Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

PetMD Seal

Taurine Deficiency in Dogs

ADVERTISEMENT

Deficiency of Amino Acid Taurine in Dogs

 

Amino acids are critical to life. With over 20 types of amino acids present in the body, they act as the building blocks for proteins and are essential to the proper functioning of the body. One such amino acid, taurine, is distributed throughout the body with high concentration in certain tissues including heart wall muscles, in the retina of the eye, and brain. The exact function of taurine in these tissues remains elusive even while it is known to be essential.

 

Essential, or indispensable amino acids are a group of amino acids that cannot be synthesized in the body and are thus required to be taken in through diet. This is a well known nutritional defect that is known to affect the health of cats when they are lacking taurine in their diet, but does not affect dogs in the same way, as dogs are able to synthesize taurine in their bodies. This is why taurine is usually not added to dog foods but is added to cat foods.

 

However, some dogs may suffer from taurine deficiency in relation to certain diseases and may need to have taurine added to their diets. If dealing with heart disease, the deficiency can leads to enlarged heart size (dilated cardiomyopathy). Certain breeds of dogs appear to be predisposed to taurine deficiency: American cocker spaniels and giant breed dogs like the Newfoundland, amongst others.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

There are no symptoms specifically related to taurine deficiency. However, as taurine deficiency causes dilated cardiomyopathy, the symptoms are usually related to this disease.

 

Causes

 

  • Breed predisposition
  • An inherited disease called cystinuria, which leads to formation of stones in the kidneys, ureter and bladder

 

Diagnosis

 

You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, including a background history of symptoms. After taking a detailed history, your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination on your dog. During the physical examination, the attending veterinarian will thoroughly examine your dog's heart.

 

Routine laboratory tests will include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The results of these tests are usually found to be normal in these patients unless some other disease or condition is also present.

 

The urinalysis may reveal abnormal changes in the urine due to a concurrent condition called cystinuria, a disorder of the amino acid transporter which has as a main symptom of stones in the bladder, kidneys or ureter, may also be present. This is more commonly seen in certain breeds, such as Newfoundlands, Scottish terriers, Basenjis, bassets, Chihuahuas, and Australian Shepherds. The stones/crystals may not be passed from the urinary tract, but may cause additional health problems such as pain and blood in the urine and will need to be treated on its own.

 

 

If cystinuria is a cause of the taurine deficiency in your dog, your veterinarian will send the blood sample to the laboratory for the evaluation of blood taurine levels, which are often found to be low in dogs affected with cystinuria. If heart disease is also present, chest X-rays, electrocardiogram (ECG), and other diagnostic measures can be used to evaluate and diagnose the severity of the disease. Retinal damage in patients with taurine deficiency is also common. Therefore, your veterinarian will also perform a detailed eye examination to see if any retinal damage has occurred.

 

 

Related Articles

Hemoglobin and Myoglobin in Urine in Dogs
Hemoglobin is an oxygen carrier in the red blood cells, which also serves to carry...
READ MORE
Low Blood Oxygen in Dogs
When the brain is deprived of oxygen, irreversible damage may be the result, even...
READ MORE
High Blood Pressure in Dogs
More commonly referred to as high blood pressure, hypertension occurs when the dog's...
READ MORE
  • Lifetime Credits:
  • Today's Credits:
Hurry Before All Seats are Taken!
Enroll
Be an A++ Pet Parent! Take fun & free courses to earn badges & certifications. Choose a course»

Latest In Dog Nutrition

How Obesity May Shorten Your Pet's Lifespan
Obesity is a nationwide epidemic for our pets. Unfortunately, being obese can shorten...
READ MORE
5 Tips to Keep Your Senior Dog Healthy
Senior dogs have different health requirements than younger dogs. Here are some tips...
READ MORE
How Your Overweight Pet Could Benefit from ...
Pet obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Fortunately, there are some things...
READ MORE
Around the Web
MORE FROM PETMD.COM