Is Costco Dog Food Good? Kirkland Dog Food and DCM

Costco is one of the most popular bulk shopping options for people who are looking to save on great deals – including dog food!

However, some may have concerns over the quality of the dog food that Costco sells. Is it trustworthy and healthy? Can we trust a big chain store to sell quality dog food at cost-saving prices?

The answer may not be so simple. The dog food brand that Costco sells is called Kirkland, which may be linked to dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.

In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about Kirkland and whether it is the right option for your dog.

What is Kirkland Dog Food?

Kirkland Signature is a dog food brand that is owned by Diamond, and they offer a range of dog food options under this brand. The nutritional information and ingredients can vary depending on the specific formula and type of dog food (dry kibble, wet food, etc.). Here is some general information about Kirkland Signature dog food:

  1. Ingredients: Kirkland Signature dog food typically contains high-quality ingredients, including real meat (such as chicken, beef, or lamb) as the primary ingredient. They often include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in their formulas.
  2. Formulas: Kirkland Signature offers different formulas to cater to dogs with varying needs, such as puppy, adult, and senior dog formulas. They may also have specialized formulas for specific breeds or dietary requirements.
  3. Nutritional Balance: Kirkland Signature aims to provide a balanced and nutritious diet for dogs. Their formulas usually include a proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support a dog’s overall health and well-being.
  4. Grain-Free Options: Kirkland Signature also offers grain-free dog food options for dogs with grain sensitivities or dietary preferences. These formulas typically use alternative carbohydrate sources like potatoes or peas.

Kirkland Products and DCM

Although a peer-reviewed study is yet to be published, many reports of dogs developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) after being fed Kirkland dog food.

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition that affects the heart muscle in dogs. It is characterized by the dilation (enlargement) of the heart chambers, specifically the left ventricle, which leads to the weakening of the heart muscle and its inability to pump blood effectively. This results in reduced cardiac function and can lead to various symptoms and health complications.

DCM can have multiple causes, including genetic predisposition, nutritional deficiencies, and certain underlying health conditions. However, in recent years, there has been concern about a potential link between certain types of dog food and the development of DCM, particularly in breeds that are not typically predisposed to the disease.

Some studies have suggested a potential association between the development of DCM and diets that are grain-free and/or contain ingredients such as peas, lentils, legumes, or potatoes as the primary sources of carbohydrates. However, the exact relationship between diet and DCM is still not fully understood, and ongoing research is being conducted to investigate this further.

Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs
Fatigue or weakness
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Coughing, especially during or after exercise
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Reduced appetite or weight loss
Fainting or collapsing
Abdominal distension or fluid accumulation
Swollen limbs (edema)
Restlessness or discomfort
Pale or bluish gums
Decreased tolerance for exercise
Sudden onset of hind limb weakness or lameness (in some cases)

It’s important to note that DCM can also occur in dogs with no dietary factors involved and can have a genetic or other underlying cause. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog may be experiencing any heart-related issues or if you have concerns about their diet.

If your dog is diagnosed with DCM, treatment typically involves managing symptoms, improving heart function, and addressing any underlying causes or contributing factors. This may include medications, dietary adjustments, and supportive care to help improve the quality of life for the affected dog. Regular veterinary check-ups and monitoring are crucial for dogs diagnosed with DCM.

Why Diamond Pet Foods (and Kirkland) Is Controversial

Diamond Pet Foods owns Kirkland and produces dog food for Costco. There are many documented cases of dogs who develop Nutritionally Mediated Dilated Cardiomyopathy (NM-DCM) after consistently being fed Kirkland dog food.

In fact, there is a large Facebook group called Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs, which discusses information concerning DCM cases in dogs who are fed particular diets or brands. The group consists of almost 130,000 members, including veterinarians, nutrient suppliers, brand representatives, and many dog owners who want to know more about the link between DCM and improper diet. The group has stringent fact-checking requirements and appears to be a great source of information for pet owners.

Diamond Does Not Have Adequate Consultation Staff

According to the Pet Nutrition Alliance, Diamond Pet Foods only consults with a nutritionist who has a Masters Degree in animal nutrition. This is in direct contrast to what is listed on Diamond’s own website:

Strong relationships with our trusted suppliers ensure we only source quality ingredients. These foods were developed using our proprietary formulation technology and a team of experts and scientists incorporating the latest research from many disciplines: veterinary medicine (DVMs), pet food nutrition (PhD), food microbiology (PhD), as well as food production and food science.

Diamond Pet Foods

Based on the Pet Nutrition Alliance 2023 Pet Food Manufacturer Evaluation Report, Kirkland and Diamond did not respond to their questions regarding food manufacturing.

is costco dog food good

Diamond, and by extension Kirkland, do not seem to be upfront about how they are specifically evaluating their manufacturing processes or ensuring adequate standards for dog nutrition.

Diamond Pet Foods owns Taste of the Wild, Nutra-Gold, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, and others that are variations of Diamond or Nutra. They do not disclose what other company brands they supply food manufacturing for.

A 2019 FDA report discussed the link between DCM and several popular dog food brands. Taste of the Wild was the third-highest brand listed in DCM cases.

I Fed My Dog Kirkland Dog Food – What Now?

Don’t panic! While there seems to be a correlation between dogs developing DCM while being fed Kirkland, that does not mean your dog has, or will, develop DCM too.

  1. Consult with your veterinarian: They are specialists in dog nutrition and can assuage your worries. If you have concerns about your dog’s health, create a plan with your veterinarian.
  2. Echocardiogram: It is recommended to perform a cardiogram every 6 months on your dog if they have been fed Kirkland dog food. That way, you can monitor their health for any concerning signs or symptoms.
  3. Switch dog food brands: There are 5 recommended brands that meet the best guidelines currently on the market. The brands are Purina, Hills, Iams, Royal Canin, and Eukanuba. In fact, one treatment option for dogs with DCM often recommended by vets is to switch to one of these diets. However, consult with your vet for specific information before making changes to your dog’s diet.

Conclusion – Kirkland May Cause Dilated Cardiomyopathy

So, is Costco dog food good? Kirkland dog food has plenty of anecdotal and documented cases of being linked to DCM. As such, it is better to stay away and consider other options for your dog. The WSAVA Global Veterinary Community has an excellent list of global nutrition guidelines for dog food owners and specialists. This is one of many accredited resources that you can read to stay informed on the best food practices tailored for your pup.

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