Taurine is an amino acid – one of the 22 basic building blocks of protein. This amino acid is especially important to meat-eating animals such as dogs and cats because it plays a critical role across a wide range of physiological processes.
Fortunately, unlike cats, dogs can synthesize their own taurine. However, there are certain scenarios where a dog is unable to make its own taurine. Senior dogs, for example, produce much lower levels of this amino acid, which puts them at risk of taurine deficiency.
Additionally, some dog breeds are prone to taurine deficiency. They include Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Newfoundlands, English Setters, and Saint Bernards. Dogs of these breeds are at a higher risk of taurine deficiency if not fed an appropriate diet.
Taurine deficiency has far-reaching effects. It is characterized by symptoms such as panting, abdominal pains, blood in urine, fainting, and overall weakness. Another issue resulting from this deficiency is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
DCM is a condition characterized by the thinning and weakening of the walls of a dog’s heart, which compromises its pumping efficiency. If not treated early, this condition can lead to congestive heart failure.
To avoid these issues, therefore, it is important to ensure that your dog is on a taurine-rich diet. Taurine, however, is only found in muscle meat. And different types of meats have different levels of this amino acid. You can also give your dog taurine supplements.
This article will discuss the best meats to give your dog to ensure they have enough taurine in their systems.
The 7 Best Taurine Sources For Dogs
Shellfish, especially scallops, have some of the highest taurine content of any source, with up to 827 milligrams of the amino acid for every 100 grams. This means that whether you decide to cook them or give them raw, your doggo should obtain more than enough taurine to fulfill their needs. Other types of shellfish to consider include mussels and clams. These contain 655 milligrams and 240 milligrams, respectively, for the same amount.
Tuna is another excellent source of this amino acid, with varieties such as yellowfin containing up to 964 milligrams for every 100 grams. When choosing your tuna, consider going for that with darker meat, as it tends to be richer in amino acids than its white meat counterparts.
You will find that freshwater fish are rich in taurine. Dark meat tilapia contains up to 972 milligrams of taurine per 150 grams. White meat, on the other hand, contains about 120 milligrams of amino acid for the same portion.
Turkey and chicken are other great sources of taurine, with dark turkey meat containing up to 306 milligrams for every 100 grams. Dark chicken meat contains about 170 milligrams for every 100 grams. The light meat of both birds contains much lower levels of this amino acid, which is why you should always opt for the darker variety.
Red meats are associated with a higher risk of causing chronic diseases. Nonetheless, your pup should handle beef up to three times a week comfortably. This meat contains about 40 milligrams of taurine per 100 grams, making it a good taurine source for dogs.
Lamb is a good alternative to beef as it does not predispose your pet to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart problems. This meat contains up to 60 milligrams of taurine for every 100 grams.
7. Taurine Supplements
Most dogs can maintain adequate taurine levels if fed a meat-based diet. However, maintaining such a diet can be expensive in the long term, which is why most people prefer commercial dog food. Nonetheless, you cannot always rely on commercial dog food to provide enough taurine to your pooch, especially if the dog is prone to developing a taurine deficiency. The dogs still need commercial diets to either be meat-based or contain the aminoacid precursors they need to create taurine, which are methionine and cysteine. A diet that is high in protein but lacks the right amino acids will lead to a taurine deficiency.
In certain cases, it would make more sense to supplement their diet with a taurine product. Taurine supplements, however, vary considerably in quality. Therefore, be sure to check out fellow dog owners’ reviews before choosing one.
Be Careful When Preparing Food For Your Dog
Cooking reduces taurine levels in meat, especially when you use water. Baking or frying does not cause as much of a loss. If you insist on cooking the dog’s food, try to gently cook and retain as much of the meat’s juices as you can.
This is because taurine is usually lost together with those juices. You should also know that high temperatures destroy amino acids, including taurine. Therefore, do not overcook the meat. Even better, let the dog enjoy it raw.
When feeding your dog a meat-based diet, try to rotate between at least four different types of meats each week. This will prevent their diet from becoming monotonous.
While eggs and dairy products might not contain exceptional amounts of taurine, they are still a great addition to your pooch’s diet, as they are filled with loads of other important nutrients.
Taurine for Dogs: Conclusion
Taurine deficiency in dogs can lead to a host of debilitating health issues and even death. Therefore, it is imperative to take measures to ensure that your pet is getting adequate amounts of this amino acid from their diet. This is especially important if they are from a breed that is susceptible to the deficiency.
All types of meats contain taurine, with some having higher levels than others do. Therefore, ensure to rotate the meat types you feed your pooch. When looking for commercial dog food, confirm that it has high-quality protein as its primary ingredient.
Some manufacturers advertise their products as having high taurine levels. Therefore, those should be among the first ones to check out.
Taurine supplements are arguably the quickest way of boosting your dog’s taurine levels. However, be diligent and make sure to do your homework on a product first before purchasing it.