Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Follow up to the Grain-free Report

various types of foodMy last article discussed the recent report by Dr. Joshua Stern, of UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine about Grain-free diet impact on congestive heart failure in the dog. Here is more information about the problem, with links to the various scientific studies.

This is the link to the article I read online which led me to write the newsletter.

Golden Retrievers were the primary dog breed represented in the study. It is important to note that the study is not inferring that only Golden Retrievers are susceptible to the Taurine level effects - just that these dogs presented most commonly to the UC Davis College of Veterinary medicine.

Taurine is an amino acid that is absorbed from the diet, or created by the body from other nutrients. Cats are not able to synthesize their own Taurine, so feline diets must have Taurine supplementation in the food to meet a cat's need. In dogs, they often can synthesize their own Taurine, but some breeds or certain dogs are weak in this function. At UC Davis, the cardiology department saw a number of Golden Retrievers with Taurine deficiency who were also on  a grain free diet. But any other breed, who has difficulty in maintaining Taurine levels, may have Taurnine deficiency, which can lead to  heart problems. There are Golden Retrievers, and other dogs who are fed a commercial diet that is not grain free and have been deficient in Taurine blood levels. This is due to a problem in this dog for Taurine synthesis. 

It is important when a dog has a heart problem arise, younger than a mature or geriatric age (under the age of 7) that blood Taurine levels should  be measured. This test is a specific blood or urine test that must be shipped overnight, on ice and in special collection tubes. So, when you discuss this with your veterinarian it may take a day or two to gather the appropriate sampling kit, insulated shipping to run the test. As the impact of Taurine levels is more widely known in dogs, the availability of testing will likely improve and be easier for your veterinarian to offer.

Currently, Okaw Veterinary Clinic offers Taurine blood and urine testing. The samples must be collected carefully in a special anti coagulant, and shipped on ice to California. If you are interested in your dog being tested, please call the clinic at 217-253-3221 to make an appointment. We will also want your pet food label, any treats and supplements fed, and the amounts. This is important for us to know the intake of the amino acids that create Taurine as we look at the actual levels measured.

More information about Taurine and Grain-free diets:

Researchers getting Closer to Understanding Dietary Taurine and Heart Disease in Dogs

The Latest on Grain-free Diets!

Josh Stern Cardiac Genetics Laboratory

A Broken Heart: Risk of Heart Disease in Boutiques or Grain-Free Diets and Exotic Ingredients

 - written by Dr. Sally J. Foote

Okaw Veterinary Clinic
140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953
(217) 253-3221


Mon & Fri 8 am - 6 pm
Tues & Wed 8 am - 5 pm
Sat 8 am - noon
Closed Thurs & Sun

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