Original Question: What are your thoughts on Dr. Josh Stern’s UC Davis study regarding Golden Retrievers taurine deficiency – peas, lentils, beans, etc. My Golden Retriever group has told me to stop offering foods like Acana Singles for example. - Gail
Thanks for your question.
There is always a lot of conjecture about issues like this when they first get introduced into discussion groups. It’s rare for people to really take the time to look at the research critically. I’ve done a review and I’ll summarize the unbiased factual evidence.
Dr. Josh Stern has put together a study looking at the effect of taurine deficiency and it’s role in dilated cardiomyopathy, or heart disease, in Golden Retrievers. I can’t find the completed study but I found a letter requesting subjects from June 2017, which suggests that his study is not yet published so he is simply investigating. Here’s what I can tell you. Taurine deficiency has been shown to contribute to the development of heart disease in cats. The link in dogs has been harder to establish. It is believed to contribute but the link has not been well proven, based on my 20-minute review of the literature. I would tell you that there is a high suspicion of it.
I worry about people giving strict advice such as ‘feed this’ or ‘don’t feed that’. I think this is quite naive. I prefer to present facts and educate people so they can make their own decisions.
In a situation like this, there is no need to agree or disagree with the strong opinions you’ve been given. There is a much simpler answer to your problem. You can always have your dog’s blood taurine level checked. If it is deficient, you can supplement any diet with adequate taurine until the level normalizes on subsequent blood work. Whether it truly contributes to the development of cardiac disease or not, and the suspicion is there, you are simply supplementing a dietary amino acid to an adequate amount which has no negative impact. I think this solves the problem altogether without any need for argument.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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