'Grain-free' dog diets have some veterinarians worried

Nashville - If you love your dogs, there's nothing you wouldn't do for them.

"I think that people are just trying to do what's best for their animals. They love them. They're a part of their family," said Dr. Kiira Rodriguez, Cardiologist with Nashville Veterinary Specialists.

But sometimes, even dog lovers with the best intentions can make "faux pas."

"They hear that people are on grain-free diets so they think the same should be good for their dog," she said. 

Dr. Rodriguez is a Nashville cardiologist. Recently she and her fellow veterinarians started to see a concerning pattern with dogs eating a grain-free diet.

"We started seeing an increase instances of dilated cardiomyopathy. That's a disease of the heart muscle and where the muscle becomes weakened and the heart can no longer pump appropriately," she said. 

If left untreated, a heart with cardiomyopathy can get dilated -- leading to heart failure.

"Or [dogs] can develop arrhythmia and die suddenly," she said. 

Typically the disease is seen in large breeds like Dobermans and Great Danes. But the more Dr. Rodriguez looked back at her records, the more she noticed other, unusual dog breeds showing signs.

So how do you know if your dog is in danger?

"Some of the symptoms we noticed are coughing and increased breathing rate or exercise intolerance, collapse episodes," she said. 

Dr. Rodriguez says if you're unsure of what to feed your furry friend ask a veterinarian or diet tips.
 

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