Last fall you may have learned of a warning from the FDA regarding a suspected link between certain kinds* of dog foods and heart disease. Further research by scientists at the University of California, Davis has revealed that many of these dogs are deficient in a critical amino acid called taurine.
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein. Taurine is important to the health of the heart as well as other organs.
*While the term “grain-free” has been used extensively, the types of diets in question have now been expanded to also include certain pet foods containing a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as main ingredients (listed within the first 10 ingredients in the ingredient list, before vitamins and minerals).
While the UC Davis research shows that certain breeds such as Golden Retrievers are more prone than others to heart disease from taurine deficiency, it’s important to realize that many different dogs have developed heart disease while eating the diets in question.
Marketing firms have gotten us used to interpreting some ingredient words such as “by-products” as bad and others such as “grain-free” or “all natural” as good. You probably aren’t surprised to hear that reality is a little more complicated than fancy labels and commercials.
While terms like “meat by-products” may sound alarming to us, often that term refers to organ meats such as heart and kidney which are rich in protein. Eliminating those meats from the diet could be part of the problem. We also don’t yet know if certain ingredients such as beans and lentils contain nutrients which interfere with the uptake of taurine into the dog’s system.
If you have any questions about your dog’s nutrition, what to feed and what to avoid, please ask us during your next visit.
Your friends at Fremont Veterinary Clinic