Taurine and Grain Free information

Taurine and Grain Free information

Recent studies have shown that many golden retrievers are being diagnosed with taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).  If left untreated congestive heart failure and possibly death can occur.  In the past this wasn’t a problem for goldens.  It occurred in larger dogs.

We have compiled information from several sources for your education and awareness and for your discussion with your veterinarian.

It is felt that the grain free foods may play a major part in taurine deficiency.  Peas, beans, pea starch, legumes, potatoes and sweet potatoes have replaced the grains as the carbohydrate in most dog foods.  These block the function of taurine.

JAVMA Diet associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs

Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers fed commercial diets.

Diet-Associated Heart Disease in Golden Retrievers

The veterinary cardiologists and nutritionists are unanimous in their assessment that the best way to get your dog out of danger in this situation and to protect your dog from future problems is to buy your dog food from a “company this is committed to resolving this problem” and is involved in the scientific research.

Dr. Josh Stern, Cardiologist, leading the UC Davis research

UC Davis lead veterinarian researcher, Dr. Josh Stern,  head of the study at UC Davis indicates the following dog foods satisfy the criteria:

Purina Pro Plan
Royal Canin Golden Retriever (used by Dr. Stern for his Golden Retrievers)

The key is to read the ingredients and Taurine should be listed.

Here are two educational documents which replace the recommendation we have for Dog Food Advisor due to more current / updated information concerning this recent issue.



Also Whole Dog Journal has information about Taurine Deficiency and DCM and selecting the right food for your dog.

Raw and home prepared diets aren’t sufficient enough in taurine.  Taurine supplements are available from a veterinarian.  “Toppers” such as eggs, chicken livers, unsalted sardines and oysters may be added to the dog’s diet to help supplement.

Tuffs University and University of California Davis have ongoing studies on the taurine deficiency,  The FDA has recently gotten involved.

Here are some helpful links for your education and awareness:

WSAVA Food Selection guidelines

UC Davis Food and DCM handout

UC Davis Jan 28th update

You can have your own Golden Retriever tested by your vet.  A whole blood sample is taken and sent to UC Davis.  250 nmol/L is a minimum normal Taurine level for a Golden Retriever.

Information on sending sample to UC Davis

Taurine Reference Ranges

If the taurine level is below normal, an echocardiogram is recommended. Low taurine levels and DCM can be reversed if caught early enough.

Signs and symptoms of DCM are: pale gums, lethargy, cough, weakness, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing or exercise intolerance.

Always consult with your vet to discuss the right solutions for your dog.


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