Chickpeas and Peas are two of the core ingredients in Earthbones, and are vital to making earthbones as effective as it is in controlling tartar - while providing a rich and healthy ingredient profile.
Much has been written about these two ingredients recently, especially as they relate to kibble and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This blog post will explore these concerns and why chickpeas and peas provide so much value to dogs when included in dental chews.
Creating a Functional Dental Chew
The primary purpose of a dental chew is to clean teeth and leave breath smelling fresh. To do this effectively, a dental chew must be both soft enough to allow teeth to sink in, while at the same time being coarse enough to scrape plaque away from the teeth. Creating this balance isn't easy, especially when you're also avoiding any artificial ingredients or simple carbohydrates that cause glucose spikes!
Enter chickpeas and peas, two remarkably coarse starches. These ingredients are not only rich, complex carbohydrates but strike the difficult balance of being rough enough to remove plaque while also forming the base of a sturdy yet flexible chew. We challenge anyone to find functional base ingredients that check all three boxes so completely as our blend of chickpea and pea starches. Without these amazing ingredients, earthbones wouldn't be the healthy, functional dental bone that it is.
What About DCM Links to Legumes?
Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is at the center of a new and important investigation being conducted by the FDA, and may be linked to certain pet foods. One of the links being studied between these foods is the use of certain legumes and pulses, including peas and chickpeas as a main ingredient in these diets.
As with any medical study, it's best to start by understanding scope and context. From the FDA's official FAQ, #17 on DCM¹:
To put this issue into proper context, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of April 30, 2019, the FDA has received reports about 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet.
According to the FDA, diet-linked DCM has been identified in about 0.0008% of dogs. By contrast, dental disease affects over 80% of dogs above the age of 3. To put it plainly, diet-linked DCM is extraordinarily rare. We hope that one day dental disease will get the same attention, considering that for every confirmed case of diet-linked DCM there are 100,000 dogs suffering from dental disease.
DCM and Earthbones
The FDA's investigation concerns cases where legumes and pulses are among the main constituents of a dog's diet. Specifically, if there is a risk when these ingredients are fed in excess, possibly because it leads to the exclusion of other ingredients that provide needed nutrients, such as taurine. The FDA is not investigating if these ingredients are inherently unhealthy, rather if they are appropriate as one of the main ingredients in a dog's diet. Earthbones is a small treat, not a diet and should never make up a significant portion of a dog's calorie intake.
Isn't Pea Starch a Filler Ingredient?
Pea starch is high in protein, and for that reason kibble manufacturers like to include it in their formulations to boost up their protein percentage. Earthbones is not intended to be a complete and balanced diet and we're not concerned with how much protein is in our dental bones. Instead, we're completely focused on ensuring our product cleans teeth, is highly digestible and is part of an overall healthy diet for dogs. When it comes to these three attributes, pea and chickpea starch stand alone. See the section above entitled "Creating a Functional Dental Chew" for what makes these ingredients so effective.