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Friday, June 19, 2020

"150+ Study Analysis Shows No Link between Grain-free and DCM?" Not quite.

In reality, the publication in question is not truly a study, and it certainly doesn’t qualify as a meta-analysis. This is a non-systematic literature review, meaning the authors did not discuss their methodology for acquiring relevant literature, nor did they compare or combine analyses from the different studies on the subject.

Some other issues:
  • Of the 150+ cited sources, only FOUR are actual studies on the current issue of DCM and grain-free/legume-rich/non-traditional/BEG diets. Two are literature reviews on the current issue. Three represent different iterations of the FDA investigation (not a study). Only a handful more pertain to (different types of) diet-associated DCM at all. The majority are on other forms of DCM.
  • While existing research has not demonstrated a definitive causal relationship, it has suggested a definitive correlation. To say there is “no link” is simply disingenuous.
  • Study authors omit discussion on the significance of observed reversal of DCM in dogs following diet change.
  • Study authors mis-characterize the need for medical recommendations in the presence of clinical observations, even in the absence of definitive research.
  • Study authors disclose no conflict of interest, but four of the five work for the consulting group that formulates for Zignature, the second-most frequently named brand in the FDA update. One is named as Zignature’s veterinarian on staff.
  • Study authors extrapolate the overall presence of DCM in the general population using data on the prevalence of DCM in dogs presented to speciality hospitals. Dogs with severe disease, particularly disease that must be diagnosed and treated by a specialist, will always be over-represented in speciality hospital patients. Healthy dogs don’t go to specialists, so the population of dogs at a speciality clinic won’t be representative of the general population.
  • Media outlets are citing “veterinary cardiologists” as part of the research group, but only one single study author is a cardiologist.

The propagation of these headlines is dangerous and puts the lives of dogs at risk. Pet owners need to be discerning. Please be mindful of what you share and consider naming these issues if you see someone sharing these articles.

Read more on diet-associated DCM: