The FDA named 16 dog food brands linked to canine heart disease – Here’s what to feed your dog instead


Unpacking the Myth of the Grain Free Diet

A year after the FDA warned about “grain free” diets possibly being linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy, they have gone a step further and have identified 16 brands to be associated with the disease. While FDA is not calling for a complete stop in the use of said brands, many vets are suggesting to move away from grain free brands that don’t meet nutritional standards.

With all this controversy surrounding it, we wanted to share some facts that every pet owner should consider before taking a side.

The History

One of the arguments supporting grain free diets for dogs is the fact that wolves, the ancestors of dogs, don’t eat grains in the wild. However, dogs aren’t wolves, they’re dogs, and that over time they have evolved to be able to consume grains and carbohydrates through living alongside humans. The real reason grain free diets for dogs have become so popular is not because they’re necessary, but because they’re easy to market.

The Science

Not all grain-free diets are created equal, and this seems to be the source of the problem. Many brands that sell grain-free dog foods are replacing nutrient-dense meats with plant-based proteins like potatoes, which are an inadequate substitute for real meat. When you feed your dog grain free food, it usually ends up having more fats and more complex carbohydrates from those replacement ingredients like potatoes and lentils, which leads to your dog gaining weight over time.

The other issue at the heart of the grain-free debate is taurine, an amino acid found only in animal tissue, which plays a vital role in maintaining cardiac functions in dogs. Since many grain-free dog foods are using these real meat alternatives, dogs aren’t receiving the proper protein to produce the taurine they need. This isn’t the case with fresh diets, where whole, quality meats are a sufficient source of taurine.

The Effects

Along with causing weight gain, low quality grain free diets may actually contribute to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and other types of heart disease. There are over 500 grain free dog food brands that are currently being investigated by the FDA for their effect on DCM in dogs, and the FDA has recently released their first list of brands to be directly linked to the disease. While the FDA hasn’t mandated for owners to change their pets diets, they do warn against food that contains lots of lentils, peas, and potatoes, and not enough meats.

The full warning list

  • Acana
  • Zignature
  • Taste of the Wild
  • 4Health
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Nature’s Domain
  • Fromm
  • Merrick
  • California Natural
  • Natural Balance
  • Orijen
  • Nature’s Variety
  • NutriSource
  • Nutro
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish

Healthy Options

One of the scariest parts about DCM is that it won’t show any notable symptoms until your dog is very sick. Because of this, you should take preventative measures against DCM and other heart diseases by consulting with your vet about diet choices.

If you’re looking for an alternative option, fresh dog food subscription companies are a healthier, higher quality option for dog owners who want to feed their dogs fresh, homemade meals, grain-free or not. Recently, there have been a lot of new companies on the scene, and while the products they’re selling are more expensive than traditional, dried dog food, a lot of people have made the switch. When it comes down to it, commercial dog food isn’t a healthy option, and it really shouldn’t be an option at all. Why should your dog eat food you wouldn’t eat? They shouldn’t. However, because there are so many more options now than there used to be, picking the right dog meal subscription isn’t easy. While a lot of the products look the same, there are differences worth noting, so we’ve picked three of the best dog food companies to improve your dog’s health: Ollie, Farmer’s Dog, and NomNomNow.

Nom Nom Now

NomNomNow is dedicated to making sure your dog gets all its necessary vitamins and minerals. To achieve this, each NomNomNow meal includes NomNomNutrient mix and Fish Oil, so you don’t have to worry about buying extra supplements for your pup. All of NomNomNow’s meals are specially made by Dr. Justin Shmalberg, one of the world’s leading veterinary nutritionists. He and his team have created four main meals: Heartland Beef Mash, Tasty Turkey Fare, Chicken Chow-Wow, and Porkalicious Pork, customizing each of these recipes based on your dog’s needs. Meals are made fresh weekly using restaurant-quality ingredients, and then are hand-inspected before being sent to you.

Ollie is all about quality. While Ollie’s headquarters are in New York, all of its cooking and packaging takes place in New Jersey, at a USDA certified facility. This means that the meals Ollie makes aren’t only edible for dogs – they’re edible for you too. Ollie’s dog food is custom formulated by veterinary nutritionists to include all of the proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats your dog needs so they don’t end up with any of the nutritional deficiencies that may be produced by grain free diets. Meals are made fresh, and each batch is tested for quality by third party testers for taste, freshness, and quality. Additionally, Ollie makes portioning your dog’s food easy, including portioning tools and instructions in every package. Currently, Ollie is offering 20% off your first box, but you can get 50% off through this link for a limited time only.

Farmer’s Dog

Founded in Brooklyn, the Farmer’s Dog is focused on not only making your dog’s life better, but making the whole world better too. As part of this, Farmer’s Dog only uses recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable materials when packaging its meals. Before packaging, meals are designed by veterinary nutritionists to fit your pet’s profile, and cooked in a USDA certified kitchen using proteins, vegetables, starches, and fruits that are cooked at low heat. Every two weeks, the Farmer’s Dog asks you to choose which two meals you’d like to have featured in your delivery for the next two weeks, then vacuum packs and sends your chosen recipes in fourteen meals delivered to your door.


Our team at Insider Envy are not veterinarians but care deeply about dogs. Feeding your dog healthy and balanced meals made out of real, fresh ingredients from places like Ollie may help to lower your dog’s risk of disease, but it doesn’t eliminate it. If you believe your dog is at risk for DCM or any other disease, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.

Update: Ollie is extending a limited time offer to our readers. Buy Ollie now through this article and receive an exclusive 50% off your first box for a limited time only.

At InsiderEnvy we only promote products we love. We participate in a small number of affiliate programs, meaning we may receive compensation when you buy items after clicking a link on InsiderEnvy. We appreciate your support!

by Insider Envy Staff

This site uses cookies to help us serve you better. By continuing to explore our site, you accept our use of cookies. ✓ Accept
Welcome back! This site uses cookies to help us serve you better and we have updated our Privacy Policy since your last visit. By continuing to explore our site, you accept our use of cookies. ✓ Accept