Grain Free Diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Pat called in with two questions: why didn’t her vet find her dogs’ cancers sooner, and does grain-free dog food cause heart disease?
Today’s episode touches on the challenge of diagnosing cancer, and then dives into diet-related dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

In 2018 the FDA reported an increase in DCM in dogs that do not fit the typical profile for breeds predisposed to this heart condition, and a correlation with grain-free, boutique diets that are high in legumes.

Research is still ongoing to find out exactly why these diets are associated with DCM in dogs. Dr. Nancy Reese, Dr. Kendra Pope, and vet tech Kate Basedow weigh in on the different factors you need to consider when choosing what to feed your dog.

Links & Resources Mentioned in Today’s Show: 
- The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity -
- Volition’s Nu.Q™ Vet Cancer Screening Test at Texas A&M -
- Balance IT -
- Cummings Veterinary Medical School at Tufts articles on diet-related DCM -

Related Links:
WSAVA Guidelines on Selecting Pet Food -
- FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy -

About Today’s Guest, Dr. Nancy Reese:
Dr. Nancy Reese is a small animal veterinarian with over 30 years of clinical experience taking care of cats and dogs and other critters in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In addition to her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of California, Davis, she earned a Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis and then a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at UC Davis.

About Today’s Guest, Dr. Kendra Pope:
Dr. Pope began her academic career as a graduate of Virginia Tech in 2005 and went on to complete veterinary school at the University of Florida. Dr. Pope went on to complete a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, which was followed by a three-year residency in medical oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. She successfully obtained board certification in her specialty of oncology and became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2015. Dr. Pope’s holistic training is an ongoing journey.

About Today’s Guest, Kate Basedow, LVT:
Kate grew up training and showing dogs, and her passion for canines has affected all parts of her life. She earned a BA in English from Cornell University and an AAS in Veterinary Science from SUNY Delhi, and is a licensed veterinary technician in the state of New York. She worked in small-animal practice for four years and is now the associate producer of Dog Cancer Answers.


For episode notes, resources, guest bios and a transcript, please visit

Helpful Resources:  
To join the private Facebook group for readers of Dr. Dressler’s book “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide” go to

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