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Nutritional deficiency is one of the most common problems in dogs. While every dog owner wants their furry friends to enjoy the most nutritious meals, many still struggle to understand what their dog exactly needs, as is the case with taurine. If your dog’s ability to produce this important amino acid is impaired, several canned dog foods contain an ample amount of it.
The best-canned dog food with taurine comes from Whole Earth, Halo, and Eukanuba, and contains chicken, turkey, tuna, lamb, beef, and fish. These ingredients contain a good amount of protein which provides your dog with the right proportion of taurine and other essential nutrients.
In this article, you’ll learn what taurine is and why it’s something your dog needs. You’ll also discover some of the best dog foods you can feed your dog to provide them with the right amount of taurine they need.
Table of Contents
What Is Taurine?
Taurine is one of the amino acids that your dog produces naturally. It’s a crucial sulphuric amino acid that all animals and humans need for proper health and is responsible for the optimum functioning of the heart, the regulation of nutrients, such as calcium, and maintaining electrolyte balance in the body.
It’s produced in the pancreas from another sulfur-containing amino acid – cysteine.
Taurine isn’t seen as an essential amino acid because the mammalian body produces it, and it’s needed in little quantity. However, some individual mammals don’t make enough, which needs to be supplemented through diet.
This amino acid is so vital that despite its production in the body, it needs to be included in meals of humans and animals, especially dogs since they’re mostly carnivorous. Its effect is felt in the heart, the eyes, the kidney, the lungs, and the metabolism of food materials.
Taurine, unlike other amino acids, isn’t involved in building proteins. It has other functions as it’s usually found in the brain, blood cells, retina, heart, and other vital organs.
Roles of Taurine in Your Dog’s Body
In the 1970s, a low taurine level was the cause of blindness and heart dysfunction in cats due to their dependence on plant-based food, which is typically low in taurine. These cats became better when their meals were more meat-based, which shows the importance of taurine in cats.
But what about dogs? Don’t they need taurine too? Dogs are natural carnivores and need as much taurine as any other carnivore. Most dogs suffering from an eye condition, tiredness, or poor heart condition need their food checked for taurine.
Here are some roles taurine plays in your dog’s overall health.
Improved Cardiac Health
The heart is one of the organs in a dog where taurine is found, and it has an important relationship with taurine, as it has the responsibility of circulating blood throughout the body of your dog.
However, this function can be impaired if there’s an inadequate amount of taurine in the body. One of the most common signs of taurine deficiency in dogs is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is a condition in which the heart muscles become weak, and the heart chambers widen.
As a result, the muscles are unable to perform their normal pumping function. Taurine helps to strengthen the heart muscles to ensure continuous and efficient blood circulation throughout the body.
Better Eye Function
Taurine is the most abundant amino acid present in the eyes, which demonstrates its importance through its osmoregulatory activity in the eyes. Taurine also helps to keep membranes in the eyes in place due to its interaction with zinc, as this action helps to make the rods in the retina injury-prone and avoid eye defects, such as cataracts and dry eyes.
One of the greatest enemies of a dog, and any mammal for that matter, is obesity, as it can arise when there’s an inadequate breakdown of fats in your dog’s diet.
According to studies, taurine has an anti-obesity effect in rats by blocking adipogenesis, or the formation of fat cells in white fat tissues.
Fat metabolism starts in the mouth but is incomplete and doesn’t split into the different fatty acids that the epithelial cells of the small intestine can absorb.
The action of pancreatic juices, one of which is taurine, on the indigestible fatty food substances helps break them down, but the absence of these pancreatic juices means your dog’s body packs on indigestible fatty substances, leading to obesity and, consequently, deteriorating heart function.
Better Puppy Health
Taurine isn’t bound to a place in a mammal’s body, but instead, it is transported in the blood to cells to metabolize fats, maintain muscle toughness, bind with zinc and calcium to improve metabolism, among other things.
However, it’s common to find taurine in the breast milk of mammals. Your dog passes taurine to their pups through breast milk to help them maintain good cardiac health, eye health, metabolism, and overall well-being.
Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in Dogs
Although Taurine isn’t considered an essential amino acid, there are consequences for its insufficiency in your dog’s food and body. Most dogs don’t show signs of deficiency until the taurine level is at its lowest.
