Taurine Deficiency in Dogs

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Taurine deficiency in dogs has been seen in raw fed, kibble fed and home-cooked fed dogs, and not accepting this fact is dangerous, so I want to try and be a part of the solution rather than divisive. I hope you’ll join me in this endeavour by Sharing this post because when all is said and done it’s our dogs that are at risk. IMHO this needs to be about the dogs’ realities rather than our preferred feeding methods.


You may have heard that raw fed dogs, especially those eating animal hearts can’t be deficient. I’m here to tell you that I’ve worked with dogs that were. Please read everything below.


Others say that kibble containing peas and lentils are causing the problem. That makes some sense, and the FDA has put out a warning. It comes a bit late since the investigation started quite a while ago.


Peas, beans and lentils add protein to the diet, so the amount of protein shown on the nutrition panel on a bag of kibble reflects it. This isn’t high quality protein though. So, when we see a meat source listed, there’s really no way to know how much of the protein is coming from that source, and how much from the peas, etc. That may be a bigger issue than in the past (when grains were being used) because these legumes have properties that lessen nutrient availability to the body.


Some say that diets with novel proteins/ingredients are the problem. Yet others say that the lack of grain in the kibble is causing a taurine deficiency, and the theories are getting bigger and louder by the week.


The body requires two amino acids (methionine and cysteine ) to make taurine. Meat based diets should have no problem meeting this requirement – on paper. In fact, diets that are loaded with peas, lentils, or whatever else should not be an issue if there’s enough methionine + cysteine  – but again, that’s on paper. It’s not about rice being, or not being, in the diet.


In addition, a paper – Dietary beet pulp decreases taurine status
in dogs fed low protein diet – (Ko and Fascetti Journal of Animal Science and Technology (2016) 58:29 DOI 10.1186/s40781-016-0112-6)states ” ….. BP may contribute to a decrease taurine status in dogs by increasing excretion of fecal BA (bile acids) and decreasing protein digestibility, thus decreasing the bioavailability of sulfur amino acids, the precursors of taurine.


This would suggest that a fresh food diet loaded with meats produces no problem whatsoever, but that’s not the case 100% of the time either.


It used to be that certain breeds were known to come down with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), but were they responsive to taurine? Not usually. There’s a difference between the genetic issues with those dogs, and what’s happening now. The dogs that are indeed responsive to supplemental taurine should have never needed to become a medical emergency. None of us should be risking our dogs, and I know that some people are certain they’re not risking them because they’ve been feeding this way, or that way for 20 years, etc.


The bottom line is that unless we’re going to ask the vet to test taurine levels in all dogs, I use a supplement proactively. It’s inexpensive and excess is excreted in urine.

Based on a 500 mg capsule:

Up to 20 lbs: 1/4 capsule daily

21-50 lbs: 1/2 capsule daily

51-85 lbs: 1 capsule daily

86+ lbs: 2 capsules daily


Do I think we should all be supplementing? YES! (unless your dog is going to be part of the taurine study being done by Dr. Joshua Stern in which case he wants you to not supplement until after the dog’s blood has been drawn for testing).


I haven’t formulated a diet without additional taurine in at least 13 years, but I’ve corrected taurine responsive DCM for at least that many years. So while the latest worry about lentils etc. brings the issue back in a bigger way, the need for taurine supplementation isn’t new. That’s not to say we should go overboard, but let’s remain aware and vigilant on behalf of our dogs.