What is Taurine in Dog Food?

Terrier Spaniel in grass

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Taurine is not just another dangerous chemical added to dog food 

Your dog needs a balanced diet that includes vitamins and organic compounds for optimal health and normal growth. Taurine is a member of the nutrient family called amino acids. The role it plays in the body composition and health of your dog is significant. It contributes to the functioning of Doggo’s heart, eyes, intestinal tract, muscles, bile and organs.

Taurine deficiency and the heart

Interestingly, dogs can produce taurine through synthesis after consumption of methionine and cystine. These are amino acids containing sulfur. In general, taurine is not typically an essential additive to dog food because dogs’ bodies produce it from some nutritional components.

Some larger breed dogs are the exception. This is because the rate at which their bodies produce taurine is significantly slower than small breeds, putting them at risk of a taurine deficiency.

Remember, I mentioned it promotes muscle function, and the heart is the most important muscle in the body. Thus, dogs with taurine deficiency could develop a condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathty, or DCM. If their taurine levels are too low, the heart weakens and struggles to pump blood efficiently.

How to recognize taurine deficiency?

If you want to make sure you pick up the signs of a lack of taurine before DCM causes permanent damage, keep a lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Excessive panting at a state of rest
  • Fainting or collapsing
  • Blood presence in the urine
  • Signs of pain while urinating
  • Generalized abdominal and pelvic pain or tenderness
  • Moderate or even severe blindness

If you notice even one of these symptoms, it would be wise to get your vet to test Doggo’s blood.

Should you add taurine to your dog food?

The cooking process causes the loss of as much as 50% of the naturally occurring taurine in meat. For that reason, dog food manufacturers add additional taurine to their kibbled or canned food. If the label of your dog food says “complete and balanced,” the contents include the necessary minerals, vitamins and organic compounds your pup needs.

However, there is evidence that certain giant breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Newfoundlands and Golden Retrievers have genetic predispositions to low or insufficient taurine. This is because the congenital defect prevents the dog’s body from producing taurine naturally.

What are the sources of taurine?

You might want to add treats or toppers as an additional source of taurine. Natural sources include shellfish, fish, poultry and meat. Note that the dark meat and livers of poultry are rich in taurine, and the same is true for the organ meat of beef and mutton.

Alternatively, your vet might prescribe taurine supplements in the form of powder, capsules or liquid. Administering the supplements with food is best because vomiting could occur if given on an empty stomach. Most importantly, follow the dosage instructions properly because too much could also be dangerous.

On a final note

If your four-footed child is a happy, healthy pup with none of the red flags, you should not be concerned about his taurine production. 

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.