Here are some symptoms that can help you tell that your dog needs more taurine:
- Poor eyesight and blindness
- Panting without exertion
- Blood in urine
- Abdominal pain
Some of these symptoms are also applicable to the occurrence of DCM, so it’s safe to say that DCM is an umbrella symptom of a taurine deficiency.
Common Food Materials That Contain Taurine
Although canned and kibbled dog food contains some respectable amounts of taurine, you’ll need to know which food sources are more important in the ingredients list of a product.
Taurine can be found in a host of natural food sources, especially meat and meat organ sources. Cereal grains contain a negligible to no amount of taurine, meaning they’re of little importance if you see them on your dog’s food label.
Here are some of the meat and meat organ sources of taurine.
Beef is the king of proteins, even for humans, as it contains large amounts of proteins beneficial to your dog’s health. It’s also rich in other nutrients and vitamins, such as:
These vitamins and minerals, especially zinc, are vital for the better effectiveness of taurine in your dog’s body. The level of taurine in 100g (3.53oz) of raw beef is 43.1mg. However, this value reduces if the meat is subjected to heat, so you’ll want to feed beef raw to your dogs. If you have to cook it, do so minimally.
Other meat sources of beef, such as beef heart and beef liver, also contain 63.2mg and 68.8mg of taurine in 100g (3.53oz) of organ meat, making them better taurine sources than raw meat itself.
Another popular source of quality protein that you can feed your dogs is chicken, which provides an enormous amount of protein to mammals, and has for a very long time. It is one of the better protein source options shared by humans and canines.
Chicken meat and its organs contain and provide a high amount of taurine, more than beef. Dark chicken meat weighing 100g (3.53oz) contains about 82.6mg of taurine.
However, its light raw variant contains a considerably low but acceptable 17.5mg per 100g (3.53oz). Chicken liver has the highest taurine value of about 110mg per 100g (3.53oz).
Your dog should get this nutrient from the chicken meat and its organ when they’re raw. If, for any reason, you need to process the meat, apply as little heat as possible to preserve the amount of taurine and other nutrients in there.
Tuna is a rich source of protein and taurine, and you can feed it to your dog raw or freeze-dried as a snack or treat. However, taurine content in tuna varies depending on its form or variety. For example, darker tuna generally contains more amino acids than white tuna. Also, different species contain varying taurine content. Yellowfin tuna contains about 964mg of taurine per 100g.
Turkey is the most abundant in taurine. Although it provides more than taurine as an amino acid to your dog’s body, the value of other non-essential amino acids it contains may pale in comparison to other meat sources, such as chicken and beef.
That said, it contains much more taurine when raw, and it tolerates heat better than other meat sources of taurine.
A 100-gram (3.53-oz) raw dark turkey meat contains an enormous 306mg of taurine in 100g (3.53oz). When roasted, the value of taurine in the same amount of meat drops to about 299mg. However, light turkey meat, or white meat, contains a considerably lower amount of taurine at 29.6mg of taurine in 100g (3.53oz), but when roasted, its value plummets to 11.1mg.
Raw lamb meat is more tender than beef, and your canine can devour it more easily. It also contains a high amount of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, but more importantly, it’s a rich source of taurine. Raw and dark lamb meat contains 43.1mg of taurine per 100g (3.53oz).
A surprising member of this list, seaweed is high in taurine, so if you’re interested in switching the food you feed your dog, you may consider seaweed. It doesn’t need cooking or processing, so you can harvest and feed it to your dogs.
Nori, a seaweed product used in making sushi, contains over 1000mg of taurine. To be exact, 100g (3.53oz) of nori contains 1,330mg of taurine. While it‘s impossible to consume all of that in one meal, it provides a high amount of taurine regardless of the quantity consumed.
Apart from tuna, there are other fish sources of taurine. Some have higher concentrations of taurine than others and are considered more nutrient-dense than others, including:
Tilapia, a freshwater fish, has dark muscles that are abundant in taurine. Its white meat also contains taurine, but they’re lower in comparison to dark meat. You can expect your dog to get about 972mg of taurine from a filet of 150g of dark tilapia. However, its white meat provides about 120mg of taurine.
Carp contains about 868mg of taurine, while catfish provides about 700 mg per 100g (3.53oz) serving. Feed your dogs with different sources of taurine, because not only does it give them different amounts of taurine as needed, but it also provides them with other nutrients.
Fish, such as sardines and salmon, are also good sources of taurine.
