Partners support study aimed at evaluating health effects of pulses in dog food


Canada’s plant-based value chain is vast, extending beyond the farm-to-fork linkages to land in places one doesn’t immediately think of—including our dogs’ beloved food bowls. Since 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been investigating the role of pulse-based ingredients and grain-free diets in dogs, particularly related to their heart health.

Up until now, little research has been done to examine the association between pulse ingredients and rates of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)—a thinning and stretching of the heart chambers—in dogs. This has limited the use of pulse ingredients, including Canadian pulses, in dog food. Reducing the research gap in canine diet and nutrition is where Pulse Canada, AGT Food and Ingredients, BSM Partners, and other research grantors are focusing their efforts.

“Variety in food options extends beyond our own plates into that of our pets, due to anything from allergens to simple preference or choice,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “There’s an opportunity to expand our pet food options to include Canadian pulse ingredients, while also ensuring we’re not putting our pets’ health at risk. This research is an important step forward in that area, and I look forward to seeing the results.”

With a co-investment from Protein Industries Canada, these partners have launched a study that aims to address knowledge gaps related incidence of canine DCM and pulse ingredients in dog foods. BSM Partners, solely responsible for study design and implementation, is a leading full-service pet care research, consulting and strategy-to-shelf product innovation firm staffed by a team of board-certified veterinarian nutritionists, veterinarians, animal nutritionists and other scientists.

The project’s research work involves directly comparing dog foods with and without pulse ingredients on cardiac function in dogs, helping better establish the relationship between each ingredient and dogs’ heart health. While similar to other research projects studying the effects of pulses on dog heart health, the project is unique in that it also aims to evaluate the effects of diets on cardiac function and various metabolic pathways to evaluate plausible mechanisms of action. The study began in February 2021, with results yet to be released.

“Should the results prove that pulse-based diets in dogs lead to adequate nutrition levels and cardiac function, it would validate the use of pulse-based ingredients in promoting dogs’ health and wellness,” said Greuel. “This validation would help re-open the U.S. dog food market to Canada’s pulse sector—strengthening the sector and Canada’s economy, while offering dog owners across North America new options for feeding their furry friends.”