A recent report released by the FDA has linked a possible connection between taurine deficiency and the rise in dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) diagnoses in dogs. With a condition like DCM, the heart muscle weakens, becoming more “like a flabby balloon than a powerful, muscular organ” says the Morris Animal Foundation. Symptoms of the disease also included low-levels of the essential amino acid known as taurine. The dogs linked to the FDA study primarily consumed grain-free based kibble diets, which commonly add ingredients like peas, lentils, potatoes, and other legumes. As a result, veterinary researchers began to associate a possible link between diet and the cause of DCM related taurine deficiency.

This recent study has caused a panicked uproar in the pet food industry, but at Lola & Penelope’s we want to break this down to what this means for you and your pet!

Commercial kibble diets typically go through a high-heat extrusion process that diminishes the nutritional value of the food. To make up for this loss, every essential nutrient must be supplemented synthetically to avoid nutritional deficiencies and meet the dietary standards enforced by The Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO). The kibble diets in question in the study also employed legumes (plant based protein sources) to increase the amount of protein in the food.  Combining a heavily processed food (extruded kibble) with high starch legumes and vegetables (peas, chickpeas and other legumes) could be contributing to a diet where pets aren’t able to absorb all the taurine they need.

 First and foremost – if your pet is eating a diet rich in meat and animal products with a small amount of low carbohydrate plants then your pet should not have any issues getting the taurine, or any other essential nutrients they need.

This study might be shocking, but it recognizes the necessity of adding a variety of fresh, species-appropriate ingredients to any pet’s diet. Raw diets are perfect for this, being full of nutrient rich organ meats while being the least processed of any dog foods. By using raw organ and dark meats, raw diets are able to source all of their nutrients from natural sources as opposed to the harder to absorb synthetic vitamins. Oven-baked or air-dried kibble formulas are also an option as they are less processed and retain more of their nutritional value.

Even if you aren’t ready to switch to an all raw or fresh diet, try adding raw meal mixers to your pet’s diet, or swapping out a meal with a raw bone. Raw meals with shellfish, dark meat poultry, sardines and whitefish are excellent sources of taurine, as well as other amazing nutrients!

If you’d like to discover more about the world of raw feeding, contact us for an invitation to our exclusive Fresh Pet Food Event, August 22nd at 4:00 at our Clayton location. We’ll have a raw expert with us and talk about the ins and outs of raw feeding, with samples, goodies and giveaways for this very special event! Call us at 314.863.5652, email us at info@lolaandpenelopes.com, or feel free to message us on Facebook or Instagram.

 For more reading on this topic, follow the links below. 

http://www.nutricionhospitalaria.com/pdf/3337.pdf (Taurine Content in Foods p. 2; Table 1)

FDA’s Article/Statement: https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm613305.htm)

Becker’s Article: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/07/09/link-between-dog-food-taurine-deficiency-and-dcm.aspx

Morris Animal Foundation (leader in canine heart disease research & info on Golden Retriever Lifetime Study): https://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/article/researchers-getting-closer-understanding-dietary-taurine-and-heart-disease-dogs

Conventional Vet Perspective on the Issue: http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/06/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-free-diets-and-exotic-ingredients/