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Study Finds No Negative Effect of Grain-Free Diets on Dogs' Heart Health

Oct 12, 2023Bark Twain
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In a newly published study performed by BSM Partners, the largest pet care research and consulting firm, grain-free diets were found to have no negative impact on cardiac function in dogs and did not lead to the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Results of the seven-month study were published in a peer-reviewed article in Frontiers in Animal Science. The research was conducted by veterinarians and animal nutritionists from pet care research and consulting firm BSM Partners and a group of board-certified veterinary cardiologists, according to a press release from BSM.

Press release: BSM Partners

“This is the longest prospective study to date evaluating diet and cardiac function,” said Dr. Stacey Leach DVM, DACVIM, an article co-author, and chief of cardiology and associate teaching professor of cardiology at the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center. “To identify any changes in cardiac function over time, our multi-disciplinary team collected and examined a wide cross-section of data.


For the study, researchers formulated four canine diets. Two diets were grain-free, contained pulse ingredients (peas and lentils) and potatoes, and included either low or high amounts of animal protein. Two diets were grain-inclusive, contained no pulse ingredients or potatoes, and included either low or high amounts of animal protein.

Researchers analyzed cardiac biomarkers, echocardiographic measurements and endomyocardial biopsies over seven months, and did not detect the development of cardiac dysfunction in any of the 65 dogs fed one of the four different diets. None of the dogs developed DCM.


“While our study was unable to identify any dietary correlation to DCM, we continue to encourage our peers to perform and publish peer-reviewed controlled studies in order to improve our understanding of cardiac function and the development of DCM,” said Dr. Stephanie Clark, PhD, CVT, PAS, CFS, Dpl. ACAS, VTS (Nutrition) of BSM Partners, an article co-author and a board-certified companion animal nutritionist.


BSM Partners is the largest full-service pet care research, consulting, and strategy-to-shelf product innovation firm. BSM Partners’ research professionals collaborate with hundreds of clients ranging from the largest companies to the smallest upstart companies to formulate, review and advise on the development of hundreds of new products each year, including grain-free and grain-inclusive dog foods, treats and supplements. To learn more, visit BSM Partners.


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