Due to a recent FDA report, grain-free pet foods have become a concern for many consumers. This is due to the connection being drawn between ingredients used in grain-free diets, like potatoes and legumes such as peas and lentils, being low in taurine and the increase in cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) which is a disease of the cardiac muscle that can lead to heart failure. However, this concern should not be associated with grain-fee diets alone. Any processed pet food that is low in high-quality meat protein and organ meat, and this includes diets that include grains, will be low in natural taurine.
What are The PHNC’s feelings on this issue?
We always tell our clients that they are compromising when they use processed pet foods. Not all grain-free diets are alike, some have more meat and some less. The lower cost varieties can have lower levels of taurine and also create the risk of insufficient levels of essential amino acids like methionine and cystine that the body uses to create taurine naturally. The FDA and the pet food industry acknowledge the problem with commercial diets by saying: “And that points to the true, underlying problem: we just don’t know enough about dog and cat nutrition, due to an ongoing lack of published research and data available.” Do consumers understand this?
What should I do?
Feed your dog or cat whole foods! Meat and organs are rich, natural sources of taurine. The highest levels of taurine can be found in raw diets with some taurine being lost when meat is cooked. If you feed whole foods with included meat and/or organs as we recommend, your animal will be fine. Alternatively, if you must feed your dog a kibble pet food then our recommendation is Orijen or Acana by Champion Pet Foods. These are grain-free diets but have the highest levels of real meat. For cats moisture is critical so if you can’t feed a raw diet select the highest meat content (low fish) canned cat food that you can find. When feeding a processed pet food diet it is essential to add a natural source of taurine and our Heart Glandular is the perfect choice because it is a great natural source of this important nutrient. Read our articles on how to feed your dog/cat in our Education Section.