Taurine: Essential for cats… but dogs?

Taurine has been long known to be essential for cat diets, but in recent years it has also been added to more and more dog diets. So, what is taurine and why the recent changes?

Taurine is an essential sulfur containing amino acid. It is a white crystalline powder that is nearly pure in concentration. Taurine is essential for a variety of functions including, but not limited to, vision, reproduction, and heart health. It is typically added to diets at relatively low inclusion or may come in with the vitamin/mineral premix, ensuring the cat diet meets the minimum requirement of 0.1% for extruded and 0.2% for canned products, respectively.  

Cats are obligatory carnivores, meaning they require meat in their diet. Taurine is naturally occurring in meat. In the wild a cat’s taurine requirement is met by consuming their prey. Adequate taurine cannot be synthesized by cats not consuming whole prey, thus needing supplemental taurine to be added into the diet to meet the animal’s daily requirement.

Dogs can synthesize taurine assuming there is an adequate amount of methionine and cysteine in the diet. Specific breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers and Newfoundlands, are genetically more likely to need supplemental taurine due to breed specific heart issues.  Dog diets high in lamb or lamb meal, do require taurine supplementation as lamb is low in the essential amino acids necessary for synthesizing taurine. As animal nutrition has continued to evolve, and our pets’ diets have changed, more and more taurine has been formulated into dog diets via a need or as an insurance measure.

Grain-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets have become more prevalent types of dog and cat formulas aiding in the increased use of plant-based ingredients, such as legumes, potatoes, tapioca, etc. These plant-based ingredients are typically low in methionine and cysteine, causing the need for additional taurine supplementation to be used to ensure proper taurine inclusion for both dogs and cats. Taurine has been and will continue to be an essential micronutrient used in petfood formulations for both dog and cats.

Written by Kent Cooper and Lisa Schole of Evolve Consulting Group

Seatarra Ingredient Alliance offers a complete line of Vitamins and Amino Acids, including Taurine. Click here for our product listing or contact us to find out more about the commercial and nutritional benefits of including these ingredients in your formulations.

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