Fromm Dog Food Recall Heart Disease

Sixteen brands of dog food may be associated with a heightened risk of heart failure in dogs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA isnt suggesting that pet owners stop feeding their dogs the particular brands yet, but some vets are already advising against “grain free” foods.

The FDA is currently investigating more than 500 reports that appear to link dog foods that are marketed as “grain free” to canine dilated cardiomyopathy. The FDA has been warning about the foods based on peas, lentils or potatoes since July 2018, but the statement released late last week is the first time the agency has identified the 16 brand names.

The brands are ordered by the number of cases linked to them, which ranged from a high of 67 to 10:

Most of the reports were associated with dry dog food formulations, but raw food, semi-moist food and wet foods were included. The FDA has not suggested owners change their pets’ diets.

“We’re not saying don’t use these brands, we’re just telling pet owners to work directly with their veterinarians because we’re still investigating,” Lindsay Haake, a spokesperson for the FDA, said.

While the vast majority of cases have been in dogs, there have also been some in cats.

Veterinary cardiologists told NBC News that they aren’t waiting for the FDA investigation to conclude before advising owners to stop feeding the suspect pet foods.

“When a dog comes to us and we learn during the history that it’s on a grain-free diet, we advise switching to a non-grain-free diet,” said Dr. Anna Gelzer, a veterinary cardiologist and an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “There’s no scientifically proven benefit to grain-free foods, so why take a chance?”

In a statement, the Pet Food Institute, whose members make 98 percent of U.S. pet foods and treats, said it and its members “have convened nutritionists, veterinarians and product safety specialists for more than a year to better understand whether there is a relationship between dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and diet. PFI agrees with the FDAs statements that this is a complex issue with many factors requiring scientific evaluation.”

Heart failure is a known issue for larger breeds of dogs, such as Great Danes and German Shepherds, Gelzer said. The breeds most frequently reported to the FDA for the heart disease were golden retrievers, mixed and Labrador retrievers.

But recently the condition started showing up in smaller breeds, which is what caught the attention of veterinarians and eventually the FDA.

“For us at Penn, we started to see cases in late 2017 that stuck out as unusual because they were in smaller breeds such as springer spaniels and beagles that you don’t typically see with canine dilated cardiomyopathy,” Gelzer said.

Knowing there had been studies showing that diet could play a role in the development of heart disease in dogs, “we started making investigations into what each owner was feeding.”

Ultimately Gelzer and others found there was a common denominator: grain-free dog foods, which had replaced grains with substitutes such as lentils, peas and chickpeas.

Gelzer doesn’t know exactly how the grain-free pet food trend started, but suspects it had to do with consumer demand for what seemed like a healthier alternative.

“It didn’t come from the science side,” Gelzer said. “If you think about wolves, they may ingest the contents of ruminant animals they preyed on, so they are certainly capable of eating grain. There’s no scientific reason for going without grain.”

Generally when dogs develop a food allergy, it’s to a protein, Gelzer said. So, veterinarians will often switch to a food with a different protein source to treat the problem.

One of the big problems with DCM is that dogs don’t show symptoms of the disease — lethargy, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath — until they’re very sick, Gelzer said.

She points to the example of clients who came in with a very sick dog that was diagnosed with DCM. The family had a second dog that seemed healthy, but because both were eating a grain-free dog food, Gelzer suggested bringing in the second dog to be checked.

What we don’t know is if [the foods] used in these diets in place of grains are causing the problem. It’s also possible that could be some kind of toxin.

“When we evaluated that dog, it also had decreased heart function, but it was still subclinical,” she said. “The dog didn’t look abnormal because it was at an early stage.”

Gelzer isn’t sure what the results will be if those early stage dogs are switched to a different food. “Some get better when the diet is changed,” she said. “Some stay the same and keep the status quo with medications and some die despite changing the diet and getting all the heart medications we can give.”

While it’s clear that pet owners are feeding these brands because they “are trying to do what they perceive as the right thing for their dogs, unless the dog has a documented sensitivity to grains, it’s probably not worth the risk at this point to feed these products,” said Dr. Bruce Kornreich, a veterinary cardiologist in the department of clinical sciences at the Veterinary College of Cornell University and associate director of the Cornell Feline Health Center.

“What we don’t know is if [the foods] used in these diets in place of grains are causing the problem,” Kornreich said. “It’s also possible that could be some kind of toxin.”

Kornreich suggests pet owners switch to a brand “produced by a company with a long-standing history.”

If a pet dog is showing any symptoms of the heart condition, including decreased energy, cough or difficulty breathing, the FDA urges owners to contact a vet as soon as possible.

