Grain-Free Diet

In general, we do not recommend grain-free diets. There is some evidence that they may be detrimental to certain dogs. Recent case reports suggest a possible correlation between certain diets (e.g., those labeled grain-free, some boutique brands, or unique carbohydrate sources, possibly others) and dilated cardiomyopathy, a fatal heart muscle disease known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). This is a relatively new revelation (Summer/Fall 2018), and the details are still being studied to understand what is best.

In general, we recommend reading all dog-food bags carefully and searching for the AAFCO statement, which reads, “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that food-name-brand-formula provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.” This means that the food in the bag has been through a feeding trial to prove it is safe and contains enough nutrition to support an adult dog for the life of the dog.

Our position at Center Veterinary Clinic is to feed your dog a diet that does not contain one of the following carbohydrate sources until this investigation is completed:


  • Peas, Lentils or other beans
  • Potato or Sweet Potato
  • other non-grain carbohydrate sources

This means you would feed your dog a food that contains a carbohydrate source like:

  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Quinoa, etc

To read more about what you SHOULD look for in pet foods:

You can read more about the food connection to DCM at the following links.

The Tufts Veterinary Nutrition Service blog is well-written and free of medical jargon.

Updated December 23, 2022 – The FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy: