Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart condition that decreases the organ’s ability to pump blood properly throughout a dog’s body. This can lead to a decreased oxygen supply, weakness, and disruptions to the heart’s rhythm, which may be fatal. DCM has many potential causes, including a recently discovered potential link to some dog food ingredients. Over the past few years, researchers have been investigating1 a connection between DCM and ingredients most commonly found in grain-free dog foods, notably peas and other legumes. While the research is ongoing, dog owners may feel more comfortable serving brands without these ingredients.
If you are one of them, keep reading! We’ve rounded up reviews of what we believe are the 10 best dog foods to avoid DCM this year. After checking out our top picks, stick around for a few more points to consider as you decide on just the right diet for your dog.
A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2023)
|Best Overall||The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Subscription||
||Click to Save 50%|
|Best Value||Iams Adult MiniChunks High Protein||
|Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein||
|Best for Puppies||Purina ProPlan High Protein Dog Food||
|Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Dry Food||
The 10 Best Dog Foods To Avoid DCM
1. The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Subscription – Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, brussels sprouts, chicken liver, bok choy, broccoli|
Our choice of the overall best dog food to avoid DCM is The Farmer’s Dog Chicken Recipe. The Farmer’s Dog is an online subscription dog food company that specializes in slow-cooked food made up of simple ingredients, shipped right to your home. The recipes are targeted to your dog’s specific nutritional needs, based on their age, activity level, and any health issues. Not all of The Farmer’s Dog recipes are suitable for avoiding DCM concerns, as they contain legumes, so stick to this chicken formula.
Because it’s made of fresh ingredients and cooked in USDA-certified kitchens, The Farmer’s Dog is higher priced than some other brands on our list. The company also doesn’t ship to Alaska or Hawaii.
2. Iams MiniChunks Dry Food – Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum|
Our choice of the best dog food to avoid DCM for the money is Iams Adult MiniChunks High Protein Dry Food. Iams is a long-time, well-known manufacturer of widely available, cost-effective dog food. This food relies on chicken for its protein content and contains antioxidants, fiber, and prebiotics to support immune and digestive health. Iams food is manufactured in North America but contains some ingredients from China, which some dog owners prefer to avoid. It is made with grain and without legumes and meets our criteria for foods to avoid DCM.
Adult MinChunks is highly rated by users, with most finding it a good value. Some noted that the kibble size could be too small for larger dogs.
3. Royal Canin Veterinary Hydrolyzed Protein Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Brewer’s rice, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken fat|
For dogs with food allergies or sensitivities, consider Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein (HP) food. Many diets geared toward dogs with sensitivities are made with potatoes and legumes, ingredients possibly associated with the development of DCM. Royal Canin HP is free of these ingredients. Instead, it’s made with proteins that are broken down into particles too small to be recognized by your dog’s immune system, minimizing the chance of an allergic reaction.
HP also contains nutrients to support skin health since many allergic dogs suffer from itchy, dry, and damaged skin. This brand is only available with a prescription and can be expensive.
4. Purina ProPlan High Protein Food – Best for Puppies
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, rice, poultry by-product meal|
For puppies, especially breeds who may be prone to DCM, consider feeding Purina ProPlan High-Protein Chicken dry food. It is packed full of chicken protein to help pups build strong muscles. It also contains several other nutrients geared toward supporting a high-energy, growing dog. These include DHA for brain and vision development and calcium to help build bones and teeth. The formula is also easily digested, allowing young dogs to take advantage of all that nutrition more readily.
Purina diets are made in the USA, but some of the vitamin and mineral ingredients come from China. Most users gave this food positive reviews, although some noted concerns with frequent formula changes.
5. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, dehydrated chicken, whole spelt, whole oats|
If you’re trying to limit your dog’s carbohydrate intake while still avoiding foods potentially linked to DCM, try Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken And Pomegranate dry food. This diet is high in protein and contains nutritious fruits and vegetables like carrots, pomegranates, spinach, and blueberries. It is not only free from legumes but also protein by-products, which some dog owners also prefer to avoid. Farmina N&D contains fatty acids to boost skin and coat health. It’s made with grains that are also high in protein with vitamins added after cooking for peak nutritional value.
The company uses only non-GMO ingredients and free-range chicken. Some users mentioned that picky dogs may not like this food and that the kibble is large and thick.
6. Merrick Healthy Grains Healthy Weight
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice|
If your pet needs to shed a few pounds while avoiding DCM, the Merrick Healthy Grains Healthy Weight diet might be the right option for you. Many Merrick diets are grain-free and contain concerning ingredients, but this one is pea-and-potato-free. It also contains a blend of nutritious, high-protein grains, including quinoa. Added nutrients in this diet include glucosamine for joint health, fatty acids, and L-carnitine to speed up your pup’s metabolism. Most pet parents had positive things to say about this recipe from Merrick and reported that it seemed to help their dogs lose weight.
Because it contains chicken, Merrick Healthy Grains is not a good option for dogs with food sensitivities, and a few owners reported their dogs didn’t care for the taste.
7. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Digestion Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Salmon, cracked pearled barley, whole grain oats|
For dogs who need a little help regulating their gut health, try Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Digestion Salmon diet. This food relies on a combination of prebiotics, pumpkin, and oats to help keep your pup regular and enhance the natural digestive process. Although it’s made with an uncommon protein source, the food contains other meat products like chicken meal, so it is not a truly allergy-friendly diet. It also contains nuts in the ingredients, so humans with nut allergies should be aware.
Perfect Digestion is free of any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Some dogs may not like the taste of fish-based foods like this one.
8. Diamond Naturals All Life Stages Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice|
If you’re a dog owner who likes to support family-owned companies, consider Diamond Naturals Chicken And Rice dog food. This recipe is made in the USA, although it contains some ingredients from China and has no artificial flavors or colors. Besides the cage-free chicken, Diamond Naturals contains unique fruit and vegetable ingredients, including pumpkin, oranges, papaya, and coconut. It’s also formulated with fatty acids, probiotics and prebiotics for digestion, and antioxidants to boost the immune system.
While Diamond Naturals received positive marks from users overall, the primary complaints were related to the taste and potentially increased gassiness in some dogs.
9. Purina One SmartBlend Classic Ground Canned Food
|Main ingredients:||Beef, chicken, beef broth, liver|
If you need a canned diet that’s free of ingredients potentially linked to DCM, Purina One SmartBlend Classic Ground Beef And Brown Rice food is one option to consider. Available in a 12 or 24-can pack, this is a cost-effective canned food, although wet food, in general, tends to cost more than dry. It contains no by-products but has added glucosamine for joint health. Although this is a beef recipe, it is made with chicken as well, so it’s not suitable for dogs with poultry sensitivities.
Most users found that their dogs enjoyed the taste of this food. A few were dissatisfied with the amount of liquid in the cans, however.
10. Eukanuba Senior Large Breed Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, wheat, chicken by-product meal|
As your canine enters the golden years of life, consider feeding Eukanuba Senior Large Breed Dry Dog Food. It’s also available in small and medium breed formulations. Older dogs tend to start slowing down a bit, and this recipe contains lower calories and fat to help them stay trim when they do. Eukanuba Senior also features glucosamine to help support your dog’s aging joints and DHA to help keep their brain sharp. Added antioxidants help ward off inflammation and boost a worn-out immune system.
Some users felt that the kibble was too big for older dogs, especially those with poor dental health.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Dog Food To Avoid DCM
Now that we’ve covered some dog food options available to help avoid DCM, here are some additional points to consider as you shop.
Is Your Dog At Risk for DCM No Matter What They Eat?
While nutritional factors can play a role in the development of DCM, researchers believe there are other causes as well. Some breeds are predisposed to the condition, leading to the theory that genetics play a role in whether a dog will develop DCM. Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Great Danes, and Cocker Spaniels are all known to be at higher risk for DCM. If your dog inherits a tendency for DCM, what you feed them is important but may not help them avoid the condition entirely. Speak to your veterinarian to determine what other steps you should take, such as regular heart screenings with a veterinary cardiologist.
Does Your Dog Have Other Health Concerns?
While it’s smart to avoid foods that may be linked to DCM, you also need to take into consideration whether your dog has other health concerns that may impact your brand choices. For example, if your dog is overweight, you’ll want to look for lower-fat, lower-calorie food. Dogs with medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or bladder stones may require special diets, on the advice of a veterinarian. Of course, dogs with food allergies will have very delicate dietary needs.
How Old Is Your Dog?
Each life stage your dog enters will have varying nutritional requirements. Because of this, diets formulated for puppies, adults, and senior dogs will also vary in the nutrients they provide. Help your dog stay healthy by starting your food search among the options for their specific life stage.
Are There Other Ingredients You’re Trying to Avoid?
Besides avoiding ingredients that raise concerns for DCM, dog owners often have other concerns when it comes to dog food. For example, many owners prefer to avoid by-products, although their use in pet food is safe, nutritious, and helps cut down on food waste. Others try to feed only non-GMO products or avoid ingredients sourced from China. You’ll need to take these other preferences into account when you’re selecting dog food.
As our best overall dog food to avoid DCM, The Farmer’s Dog Chicken Recipe offers customized nutrition and fresh ingredients. Our best value pick, Iams MiniChunks, is cost-effective and widely available in most stores. Royal Canin HP allows allergy sufferers to avoid potential DCM ingredients safely. Purina ProPlan Puppy offers nutrition designed for healthy growth, and Farmina N&D is a low-carb, non-GMO option packed with fruits and veggies.
Hopefully, our reviews of these 10 dog foods provide insight into what diets are available if you’re concerned about avoiding DCM.