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  • Writer's pictureDr Meredith Wall

Does buckwheat cause liver disease in dogs?

Updated: May 5

In August 2019, Professor Ellen Kienzle's research group published a paper entitled "Remarkable frequency of a history of liver disease in dogs fed homemade diets with buckwheat". We haven't previously used buckwheat in our therapeutic formulations, however I have seen it widely recommended by both owners and other nutritionists, as a carbohydrate option for dogs needing a novel protein diet. It's also more popular and more readily available in other countries, compared with Australia and New Zealand.

The study by Lineva et al. compared the incidence of liver disease in German and Russian dogs fed buckwheat, compared with a control population that were not fed buckwheat, and it was conducted over a ten year period (2007–2017). The authors found that, in Germany, the incidence of liver disease in dogs fed buckwheat was 32%, while that of the control group was 3.5% - a huge difference. In Russia, however, there was no significant difference between dogs fed buckwheat and control dogs.

Whilst the reason for the high incidence of liver disease in dogs fed German buckwheat is not yet known, the authors did observe a difference in the appearance of German vs. Russian buckwheat, and they also commented that the preparation methods may vary in the two countries. Apparently in Russia, preparation instructions recommend removing the 'scum' that forms on top of the water while cooking, while this is not frequently performed in Germany. Nutrient analysis of German and Russian buckwheat was not significantly different, and neither was the rutin content.

Unfortunately I was not able to access the full paper, however I agree with the authors of this study that, until we known more about the cause/s of the liver disease, it's wise to avoid feeding any kind of buckwheat to dogs. There are many other palatable alternatives that are likely to be novel to many dogs (for example, pearled barley, quinoa, amaranth, or pumpkin), so please get in touch if you would like advice or need a novel protein diet formulated for your dog:

If you have fed buckwheat to your dog and seen any changes in health, particularly an increase in liver enzymes, or other signs of liver disease, please contact us.

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