In 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement that grain-free diets may be related to the development of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). In some FDA case reports, dogs diagnosed with DCM consuming grain-free diets also had low concentrations of plasma or whole blood taurine. While there is a known relationship between low taurine status and DCM, there are few studies published to evaluate the relationship of commercial grain-free diets and taurine status in healthy large-breed dogs.
The following study, published in the journal Translational Animal Science, determined the effects of feeding a commercial grain-free diet to large breed dogs on taurine status and overall health. The study, which was fully funded by Champion Petfoods, evaluated a small cohort of Labrador Retrievers during a 26-week feeding trial. The results suggest that the grain-free diet tested improved taurine status in this group of Labrador Retrievers. While this demonstrates that taurine status is not negatively impacted by feeding this grain-free diet, more research is required to fully understand the multifactorial etiology of DCM.
Research followed the recommendations of the Association of American Feed Controls Official (AAFCO) Canine Feeding protocols. Other factors that may contribute to the etiology of DCM should be explored.