation unfolds and we learn more about this issue, we will make additional updates to the public. In the meantime, because we have not yet determined the nature of this potential link, we continue to encourage consumers to work closely with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to select the best diet for their pets’ needs.”

Champion Petfoods manufactures products under the Acana and Orijen brands, both of which were named in the study along with 14 others. The FDA first alerted the public a year ago about the possible link.

In its media response to DCM, Champion issued a statement highlighting its concern and compassion for dogs and their owners struggling to find a reason for the cardiomyopathy.

“Our hearts go out to every pet and Pet Lover who have been impacted by DCM. We take this very seriously and will continue to work internally and with other industry leaders on research into the cause of DCM in order to help Pet Lovers understand the facts. Our own research, and the millions of pets who have thrived by eating our food over 25 years, have shown that Champion pet foods are safe,” the statement, found at reads.

It also notes how the FDA’s study “provides no causative scientific link” between DCM and its products, ingredients or grain-free diets as a whole.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ecology and Environment Reporter at the Fitzhugh Newspaper since July 2022 under Local Journalism Initiative funding provided by News Media Canada.
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