Addressing the DCM Concern - Stella & Chewy's Pet Food

Addressing the DCM Concern

April 10, 2019

Stella & Chewy’s is dedicated to making safe, wholesome, and nutritious pet food – and has been since our beginning 16 years ago.  Our priority is producing safe food products that are nutritionally sound and allow pets to thrive. The recent concerns surrounding dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, and the continuing FDA investigation into the disease, has garnered questions for us and our pet parents.  We want to address the ongoing investigation as well as communicate to pet parents that we remain confident in our diets.

Stella & Chewy’s products are formulated by an animal nutritionist and reviewed by a veterinarian to assure they meet appropriate AAFCO guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition.  Although our products have not been listed as part of FDA communications regarding the disease, we see this as an industry wide opportunity. We know all resources and research done to understand the disease will benefit pet food producers.  We continue to have confidence that our formulations deliver appropriate dietary attributes. Our diets include taurine, which is an essential nutrient that dogs have a varying ability to naturally synthesize. We have always chosen to add taurine to each diet to provide a readily available source.

The current stance by the FDA is that DCM is a complex and scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.  Those multiple factors discussed have included genetic predisposition, diet adequacy of essential nutrients, and synthesis of nutrients by the dog’s body.  According to their latest update, the FDA stated that, “It’s important to note that the reports include dogs that have eaten grain-free and grain containing foods, and also include vegetarian or vegan formulations. They also include all forms of diets: kibble, canned, raw and home-cooked. This is why we do not think these cases can be explained simply by whether or not they contain grains, or by brand or manufacturer.”* 2/19/19

Additionally, the FDA is not advising dietary changes based solely on the information gathered so far. Industry experts have stated that the true cause of the increase in DCM in dogs may take years to uncover. While we continue to be confident in our grain-free diets, Stella & Chewy’s is exploring a limited offering of best-in-class, wholesome, grain-inclusive diets. We do believe it is our responsibility to hear and consider our community’s needs and provide an array of solutions that best meet the needs of our consumers.


If you have any concerns about DCM or other health issues, we encourage you to reach out to your own veterinarian to discuss the best options for your dog’s individual needs. If you have further questions about our brand specifically, please reach out to our team at


*If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to read the latest FAQ from the FDA.



Q: Does Stella and Chewy’s cause DCM?
A: To date, the FDA has stated that there is no conclusive evidence that any particular brand of pet food causes DCM. We do know that our food has been safely fed for 16 years, and Stella & Chewy’s meets all nutritional and regulatory standards for pet food (AAFCO nutrition standards). Additionally, our products and other grain-free diets have been fed for decades with no known causative issue. Our responsibility as pet parents and industry members who care deeply about pet health has led us to be engaged in studying and researching this topic along with other third party experts.  We are participating in an industry collective of nutritional scientists to collaboratively evaluate opportunities for research to understand DCM and its possible causes.


Q: Does Stella and Chewy’s food meet WSAVA guidelines or is Stella and Chewy’s working towards meeting those guidelines?
A: WSAVA guidelines relate primarily to veterinarians and one-on-one evaluations. In terms of food guidelines, WSAVA provides recommendations/recommended questions for pet parents when it comes to selecting the best pet food for their pet; we have shared answers to those recommended questions below. If you have further concerns, please reach out to our team at


Q: Who formulates your foods?
A: Our products are formulated under the guidance of a PhD animal nutritionist and reviewed thoroughly by our cooperating team of veterinarians.


Q: Are your diets tested using AAFCO feeding trials or by formulation to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles?
A:  Our complete and balanced diet pet food products meet AAFCO Dog Food Nutritional requirements.  This is verified through review of the diet recipe and product by the animal nutritionist and testing of the food product for those required nutrients. We continue to verify that our diets meet the nutritional adequacy expected at a prescribed frequency. We do not feel that feeding trials are the best, or the most scientific way to ensure that our products are complete and balanced. To be considered a “complete and balanced diet,” pet food must either meet one of the Dog or Cat Food Nutrient Profiles established by AAFCO or pass a feeding trial using AAFCO procedures. We do the former. Our products proudly meet appropriate AAFCO requirements based on the nutrient profile (formulation).  We feel that this is the most precise and consistent way to provide pets with the premium nutrition they deserve. In addition, WSAVA also states in their recommendations that, “While feeding trials help to test for the food’s nutritional adequacy, the use of feeding trials does not guarantee that the food provides adequate nutrition under all conditions.”


Q: Where are your foods produced and manufactured?
A:  Our raw food products are manufactured in our facility in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  Our kibble products are manufactured in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and at our co-manufacturer in Oklahoma.  Our wet food products are made in a human-grade facility in Wisconsin.


Q: What specific quality control measures do you use to assure the consistency and quality of your ingredients and the end product?
A:  The safety of our products is managed through our FSMA required Food Safety Program which includes a specific HACCP program for each variety of food product produced.  Each of our co-manufacturing partners also operates under their FSMA required Food Safety Program.  We continue to verify the products have met the food safety program requirements by requiring finished goods microbiological testing.  All results continue to be published on our website.

The nutritional adequacy of the products is measured through sampling of the finished goods and comparing those results to labeling claims and AAFCO requirements.  Our recipes have been designed to deliver the complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages.  Our specialty diets, as declared on the product labeling, are designed to assure that the particular life stage nutritional adequacy is met.

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