Taurine For Dogs: The Benefits & Sources
November 15, 2022 | 3 min read
Updated November 15, 2022
By Sarah Milton
Published: November 15, 2022
Updated: May 11, 2023
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about taurine for dogs! We’ll find out what it means when there’s taurine in dog food, whether taurine is good for dogs and what the best sources of taurine for dogs are…
As humans, we may be used to seeing the ingredient Taurine on the labels of arguably controversial energy drinks, so it may be alarming to see the same on the packaging of your dog’s food. But, what is taurine? What does a dog’s body use taurine for? And, why do dogs need it?
What Is Taurine And Is It Good For Dogs?
Taurine is an essential nutrient for your dog. It is a sulfuric amino acid that contributes to the optimal functioning of a dog’s heart, ocular (eye), muscle, organ, bile, and intestinal tract functioning.
Most dogs can make taurine by synthesizing other amino acids present in the food and body, but some dogs' bodies struggle to do this, and if a vet suspects the latter, they’ll even test a dog for taurine deficiency - it’s that essential!
Interestingly, cats can’t make taurine themselves at all and it’s actually a requirement of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that taurine is supplemented in certain quantities of commercially made cat food.
However, there’s no stated requirement that dog foods have to be supplemented with taurine, but it’s being considered and researched. Taurine is essential but an inability to make taurine/taurine deficiencies may just affect certain breeds and too much taurine can be bad for dogs. But, this has yet to be proven with conclusive evidence via proper research.
Signs Of Taurine Deficiency In Dogs
Symptoms of taurine deficiency in dogs include:
- Moderate/severe sight loss
- Pain when urinating/blood in their urine
- Collapsing/passing out
- Excessive panting when not exercising/not too hot
- Abdominal/pelvic pain
If your dog presents any of these symptoms, get them looked over by a vet who will properly assess and treat them.
Because taurine is distributed throughout a dog’s body, as it aids with many of its functions, a deficiency could cause conditions like heart disease, eye problems, and urinary issues. The latter is most commonly present in a condition called Cystinuria where cysteine stones (or crystals) are found in a pup’s bladder, kidneys, or ureters. Cystinuria typically affects certain breeds more than others namely Chihuahuas, Newfoundlands, Basset Hounds, Australian Sheepdogs, Scottish Terriers, and Basenjis.
Taurine deficiency may also be linked specifically with the heart condition, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). This condition causes the heart muscle to thin and the chambers to enlarge. This is evident in cats but is also thought to affect dogs too. Like Cystinuria, DCM is thought to affect certain breeds more than others and those include Golden Retrievers, English Setters, Irish Wolfhounds, Portuguese Water Dogs, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, and Cocker Spaniels.
You shouldn’t self-diagnose a taurine deficiency in your dog. Your vet will need to conduct proper assessments, including checking over their heart, urine, and blood. If you have any suspicions regarding their health, get them an appointment, so you can thoroughly discuss any concerns with a qualified veterinarian.
The Best Sources Of Taurine For Dogs
The highest taurine-producing foods include:
High-quality commercial dog food is typically formulated to meet the essential nutritional needs of dogs. More often than not, a good dog brand will label their items with words like “complete” and “balanced” to describe their food formulas. This means that the food should contain nearly all the recommended nutrients, vitamins, and minerals a dog’s body needs, including taurine or at least the sulfur-containing amino acids that the body can self-synthesize taurine from.
Too much taurine can be just as detrimental for your dog as too little of it, so you should only be specifically supplementing taurine if advised to do so by your vet. Otherwise, a good, healthy, balanced, meat-based, or commercially-produced diet should be sufficient enough for your dog to obtain all the taurine they need.
Author Taffer, Marissa "Taurine For Dogs: What Is It And Why It's Important?" Aug 11. 2020, Dog Eared https://blog.myollie.com/taurine-in-dog-food/
"Taurine For Dogs: Do Dogs Need Taurine Supplements?" Apr 15. 2020, Pet MD https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/c_dg_taurine_deficiency
Author Martin, Nia "What You Need To Know About Taurine Supplements For Dogs" Oct 06. 2020, The Dog People, Rover https://www.rover.com/blog/taurine-supplement-for-dogs/
"Taurine Deficiency In Dogs" Wag Walking https://wagwalking.com/condition/taurine-deficiency
Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!