Do you need to supplement Taurine?
Should you abandon ship on The Grain Free Diet?
Maybe? Isn't that always the answer. "It Depends".
There are many factors that come into play on this subject. So let's take a look at it
Taurine is an amino acid. The body needs amino acids to function properly. Taurine is found in some foods and you may even have heard of it in your energy drink.
Your dog's needs it too.
We know that Taurine is negatively affected by heat. It loses it's effectiveness under high heat. Since kibble is heated 4 times during the manufacturing process and high temps, the likelihood of taurine surviving the cooking process is quite low. So that's one good reason to consider supplementing.
We are starting to hear about food mediate Taurine deficiency being associated with heart disease and specifically Dilated Cardio Myopathy (DCM) in our dogs. It's been linked to grain free diets. And a lot of questions and concerns exist.
The issues is not really the removal of the grain. Not all grains are bad -- but please don't rush to buy a bag of corn-laden foods. If you see foods that contain oats, millet, and high quality grains in reasonable amounts -- no worries unless it's out of balance on the carbohydrate scale.
The issue with Grain Free has become that when they removed grains, the substituted in legumes, peas and potatoes. Peas and other plant-based ingredients often shift the overall % of protein. So even though meat is listed as your first ingredient -- that just means the bag contains that ingredient as the single largest ingredient. But what happens when you keep reading and see Pea Protein, Peas, Pea Meal, and other sources of protein? Add them up -- but they won't tell you the % per ingredient. But when you do add them up you could easily has a much or more plant-based protein as you do meat.
Taurine is found in meats. It’s abundant in muscle and organ meats. But you can also find it in dairy, and shellfish. It’s possible that when foods went grain-free and grains were replaced with plant-protein sources, it may have started to through off the balance of Taurine occuring in the food. Putting some dogs into deficiency.
So who's at risk -- well dogs that are testing deficient. Taurine is an essential amino acid that dogs and humans need. Most of us get it from raw fed dogs, variety in diets, periodic rotation of animal-based proteins, dairy shell-fish and vitamin/mineral supplements. If your food isn't offering enough of the whole food sources of the amino acid -- you need a supplement. But you need to know facts about your food -- not just guesses. Remember excess can be as problematic as deficiencies in many cases.
Breeds with predisposition to Dilated Cardiomyopathy are probably at the greatest risk IF they are deficient in Taurine. Research the studies done on Goldens showing a possible link between Taurine Deficiency and DCM. It spun into headlines as Grain Free issues.
You can eliminate this whole issue with a good quality balance Raw-Fed Diet that offers variety and quality.
You can introduce other problems if you just jump ship on the Grain Free Bandwagon and don't manage a low-carb, high quality, meat right, whole foods diet with proper vitamins and minerals.
Not sure what you need to do -- a good consultant, holistic vet or holistic nutritionist can help you sort it all out.
Note: Endurance -- The Supplement Product from Volhard Dog Nutrition adds whole-food, non-synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acid profiles including Taurine that support your dog's health. Every kibble feeder should be adding a good supplement.