Putting our minds at ease about DCM and grain-free diets

Read time: 4 mins

13 Aug 2020

By David Nolan


Healthier and happier dogs, everywhere

Before I go into the FDA report and what we are doing about it, it's important to say this:

As a company, Butternut Box has always held the highest standards for the food that we make. Healthier and happier dogs, everywhere - that's always been the mission. Kev and I started to cook the meals that we cook because we knew we could deliver a better option to dogs. And that better option always needs to have healthy and safe food at the centre of it. We would never accept anything less. That's why, in everything that we do, any information that can help us make better, safer food for our customers, is something that we will always take very seriously and do the work on.

There has been lots of information flying around about the FDA report that was released last year and we've gone through every piece of it with a fine tooth comb. I'm going to try and keep this blog post as short, clear and concise as possible.

Some background

A report shared by the FDA last summer (July 2018) - all of which we have listened to and have worked through bit by bit - is investigating the link between certain grain-free diets and a heart disease called DCM. As a company that offers grain-free food for dogs, we knew it was really important to focus on the facts that would inform the careful next steps we needed to take.

From our own research and consultation with academics and experts in the nutrition space, the report throws up more questions than answers. Our view is that the report has been prematurely released and doesn't give us enough robust information to make the decision to change the ingredients we put in our food. It's also worth noting that the report is not based on scientific research, it's based on a collection of data from a very small number of dogs in the U.S. All of the scientific evidence available points to the fact that Butternut Box recipes are nutritionally balanced and complete, contain more than the required levels of amino acids, and once fed, our food is highly digestible when compared to almost any other food available.

How we are moving forward, now that we know the facts

As funny as it might sound, neither Kev nor I (nor anyone we work with), has any personal connection or attachment to lentils, peas and beans (the stuff we use instead of grain). We could, in theory, change our recipes to eliminate those ingredients very quickly.

But the fact is, a large number of the dogs that we feed had previously struggled to find a food that worked for them. So before we make big changes to our recipes (that do work for the dogs we feed), we need to see the scientific proof that our food could cause harm.

At the moment, all we have is scientific data that shows our food is extremely high quality, it is nutritionally balanced and complete, and the vast majority of dogs that are fed our food absolutely thrive on it.

We will always do what we think is best for our customers based on all of the information we have available. If anyone presents us with any peer-reviewed scientific research that gives us new information to base our decisions on, we will absolutely welcome them with open arms and review everything we are doing with a fresh pair of eyes. We are completely open to making wholesale changes to our recipes if that becomes the right thing to do based on the evidence we have available. Until that point, we will be watching developments closely, continuing to talk to experts in the nutrition space, and continuing to make the best possible food for dogs that we can.

If you fancy reading a bit more about the report; what DCM means - and what can cause it, a breakdown of what goes into our food and how we cook it, and every other step we took to make sure that we had enough fact-based evidence to continue using the ingredients we use, then click here. A word of warning: it's long. But I've tried to break some things down and speak to our customers and dog lovers reading it, in a language that isn't jargon-heavy. We hope this helps.