Warning In June 2019, the FDA implicated Fromm’s dog food in at least 10 cases of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (or DCM), a potentially fatal heart condition.

Product Lot Numbers and Best By Dates

Products are packaged in 12 ounce cans with Best By Date 08/2024. A full list of affected products is below:

  • Four-Star SHREDDED BEEF IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11877 12 oz. per can UPC 7270511876 Best By Date 082024
  • Four-Star SHREDDED CHICKEN IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11881 12 oz. per can UPC 7270511880 Best By Date 082024
  • Four-Star SHREDDED PORK IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11879 12 oz. per can UPC 7270511878 Best By Date 082024
  • Four-Star SHREDDED TURKEY IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11883 12 oz. per can UPC 7270511882 Best By Date 082024
  • There are no other Fromm products affected by this recall.

    Recalled products were distributed nationwide at neighborhood pet stores.

    Potential adverse reactions could occur in all size dogs. No reports of illness or injury have been reported from consumers to date.

    However, Fromm management has determined it is prudent to pull these four lots out of distribution.

    This voluntary recall is being made with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    Consumers should stop feeding the affected products to their dogs.

    Consumers who have purchased Fromm Four-Star Shredded Entrée canned dog food are urged to return the product to their retailer.

    Consumers with questions are invited to contact the company at 1-800-325-6331 from Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Central Time. Or they may contact Fromm at [email protected]

    U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

    Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

    Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

    It is important to note that Fromm has supplemented grain-free and grain-inclusive diets with taurine for several years. While we carefully watch for further FDA notifications and monitor the results of the various studies, we want our retailers and consumers to feel confident knowing Fromm, has and will continue to supplement recipes with taurine.

    Recently, media outlets have published headlines indicating a link between grain-free diets and DCM. This has caused many consumers to express concern about the safety of grain-free diets in general. While the headlines focus on grain-free and heart disease, the studies are specifically researching how dogs metabolize taurine and the impact of taurine on heart health.

    As you may be aware, the FDA issued an alert on July 12, 2018 in regards to the potential connection between diet and cases of canine heart disease.

    Pet parents can feed Fromm with confidence, knowing we are a family-owned-and-operated company that is dedicated to the health and well-being of pets and has been since we started producing pet food in 1949.

    Based on the FDA alert and the summary of the ongoing studies there seems to be a focus on taurine and the potential link between diet and DCM.

    The potential issue with adding taurine to this food is that not all cases of DCM are related to low taurine levels, according to a study done by University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The key associations with both taurine deficient and non-taurine deficient forms of DCM was that many dogs were being fed some variety of boutique, exotic ingredient or grain-free diets, according to an article by UC Davis.

    “He took a step and collapsed. They tried to do CPR, but they just couldn’t bring him back,” Demarici said. “We were in complete shock of what happened. Here was a seemingly very healthy dog running around literally the night before, and then he had progressed so quickly that within one week, he was dead.”

    Denman reported Odin’s medical records to the FDA, and they listed him in their public records. She also reached out to the dog food company Fromm, but they were unresponsive. They said they would call her back but never did. She sent Odin’s story to them in every way she could think of — text, email and postal mail — but did not hear anything in return. She also put Odin’s story on Fromm’s Facebook page, but it was deleted by the company shortly after she had posted it.

    Eliason looked further into Jackson’s diagnosis by going through five generations of health records to see if anyone in his bloodline had DCM in the past. Each dog in his bloodline had an echocardiogram and the results showed that no other member of Jackson’s bloodline has had DCM. This confirmed that Jackson’s DCM was diet-related.

    Dr. Joao Orvalho, a veterinarian at UC Medical Center, explained that he suspected Bob was on a grain-free diet. Orvalho told Demarici that cardiologists had been seeing an uptick in vet visits for dogs who were being fed grain-free diets. Orvalho also said that most of the dogs they had seen were diagnosed with DCM during their vet visit, yet most of them were not genetically predisposed to DCM.

    FAQ

    What is the list of dog food that causes heart disease?

    In descending order of most incidents of heart disease, the brands are 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 and Rachael Ray Nutrish.

    Why did chewy stop selling Fromm?

    Company Announcement. MEQUON, WI, (OCTOBER 1, 2021) – FROMM FAMILY FOODS is issuing a voluntary recall of approximately 5,500 cases of Fromm Shredded can Entrée dog food due to potentially elevated levels of Vitamin D. Consumers should stop feeding the products listed below to their dogs.

    Does Fromm gold cause DCM?

    Fromm believes our products are best sold by retailers who know our product and can offer pet parents what’s right for their specific dog or cat. As a result of Chewy’s sale to PetSmart, they are no longer an authorized retailer of Fromm Products.”