Atlanta couple warning dog owners about grain-free diets

CNN/ Newswire | 8/10/2020, 12:02 p.m.

By Melissa Stern

ATLANTA, GA (WGCL) -- A Georgia couple is warning others about a special diet for dogs after their perfectly healthy Golden Retriever suddenly died.

“We had a gorgeous Golden Retriever named Charlie,” said Jack Parrott.

“We did not treat him like a dog, he was a member of our family,” added Kathleen Parrott.

Jack and Kathleen Parrott got Charlie when he was just 12 weeks old.

“Four years is a long time, we’ve been through a lot together, he’s seen us through a lot, and it’s just a devastating loss,” added Kathleen.

They started him on a grain-free diet 8 months ago after researching foods that would help him with his allergies.

“We read countless reviews and they were all singing praises,” Kathleen said.

They thought they were doing the right thing for Charlie, a healthy, extremely active dog.

But they said the decision turned out to be deadly.

“About ten days ago, literally no symptoms, no signs, I was playing with him as it happened, he dropped in front of me, and passed away within a couple minutes,” Jack added, “We started looking for answers, and discovered there are a lot of cases, and a lot of research being done showing a correlation between grain-free food and heart issues, especially in Golden Retrievers.”

Morgan Tannenbaum, a veterinarian, says while more research needs to be done on the subject, certain at-risk, larger breeds of dogs, can develop heart disease from grain-free diets.

“If that food was Taurine deficient, or deficient in the building blocks that a dog would need to make Taurine, then Goldens are prone to getting dilated cardiomyopathy,” Tannenbaum said.

Tannenbaum said Taurine is an essential amino acid important for heart health found in many animal proteins. He recommended you consult with your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.

“We want to save others from the pain that we’ve experienced,” said Kathleen.

The Parrotts said their online reviews about grain-free dog food keep getting deleted. Now, they’re warning other dog owners, as they feel their heartbreak could have been avoided.

“We just hope that other people can learn and not make the same mistake we did,” Kathleen said.