Oysters contain about 70mg of taurine, raw clams have close to 240mg, squid 356.7mg, and scallops 827.7mg, all in 100g (3.53oz) servings.
These crustaceans don’t only provide taurine, but they’re also rich in minerals, such as zinc and calcium that aid fat metabolism, one of the functions of taurine in your dog’s body. Dog foods are generally required to be rich in protein. However, the quality of protein in each dog food differs according to their ingredients.
The following is a list of canned dog foods that provide an adequate amount of taurine to your furry friend due to the ingredients they contain. Some of them are suitable for all ages of dogs, while others are meant for dogs of specific age groups.
Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey Recipe
The Whole Earth Farms Chicken and Turkey recipe are one of the best-canned dog foods rich in taurine. It’s made from numerous protein sources and some plant sources, such as potatoes and peas, which ensures your dog gets a balanced proportion of nutrients.
However, its primary ingredients are meat, such as chicken, and turkey, which are both high in taurine. While these two food sources already provide your dog with a good amount of taurine, this product also explicitly contains taurine as an ingredient and minerals such as zinc and potassium, which are essential for fat metabolism.
As an added advantage, it’s suitable for dogs of all ages.
Eukanuba Adult Beef & Vegetable Stew
Eukanuba Adult Beef and Vegetable Stew dog food is made specifically to meet the nutritional needs of senior dogs, as it provides them with a balanced protein, fat, and carbohydrate ratio. It also adds vitamins and minerals through some vegetables.
The first ingredient in this dog food for seniors is chicken, a rich source of methionine, which is an amino acid from which taurine can be derived. It also has beef and beef liver, which are other rich sources of taurine.
With other nutrients such as vitamins and potassium, magnesium, and zinc, this dog food ensures your senior canines are filled with energy and have excellent cardiac health.
Canidae All Life Stages Chicken & Rice Formula
This canned dog food is suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes, and it’s formulated to provide proteins and other nutrients from rice and chicken. It doesn’t contain wheat, soy, or corn and enriches the dogs with omega 3 & 6 fatty acids.
The primary ingredient is chicken meal. However, it also contains other protein-rich materials, such as turkey meal, lamb meal, and peas, which are good sources of taurine and methionine.
Other nutrients – vitamins, minerals, probiotics – are provided by other ingredients, such as flaxseed, cranberries, salmon oil, and many more.
Wellness Core Grain-Free Turkey, Chicken Liver & Turkey Liver Formula
The Wellness Core is a premium grain-free dog food that‘s made primarily of animal protein. The Turkey, Chicken Liver & Turkey Liver Formula canned dog food is made for dogs of all ages and contains no filler, just quality protein, and other nutrients.
Its first ingredient is chicken and turkey, both rich taurine sources. It also has organ meats, such as chicken and turkey liver, in its ingredients, which are higher and better sources of taurine than the raw meat themselves.
It contains other vital ingredients for healthy muscles and cardiac function, such as:
- Vitamin A
Merrick Grain-Free Cowboy Cookout
The Cowboy Cookout from Merrick is to show their roots in Texas. However, this protein-rich canned dog food is more than just a show of Texan origin, as it’s designed to give your dogs the best there is to offer in protein-dense food.
The first ingredient, beef, is deboned, giving your dog more chance to enjoy the tissue as it tears it apart. Other ingredients, such as beef broth, beef liver, and chicken broth, also add to the protein content of the food, and they are rich sources of taurine.
It promotes healthy feeding and living of your dog by providing nutrients essential to its cardiac health, vision, and reproduction by combining those primary ingredients with vitamins and mineral-rich ingredients, such as flaxseed oil, apples, green beans, carrots, and many more.
Instinct Original Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe
Instinct Original employs a 95% animal protein approach in formulating the Real Beef recipe. As the name implies, it has beef as its first ingredient and contains no grain whatsoever. Five percent of this dog food comprises vegetables, oils, fruits, and other food sources, such as flaxseed and tricalcium phosphate.
It stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other canned dog foods in terms of the protein they provide to dogs.
Despite its main ingredient being beef, it also uses beef broth and beef liver to provide proteins to your dogs, which have impressive amounts of taurine in them, especially the beef liver.
Halo Lamb Stew Recipe
It’s not every day you come across a dog food that uses the whole lamb as part of its ingredients. Halo Lamb Stew Recipe is a canned dog food suitable for adult dogs, as it provides them with energy and maintains hydration, which is important in seniors.
