Trust and DCM Concerns

Pet Lovers have always trusted Champion Petfoods’ ORIJEN and ACANA as the pet food brands they can feed their pets with absolute confidence. We at Champion understand that Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) may be a concern for some pet lovers, and we are providing the information below to help them navigate this important discussion.

DCM is a rare but serious condition. Of note, of the 77 million dogs in the U.S., 0.5% to 1% have DCM, and of those dogs with DCM, approximately 0.1% are speculated to have DCM related to diet, although that is not scientifically proven. It is more prevalent in certain breeds, especially many larger dogs. While the cause of DCM is unknown, it has recently been speculated by some that grain-free foods containing certain carbohydrates could potentially lead to a deficiency of the amino acid taurine in some dogs. Insufficient taurine in the body has been linked to DCM in several species of animals, including dogs. The carbohydrates cited in those reports cover a broad category of ingredients classified as legumes, which includes peas and lentils. In the recipes Champion makes, we emphasize fresh and raw meat with total animal-derived ingredients ranging from 60 to 85 percent of the finished product. Legumes are not a significant feature in Champion’s recipes, and never have been.

Upon being informed of these new questions about DCM, the FDA issued a report stating that further scientific research needs to be done to determine if there is a connection between diet and DCM. That research will take some time to complete. As Pet Lovers ourselves, we care deeply about any issue that affects the health and wellness of pets. Champion carries out exhaustive research internally and with independent labs and works with industry leaders to support the research in pet nutrition, including DCM. While we continue to focus on this essential work, it is important to again note than no connection between DCM and any diet has been proven.

Champion’s Work on DCM:

  • We held two long-term feeding trials with enhanced DCM protocols on two different breeds of dogs – Beagles and Labs. We do these trials regularly on all of our diets, but we enhanced these trials to measure taurine levels in blood to see how diet impacted taurine levels over time. Not only did the dogs appear to enjoy the diet(s), the results were very positive, and all dogs did very well on our foods. We specifically tested ACANA Pork and Squash in these trials but generally have tested all of our product families in both ACANA and ORIJEN brands over the past few years.
  • We completed studies on starch, fiber, and amino acids including taurine in all our ACANA and ORIJEN diets. We compared across other industry diets that are both grain-based and grain-free. The purported theories around dietary links to DCM were not validated in any way in the data.
  • We performed digestibility and bioavailability studies of amino acids on different diets, with positive results.
  • We are actively working internally and with other industry leaders to research and learn more about DCM
  • Champion’s senior nutrition scientist is working with a committee of nutrition experts from other pet food companies who meet regularly to review any DCM developments, research data, and evaluate ideas to continue to study and understand this topic.
  • We continuously evaluate all nutrients in our dog foods with the goal of constant improvement and evolution of Champion’s recipes. Many of our foods have been recently enhanced or reformulated where required. Our NorthStar ACANA Singles foods were updated with the addition of taurine, while our DogStar ACANA Singles were reformulated with taurine supplementation and more meat inclusions. This enhanced meat inclusion will be made to our NorthStar Singles food as well, in 2020.
  • Our Biologically Appropriate foods mission is based on the best available research at any one time, including research into DCM. As more facts become known and accepted, Champion adjusts its foods accordingly with the ultimate goal of creating an ideal or optimal nutrient range for dog foods.
  • We created the Champion Transparency Council, opening our doors to established independent veterinarians and to Pet Lovers in the spirit of true openness.
  • There is still much to be learned about DCM. Of the 77 million dogs in the U.S., 0.5% to 1% have DCM, and of those dogs with DCM, approximately 0.1% are speculated to have DCM related to diet, although that is not scientifically proven. There is no causative scientific data drawing conclusions or providing any evidence that links our foods, or any grain-free foods, to DCM.

    Trusted by Pet Lovers

    While we and the industry work to learn more about DCM, you can trust that Champion foods (ACANA and ORIJEN) are safe for your pets. From our company’s founding in 1975, we have worked to source the highest quality ingredients and to source them whenever possible from local suppliers. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build the most sanitary, most state-of-the-art pet food facilities in the world; in fact, our operations surpass most human food production facilities. We make the food ourselves, we don’t use contract producers, so you can trust that ACANA and ORIJEN are made in strict accordance to our own recipes from high quality ingredients. And we employ food scientists and nutritionists who hold numerous PhD’s, MSc’s and who, along with our in-house veterinarian, test and research our foods every day. So, if you want to know if you can trust Champion, we ask that you judge us by our actions, not by unproven theories or by what others may say about us. Champion’s goal has always been to make the World’s Best Petfood, and to earn the trust of Pet Lovers everywhere.

    MEDIA RESPONSE TO DCMDCM FAQ’s