IS TAURINE IMPORTANT FOR DOGS?
Some of you might know already that cats cannot produce their own taurine, so supplementation for them and getting taurine through dietary routes is critical, but what about our canine friends?
Taurine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in meat and it’s abundant in the brain, eyes (namely the retina), muscles and organs. It is an essential component of bile acids, which are produced in the liver and used to breakdown fats from foods which are consumed. Dogs, unlike cats, can produce their own taurine, however, just like us humans their ability to do so decreases with age; and may be hindered by other factors. The process for a dog to produce taurine depends on a chain of events, they need to make cysteine from methionine and from cysteine comes taurine. Any break in the chain will increase the chances of the dog developing a taurine deficiency.
Have you ever heard of DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)? This is where the heart muscle thins, and the chambers become enlarged. Some of the symptoms of DCM are: fatigue, heavy breathing with exercise and coughing. It affects some dogs and has been known to be linked to taurine deficiency since 1997. It can be more susceptible in certain breeds, like Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, English Setters and certain lines of Spaniels. It is also important for us to note that larger breeds produce less taurine naturally than small dogs; so ultimately some dogs just cannot produce the taurine within the body that they actually require, so supplementation may be necessary. Plus, some dogs have an issue metabolizing amino acids, which in turn may cause a taurine deficiency. A few of the breeds that are predisposed to this type of potential issue are: Newfoundlands, Scottish Terriers, Chihuahuas, Basset Hounds and Australian Shepherds.
In summary, if you are feeding your dog a raw or home-cooked meat-based diet, then chances are they may be getting enough taurine; however, if your furry friend is only getting kibble then supplementation may be advantageous to ensure your pet is in optimal health. Have questions, reach out to us and see how we can help your canine live better.