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Old 01-08-2020, 06:16 AM   #6
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: E.Stroudsburg, Pa.
Posts: 61,548

Whatís taurine?
Taurineisan amino acid. (For those of us who scraped by in biology, amino acids are the building blocks of protein and our muscles.) This amino sulfonic acid helps some of the most crucial systems function properly. Amino acids for dogshelp in the same way as they do humans. Taurine aids in cardiac function, eye health, immune system function, and in multiple other systems. Taurine is especially concentrated in the heart muscle and contributes to it functioning properly. Basically, taurine rocks.
Why is it important?
Besides, the long list of systems that taurine helps, thereís cause to believe it can benefit animals suffering from Dilated Cardiomyopathy, otherwise referred to as DCM. A heart is a muscle and its main function is to circulate blood. Taurine is the amino acid rockstar friend we never knew we needed. It turns the heart into one mean, blood pumping machine. When taurine levels are low though, the heart becomes weaker and pumps less efficiently (thatís no good). A dog with DCM will have a dilated heart muscle with a bigger heart chamber containing more blood. Because the heart muscle is weaker (taurine is M.I.A.), blood doesnít circulate through the system the way it should.
Less Energy
Heavy Breathing with Exercise
These are all signs associated with DCM. If your furry friend shows any of these signs, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Dilated Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart murmurs, arrhythmia, and fluid in the lungs.
Why kibble just doesnít cut it.
In order to explain why kibble just isnít up to snuff, we have to travel back in time, to a decade where denim, big hair and pastels reigned supreme. Hello, 80ís. During this time, a troublesome trend came about that worried a lot of pet parents. Dilated Cardiomyopathy was becoming prevalent in cats. Cats, being true carnivores, really need taurine (which again, is found in meat proteins). Because of the trend, AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, decided to make this a requirement in all cat foods, almost eradicating Acquired Cardiomyopathy in cats (wow!). For dogs, it was presumed that they could develop taurine in their bodies with the help of other sulfuric amino acids. (Some dogs can.) Fast forward to today and AAFCO still doesnít require taurine in dog foods because sulphur-containing amino acids (cysteine and methionine, big words, even bigger job) are included in kibble formulas.
So besides those amino acids, what is included in kibble? The Pet Food industry pivoted from high-grain diets to grain-free in recent years. This doesnít mean that most kibbles are now high in meat content but rather, other fillers have taken grains place. Starches such as potatoes, peas, and tapioca are now commonplace in pet food ingredients. While itís certainly not bad to give your pets plants and grains, itís important to understand that these food groups have minimum amounts of taurine. Research out of UC-Davis found that dogs with DCM had grain-free diets and that those dogsí taurine levels were low.
The main takeaway is that taurine comes from a diet rich in high-quality meats and organs. Proteins come from plants and meat but plant-based proteins alone just donít have the amount of taurine needed for your pet. Most kibble relies heavily on plant-based proteins which means itís not a good source of taurine by itself.
Is my dog at risk?
DCM is a chronic disease and effects mid to older aged dogs. Itís important to note that not all dog heart conditions or Dilated Cardiomyopathy can be attributed to low taurine levels but some can. Taurine deficiency is cumulative and takes time to effect organs. Generally, after two to three years, dogs can start exhibiting symptoms. DCM can range from mild to severe and seems to affect larger dogs, 40-50 pounds and above. Larger dogs that are marginal in nutrition will have a larger deficit which accumulates. Also, though all dogs have the potential for DCM, these breeds may be more susceptible:
Golden Retrievers
Great Danes
Cocker Spaniels
Dilated Cardiomyopathy can certainly be fatal but dogs can also live for years based on the severity of the disease. Even better, quality of life for dogs affected with DCM can improve once meat-based proteins high in taurine are added to their diet. Improvements were seen in dogs with DCM in as early as one monthís time. So remember, meat is good for your dog (theyíre carnivores after all).
Joan, mom to Cody RIP Matese Schnae Kajon Kia forever in my A House Is Not A Home Without A Dog
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