In the past three years, the world of Golden Retrievers, their owners, and enthusiasts have been rocked by the ongoing vet studies and findings. According to the studies “taurine deficiency”, “dilated cardiomyopathy” and “grain-free diet” has been found to be interlinked. Since then, a number of articles have been written and causing panic amongst Golden Retriever owners. Warnings have also been issued by the FDA. What could have caused these panics and anxieties? What is taurine’s role in these studies? How are these affecting Golden Retrievers?
Importance of Taurine
To understand the root cause of the ongoing Golden Retriever health issues, let us get to know the importance of taurine first. Taurine plays a crucial role in Golden Retrievers’ overall health despite having little known facts. Considered as an amino acid, it helps in the proper function of the different body systems of the Golden Retrievers. It also aids in brain development, skeletal muscle, and eye health. Taurine is also one of the key components in bile production so Golden Retrievers can digest fats very well, fighting obesity. In some cases, taurine is also effective in controlling blood sugar and seizure symptoms reduction. But one role that made taurine stand out amongst other amino acids, is the fact that it helps keep the heart working smoothly, normalizing blood flow and circulation.
What Causes Golden Retriever Taurine Deficiency
The first question that needs to be answered is: Why do most Golden Retrievers have taurine deficiencies? The truth of the matter is, most dogs can manufacture taurine in their own bodies. However, Golden Retrievers are one of the few dog breeds who have a lesser ability when it comes to taurine production. The answer lies in their genetic makeup. Another factor is its size. By nature, large dog breeds are said to produce taurine way slower than small dog breeds. Furthermore, taurine is easily excreted through feces, thus they tend to lose more than they could produce.
Taurine Golden Retrievers and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy
The factors surrounding the Golden Retriever’s susceptibility to taurine deficiency and how it affects its heart have triggered vets to investigate the rising number of Golden Retrievers afflicted with dilated cardiomyopathy. Another important factor that caused the alarm for the study is that Golden Retrievers are not known to be susceptible to dilated cardiomyopathy.
Basically, the Golden Retriever’s heart is the most important organ of its body. It pumps blood to the whole body and keeps blood circulating. Adequate taurine production keeps it up and running healthily. However, lower taurine levels will cause the heart to malfunction and go haywire resulting in dilated cardiomyopathy. When the heart works harder to pump more blood, it will eventually become enlarged and may weaken the heart muscle walls. And as the heart enlarges, it will soon stop pumping blood and if left untreated, fluid will fill the heart and lungs which may eventually cause congestive heart failure leading to death. Although dilated cardiomyopathy is also caused by genetics and infectious diseases, it appears that taurine deficiency is still the leading cause of Golden Retrievers developing this cardiovascular disease.
Taurine Deficiency in Golden Retrievers Grain Free Diet
To get to the bottom of the recent study findings, we have to remember that in recent years, many different dog diets have emerged. These diets range from raw food consumption to grain-free food, boutique diet and some even have exotic ingredients. The emergence of these diets is supposed to give Golden Shepherds the experience of being natural descendants of wolves. The problem is not all ingredients in these foods have more meat. Most are just scraps or fillers which will likely cause Golden Retrievers more damage than health. Grain-free food is supposed to lessen food sensitivities in Golden Retrievers, but in exchange for grains, potatoes and legumes such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, legume seeds, etc. are used as ingredients. However, according to the recent taurine deficiency in Golden Retrievers UC Davis study, grain-free and legume-rich food may have caused taurine deficiency induced Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Golden Retrievers. The study shows that 96% of the Golden Retrievers diagnosed with taurine deficiency and canine dilated cardiomyopathy have been found to have either legume-rich, grain-free or a combination of both diets. It also said that the same number of Golden Retrievers have improved significantly after taurine supplementation and diet changes. This means that ingredients in dog food like legumes or grain fillers may be causing lower taurine levels in Golden Retrievers. It also goes to show that taurine deficiency induced dilated cardiomyopathy is avoidable and highly treatable.
How to Maintain Normal Taurine Levels in Golden Retrievers
Following this ongoing study, here are some things that Golden Retriever owners can do to at least normalize the taurine levels of their beloved pets.
Testing taurine levels is the most viable solution to know if a Golden Retriever is affected. The amino acid for taurine level test is usually done in a veterinary clinic with just a simple blood extraction. The blood sample will then be analyzed and results will often come out after 24-48 hours. A low taurine level result will most likely warrant an ECG, EKG and x-ray of the affected Golden Retriever’s heart.
- Secondary Signs and Symptoms
Since taurine deficiency is asymptomatic, owners will need to be more observant of their Golden Retrievers. They have to watch out for signs of dilated cardiomyopathy such as panting without any activity, easily exhausted, sudden cough, overall body weakness, sudden fainting, and difficulty breathing.
- Vet and diet
Diet can either boost or lower taurine levels. It is always best to check the label of dog foods for ingredients. Avoid exotic ingredients, legumes or starch from legumes and grain-free food. Vets know best. Visiting them and asking about taurine and a balanced diet is more likely to yield success.
Some Golden Retrievers might still have lower taurine levels even after diet changes. The next best solution is to ask for a taurine supplement and the right dosage from vets. In some severe cases, a lifetime taurine supplement is needed to ensure normal taurine levels.
When it comes to dog nutrition, there is no one size fits all. Different dog breeds have their own dietary needs. Taurine deficiency in Golden Retrievers grain free food might not be compatible with their dietary needs. Although the UC Davis study is not yet conclusive, Golden Retriever owners are free to stay on the safe side by feeding their pets dog food manufactured by companies who have tested their pet food products. It is also safe to look for taurine in each dog food label.