It also provides canines with protein through lamb as the first ingredient, beef liver, chicken broth, peas, and green beans. The combination of animal and plant protein is advantageous, but the addition of beef liver as an ingredient implies a high amount of taurine in the food.
Other nutrients that are important for muscle strength and health, normal cardiac function, and fat metabolism, include:
Wellness Turkey Stew
Taurine is never a worry when your dog eats this homestyle Turkey Stew from Wellness. It’s rich in protein, as there are big chunks of turkey meat in the can for your dog to enjoy.
Turkey is one of the best sources of taurine and other amino acids you can feed your dog, and it’s the first ingredient in this canned dog food. It also contains turkey liver, turkey broth, and dried egg whites for more protein and taurine content.
Other ingredients, such as thyme, carrots, barley, celery, potato starch, and salmon oil, are standard in the turkey stew. It also contains minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and potassium, which are essential for muscle strength and heart health.
Wellness homestyle Turkey Stew is suitable for dogs of all ages.
Ollie Fresh Dog Food
The Ollie product line has four different recipes you can choose from, including turkey, beef, chicken, and lamb. It focuses on quality and freshness, and no matter the product you give your dog, they’re sure to get a good amount of taurine from it.
The turkey recipe contains turkey thigh, turkey liver, turkey heart, turkey gizzard, pumpkin, carrot, and several others. As you would expect, the chicken recipe contains chicken and other ingredients like chicken gizzard, chicken liver, carrots, peas, fish oil, cod liver oil, and blueberries.
Ollie delivers its dog food on a subscription basis, so you can expect the food to be tailored to your dog’s specific needs like weight, age, breed, and food preferences.
Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken Wet Dog Food
You can’t go wrong with Weruva dog food, as this brand is one of the best in the dog food business when it comes to using chicken in its recipes. It mainly uses skinless and boneless cuts of high-quality chicken breast to provide your dog with the proper nutrients.
The Paw Lickin’ Chicken contains:
- Chicken (skinless and boneless breast)
- Potato starch
- Chicken broth
- Sunflower seed oil
- Folic acid
- Vitamin A supplement
Its main highlight is the abundance of meat it uses as its primary source of animal protein, and it doesn’t contain any plant-based protein boosters, antibiotics, and added hormones.
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Chicken Dinner
This product contains quite a good amount of chicken, as the first three ingredients are chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver.
It also includes other vital ingredients like fish oil, flaxseed (good sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), barley, sweet potatoes, iron amino acid chelate, and several others that your dog would surely approve of.
The Homestyle Recipe doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. However, it contains carrageenan, an ingredient that has caused controversy over the years. It’s extracted from red seaweed or algae and is used for thickening, emulsifying, and preserving foods and drinks.
Although carrageenan is common in human and pet foods, you may want to avoid feeding it to your dog regularly as research suggests that it has the potential to cause IBS, colitis, colon cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Related article: 5 Best Canned Dog Foods Without Carrageenan
Victor Ocean Fish Formula With Salmon
Here’s a dog food formula that is different from the typical food formulas your dogs have been used to. The formula’s protein comes primarily from aquatic foods and is suitable for dogs who are intolerant or allergic to certain regular meats.
The Victor Ocean Fish Formula with Salmon is a dog food formula suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes, as it contains different ingredients, including gluten-free grains, to supply the needed nutrients.
Its primary ingredient, menhaden fish, is a rich source of protein that’s not very common in other dog foods. It also contains a high carrier of taurine and salmon, which you can find in some selected dog foods out there. Combining these two ingredients helps your dog get the required amount of taurine to allow them to function in good health.
Additionally, it’s fortified with taurine itself despite the presence of those primary ingredients, and the inclusion of minerals such as zinc, calcium, and iron improves the efficiency of taurine and aids it in regulating the heart’s pumping action, preventing cardiovascular issues.
This article has thoroughly explored the subject of taurine and its importance. You don’t have to be a dog nutrition expert to understand that taurine is vital for your furry friend.
Taurine is beneficial for your dog’s heart health, eye function, fats metabolism, and overall health. A low taurine level can cause not-so-obvious problems until they get worse.
If your dog is showing symptoms like fatigue, fainting, blood in urine, poor eyesight, and panting without exertion, it might be time to provide them with dog food containing beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and tuna.
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- Whole Dog Journal: DCM in Dogs – Taurine’s Role in the Canine Diet
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