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If you follow a few pet groups on social media, you’ve probably heard about the lack of taurine in commercial grain-free diets causing deficiencies in dogs. In fact, in July 2018, FDA announced its investigation into increased reports of canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs consuming certain types of commercial pet foods. Some of the dogs in the study were reported to have low levels of taurine, a major cause of DCM in certain dog breeds. So, it is understandable why taurine has been getting a lot of attention among pet owners over the past few years.
Every time taurine is mentioned, a bigger percentage of dog owners ask one particular question: Is Taurine bad for dogs? To keep you updated, we will dedicate this post to answering this question, but before then, let’s learn a few basics…
What is Taurine?
Taurine (or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is an amino acid that’s naturally found in the dog’s tissues. For starters, amino acids are the protein building blocks in the body and play a critical role in managing a wide range of bodily functions. Amino acids in dogs help in the same way as they do in our bodies.
Taurine is often considered a non-essential amino acid because dogs can synthesize it from sulfur-containing acids like methionine and cysteine. On the other hand, cats cannot synthesize taurine, so it is essential amino acids for them because it must be obtained from the diet. Nonetheless, some dog breeds cannot produce taurine on their own and they have to get the organic compound through supplementation.
Is Taurine Bad For Dogs?
The short answer is: NO. Taurine is very essential for dogs as it helps keep a variety of bodily functions in check and protect dogs from dangerous conditions. In particular, taurine plays a critical role in several biological and physiological processes in dogs, including brain cell development, regulation of electrolytes, production of bile salts, and strengthening of reproductive organs among many other functions. Some of the reported benefits of taurine in dogs include:
- Promotion of cardiovascular health
- Boosting the immune system
- Promotion of reproductive health
- Protection of the liver against oxidation by free radicals
- Strengthening of muscle functions
- Improvement of brain health
- Improvement of the retinal functions
- Controlling obesity, diabetes, and related complications
Like other nutrients in your pup’s body, however, taurine should be balanced in the diet. The good news is that there are no known side effects of this amino acid in dogs.
The only bad thing about taurine in dogs is its deficiency. If you don’t give your dog a diet that can supply him with enough taurine, he is likely to suffer from a taurine deficiency. A taurine deficiency can cause diseases like DCM and eyesight issues. Some of the most common symptoms of taurine deficiency include coughing, panting, excessive breathing, painful urination, lethargy, blindness or blurred vision, and abdominal pain among others.
What if my dog consumes a lot of taurine? A higher intake of taurine will not hurt your pooch either. The compound is largely considered safe, so you don’t need to worry about the amount that you can include in your dog’s diet.
To be on the safe side, however, we recommend that you consult your vet about your pup’s taurine intake.
How do I ensure that my dog is getting proper amounts of taurine?
Generally, taurine is often produced in your dog’s body from other sulfur amino acids or it can be supplemented. You can boost the levels of taurine in your dog’s diet by increasing the amount of meat-based proteins. Shellfish, fish, poultry, and any type of meat will suffice provided that it is fresh and of good quality. Organs like lungs, heart, and liver are also great sources of taurine. For dog owners who don’t like serving their fur babies with raw meats, freeze-dried and roasted meats will still do.
You can always establish whether your dog is low in taurine by checking for the above-mentioned symptoms or asking your vet to help you check for a deficiency by carrying a blood test.
The Final Word
Is taurine bad for dogs? Hopefully, you now know the answer to this frequently asked question about taurine and dogs. We can only reiterate the importance of consulting your vet when choosing taurine-rich foods for your dog.
When you opt for supplemental taurine, up to 1000mg per day is recommended for every 40 pounds of a dog’s body weight. Taurine is mostly available in 500 and 1000 mg capsules and is safe even at high dosages, have very little tastes, and are relatively easy to administer. Even for supplemental taurine, don’t forget to work with a vet for optimum results.
Related Post: 8 Best Taurine Supplements for Dogs