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Animal Doctor: Owner concerned that some dog foods can cause heart disease

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Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 15-pound, 9-year-old mixed-breed beagle/Chihuahua/terrier and a 20-pound, 2-year-old mixed-breed beagle/Boston terrier/pom.

I have been feeding them Fromm dry food. My older dog is now on Gold reduced-calorie (basically Fromm’s senior food) that is not grain-free. The other dog is on Fromm’s Surf and Turf, which is grain-free.

A study just came out that Fromm is one of 16 dog foods that can cause DCM (canine dilated cardiomyopathy) in dogs. I am at my wits’ end!

My vet carries Science Diet, which I have not heard good things about either. I do not know what the best food for my beloved dogs is and do not have a lot of time to prepare homemade food for my dogs. I also need something that travels well and needs no refrigeration. Can you tell me the best solution? — L.P., West Palm Beach, Florida

Dear L.P.: I am surprised that a list of some of the pet food manufacturers whose dry dog food has been linked to heart disease in dogs has been publicized while experts still debate why, and other dry dog food brands from other manufacturers containing the same or similar ingredients are not listed (for details visit

My theory is that some ingredients (high in lectins) may block the uptake of some essential nutrients like Taurine, which plays a role in heart health even though this nutrient is added by manufacturers. Many such additives, needed to make up for poor nutrient quality of basic ingredients, spoilage and loss during heat processing, especially with dry dog and cat foods, are manufactured and imported from China, where quality controls are questionable.

I strongly advise against feeding dogs an all-dry kibble dog food for many reasons, from obesity to inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Make the dry a part of the meal that includes canned, freeze-dried, raw frozen or homemade, plus a little cottage cheese, kefir or lightly boiled egg. As a backup, give your dogs a few drops of fish oil and 250 mg Taurine, available in drug stores.

Dear Dr. Fox: Our rescue cat, Cashmere, is eating, licking and chewing everything in sight — paper, walls, tile, people, plastic, you name it. We can’t keep these things from him. Of course, he vomits a lot. Is there a name and cure for this affliction? — R.C., Fargo, North Dakota

Dear R.C.: Your cat’s condition is called pica, for which there can be many reasons.

A full wellness evaluation is called for with a veterinarian. Your cat could have a chronic inflammatory bowel problem, internal parasites, early stage thyroid disease or lymphatic cancer. In some instances, boredom or anxiety is a factor, or nutritional deficiency as from lack of roughage in the diet or too much, or too little quality protein and fats.

Let me know what the veterinarian comes up with and how effective the treatment is. As a first step, I would feed five small meals daily of a good-quality, grain-free canned cat food. Also, incorporate lots of active playtime in the evening.

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