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Yukon's top vet raises alarm over specialty dog food possibly linked to canine heart condition

Yukon's chief veterinarian is advising dog owners to talk to their vets about dog foods that have been associated with canine heart disease. Mary VanderKop says there have been two reported cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in Yukon.

2 cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy have been reported in Yukon

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is studying 16 brands of specialty dog food, many of which are labelled as "grain-free." (The Associated Press)

Yukon's chief veterinarian is advising dog owners to talk to their vets about dog foods that have been associated with a potentially deadly canine heart disease.

Mary VanderKop said there have been two reported cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in Yukon.

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was studying the link between the disease and specialty dog foods. 

VanderKop said foods labelled "grain-free" are of particular concern.  

"Cause and effect has not been established at this point, but the link is of concern," she said. 

"It does seem to be linked to a high proportion of things like peas or lentils or ... potatoes as the main ingredients, rather than grain in dog food."

Mary VanderKop says two cases of canine heart disease in the Yukon have been linked to the dogs' diets. (CBC)

Canine dilated cardiomyopathy causes the muscle wall of a dog's heart to thin, weakening the organ and making it harder to pump blood. Congestive heart failure, a buildup of fluid in the chest and abdomen, can result. Affected dogs may seem tired, lose weight and suddenly collapse.

Last summer, the FDA identified 16 brands of dog foods — 91 per cent of them labelled "grain free" — that it says are most frequently associated with the disease.

They 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
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish 

Many of these brands are sold online and at least two of them are sold in the Yukon. 

With files from Kas Roussy and Melanie Glanz

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