A U.S. report that raised the possibility of a link between certain pet-foodbrands and a serious heart condition is creating unnecessary panic, says aB.C. pet-food store owner.

Pet owners are confused and worried, and the results of the report are gettingdistorted in the conversation, said Lisa Nitkin of Pets West in Victoria.

“It’s like playing broken telephone with your friends,” Nitkin said. “Themessage keeps changing. The numbers are changing.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an update in late June to itsongoing investigation into a potential connection between dilatedcardiomyopathy in dogs and their diets. In the report, the FDA released forthe first time 16 brands named most frequently in DCM cases reported to it.

Vincent Denis, owner of Four Paws Pet Grocery and Boutique in Sidney, said thereport is misleading because people who get their pets tested for DCM are aself-selecting group. He said they tend to have higher incomes and feed theirdogs more expensive food.

“As a result, higher-cost foods are making the list,” Denis said, adding thisis concerning because it could encourage people to switch to lower-qualityfoods.

Denis said it’s clear more study is needed to determine what link, if any,exists between the brands listed in the FDA’s study and DCM. He emphasizedthat at the moment, the report shows a correlation between the two, but thatdoesn’t mean the foods listed in the report cause DCM.

The majority of cases reported using products that were grain-free andcontained either peas or lentils, or both. The FDA does not suggest avoidingcertain brands or diets, and said any possible link “is a complex scientificissue that may involve multiple factors.”

Nitkin said Pets West recommends owners change their food on a regular basis,because different proteins offer a different nutritional spectrum. She saidshe doesn’t think it’s necessary to stay away from the brands identified inthe report, but if owners want to, it’s important to make the switch graduallyand find an alternative with a high-quality meat protein.

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