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

Addressing the DCM Concern

June 27, 2019

Update: On 6/27/19, the FDA released a third status report on the investigation into the potential link between certain diets and DCM. This update shares a list of reports of DCM received by the FDA between January 1, 2014 through April 30th, 2019, and includes specific pet food brands most frequently named in DCM reports to the FDA.

The diets named on the report include both grain-free and grain-inclusive diets. This report notes that, “At this stage of the investigation, the FDA cannot attest to whether or how these case reports are linked to diet,” and that “To date, the FDA has not established why certain diets may be associated with the development of DCM in some dogs.”

Stella & Chewy’s has not been contacted by the FDA and continues to have no indication that any of Stella & Chewy’s products are involved in the FDA’s investigation. None of our products were fed as the primary diet in the FDA’s shared list of DCM reports. Additionally, our brand was not included in any charts with most frequently named diets in shared DCM reports

The updated FDA report notes that the FDA cannot attest to whether or how DCM reported cases are linked to diet and that the agency does not advise any dietary changes based solely on the information gathered.  As noted in the report, the FDA continues to believe the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors and the actual cause has yet to be determined.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States and of that population 0.5% to 1% have DCM, and of those dogs with DCM, only approximately 0.1% are speculated to have DCM related to diet, although that is not scientifically proven.

The diets named on the report include both grain-free and grain-inclusive diets.  Only 1.7% of reported cases represent raw diets, none of which are Stella & Chewy’s. While our raw diets are grain free, they are free of all peas, pulses, potatoes, lentils, chickpeas and are 90-95% meat organ and bones, with wholesome organic fruits and vegetables

Our Baked Raw Coated and Raw Blend kibble recipes emphasize meat and organ ingredients as they are 65-70% meat and animal ingredients. The first two ingredients for all of our kibble options are animal protein based and all our diets are potato free. We have always supplemented all our raw and kibble diets with taurine as an added ingredient to confidently provide a readily available source.

Based on the FDA’s release, no one animal protein was predominant in reported cases and it does not appear to link to specific proteins or exotic animal proteins

We do want to share that Stella & Chewy’s utilizes our expert formulation team, including veterinarians and an animal nutritionist with their PhD in animal nutrition, to deliver products designed to meet the safest and most nutritious dietary standards and we have a 16 year track record of making quality pet food.

We will continue to monitor this investigation and collaborate to understand DCM and its possible causes.  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 info@stellaandchewys.com

 

Original post:

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 has just introduced a limited offering of best-in-class, wholesome, grain-inclusive kibble. 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 info@stellaandchewys.com.

 

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

 

FAQs on DCM

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 info@stellaandchewys.com

 

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 and baked kibble products are manufactured in our own facility in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  Our Stella’s Essentials and cat kibble products are manufactured at our co-manufacturers in Utah and Nebraska.  Our wet food products for cats and dogs 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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