The Impact of Taurine and DCM - ScienceOnDogs

The Impact of Taurine and DCM


The recent FDA warnings regarding dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) are still causing panic amongst pet owners. While DCM is a severe disease, there is still a lot unknown about its cause in the recent report. The FDA is quick to point the finger at grain-free dog food, but that may not be the right move. We dug a little deeper into the possible causes of DCM and what we found may surprise you.

Taurine Deficiency Can Cause DCM
As most experienced veterinarians know, DCM is often caused by a nutritional deficiency in the amino acid, taurine. Taurine is created by the dog’s own body using methionine and cysteine, found in animal protein. When a dog eats a high-quality grain-free diet, they are sure to get not only enough taurine but also the building blocks of methionine and cysteine. Keeping your pup’s diet full of real animal protein is essential for a foundation of health. When dog food lacks taurine, methionine, and cysteine, it can lead to a deficiency that is associated with DCM.

Genetic Factors
Some dog breeds are more susceptible to taurine deficiency due to genetic abnormalities. Golden Retrievers are more at risk for taurine-deficiency caused DCM compared to other breeds. There is an inherited metabolic mutation in which prevents a Golden Retriever from creating their own taurine from methionine and cysteine, leading to a significant deficiency. When taurine isn’t supplemented, DCM could follow. In the recent FDA report, the majority of dogs impacted by DCM were said to be Golden Retrievers.

Quality Meat Matters
It is important to note that many of the dog foods listed in the FDA report don’t adhere to a single source philosophy. The reported grain-free dog foods did not indicate where they sourced their meat, or how it is processed prior to being included in the kibble. When animal protein is overly processed, it becomes denatured, and the amino acids become damaged. Hence, this is why a lot of highly processed dog foods will lack the necessary amount of taurine, methionine, and cysteine. Without enough of these building blocks, dogs will not be able to create enough taurine. The denatured protein may lead to a diagnosis of DCM if taurine isn’t supplemented.

Taurine deficiency is only one of the many reasons that DCM could develop. However, it provides an interesting perspective regarding the new FDA report. Further, it shows that there must be more research regarding DCM and diet, along with possible supplementation recommendations for specific breeds.


  • Posted on August 17, 2019

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