Taurine Deficiency in Dogs from Grain Free Diets???

There is some incomplete information floating around surrounding availability of the amino acid taurine and in particular some issues claimed to be related to grain free diets.    Here is some basic clear information.   Keep in mind that grains and legumes are both poor sources of taurine so diets heavy in legumes COULD potentially be deficient if not taken into consideration.       The following is from Champion Pet Foods….one of the premier companies in North America for pet food manufacturing.




• Amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins. All animals require amino acids to maintain a healthy physiological function.

• Proteins are made up of groups of amino acids, 10 of which cannot be produced by a dog’s body and need to be supplied within the diet. A carnivore’s natural diet is rich in all 10 essential amino acids.

• Poultry, fish, meat and eggs are excellent Biologically Appropriate™ sources of amino acids.

• Taurine is an amino acid which can only be found in animal protein. It can be synthesised in dogs from the precursor amino acids cysteine and methionine. It is not present in vegetarian protein sources such as grains and/or legumes.

• The sulphur amino acid family includes methionine, cysteine and taurine, which are abundant in fish, eggs and organ meats. These amino acids are important in the maintenance of a healthy heart, healthy skin and hair and good eyesight.


• Previous studies1,2 have reported that taurine deficiency may arise from lamb and rice based diets where the primary protein is lamb meal.

• It is hypothesized2 that consumption of diets with inadequate methionine and cysteine can result in taurine deficiency in dogs.

• The naturally occurring sulphur amino acid precursors of taurine, cysteine and methionine are consistent with a Biologically Appropriate™ diet, and are listed in the typical analysis. You can find this information under Dog Food here.

• As a result, the ACANA Lamb & Apple Singles formula contains a Biologically Appropriate™ amount of taurine. • ACANA Lamb & Apple Singles formula uses FRESH and RAW lamb meat as the first ingredient and contains WholePrey™ ratios of meat, organs and cartilage. Of the 27% protein in the ACANA Singles foods, more than 85% comes directly from the meat and organ inclusions, which are rich in taurine.

• In addition, animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures have substantiated that ACANA Lamb & Apple Singles formula provides complete and balanced nutrition, with no indication of taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.


• A University of California Davis study3 indicates that the method of cooking has a significant effect on taurine loss. To read the study, the details of which are below, click here.

• Conventional pet foods are made primarily with meat meal ingredients, which are typically rendered at high temperatures, where most of the taurine and its precursors are destroyed.

• All our ORIJEN and ACANA foods include large amounts of fresh meats with minimal heat treatments and meat meals that are processed at lower temperatures than conventional rendering.

• Limiting the exposure of our Fresh Regional Ingredients to heat means our foods retain the specific amino acids needed for a Biologically Appropriate™ kibble. MEAT CONTENT AND WHOLEPREY™

• Taurine is not considered an essential amino acid for dogs. It can be synthesized in a dog’s pancreas, from the amino acids cysteine and methionine.

• With rich meat inclusions, and by incorporating WholePrey™ ratios in all our diets, we never have to supplement ORIJEN or ACANA foods with synthetic amino acids to meet the nutritional needs of dogs.

• Our naturally occurring cysteine and methionine content is consistent with a Biologically Appropriate™ diet, and is listed in the typical analysis. You can find this information under Dog Food here.

• For dogs with no pre-existing medical conditions, ORIJEN and ACANA diets provide sufficient levels of naturally occurring, highly bioavailable methionine, cysteine and taurine.


• Conventional pet foods contain large amounts of grain and vegetables as their primary source of protein. As a result, essential amino acids, such as methionine, are insufficient and require supplementation. They are included on the ingredient panel as DL-methionine.

• Taurine is also heavily supplemented in traditional pet foods to compensate for its destruction during the extreme heat treatments and/or lack of adequate inclusion of animalbased ingredients.

• Each ORIJEN and ACANA food leads its category in fresh meat content and meat diversity, while incorporating WholePrey™ ratios that include muscle meat, organs and cartilage. This ensures no taurine supplementation is required to make our diets complete and balanced.

• Our award-winning Biologically Appropriate™ foods mirror the quantity, freshness and variety of meats that dogs and cats are evolved to eat. DOGSTAR® REFERENCES 1. R.C Backus, G. Cohen, P.D. Pion, K.L. Good, Q.R. Rogers and A.J. Fascetti. (2003) Taurine deficiency in Newfoundlands fed commercially available complete and balanced diets. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 223: 1130-1136. 2. A.J. Fascetti, J.R. Reed, Q.R. Rogers, and R.C. Backus. (2003) Taurine deficiency in dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy: 12 cases (1997-2001). J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 223: 1137-1141. 3. A.R. Spitze, D. L. Wong, Q.R. Rogers and A.J. Fascetti. (2003) Taurine concentrations in animal feed ingredients; cooking influences taurine content. J. Anim. Physiol. a. Anim. Nutr. 87: 251-262.

Brand Formula (%) Taurine (as fed basis)


Singles Pork & Squash 0.03

Lamb & Apple 0.03

Duck & Pear 0.09

Wild Mackerel 0.14

Nationwide Pet Obesity Problem

(courtesy of CBS News)

A new study shows the nationwide obesity epidemic now includes our pets.

Busy lifestyles and unhealthy diets are wreaking havoc on our pets and while porky animals may look cute, the extra fat can cause life-threatening conditions, reports CBS News correspondent Don Dahler.

“Overweight and obesity in our cats and dogs has increased by 160 to 170 percent,” according to Dr. Kirk Breuninger, the lead veterinary researcher behind a study by Banfield Pet Hospital.

“Right now, one out of three cats and dogs are overweight,” Breuninger said.

He attributes this increase to a number of factors: lack of exercise, too much food and a changing attitude towards our pets.

“We are starting to consider pets more and more to be members of our family and we like to communicate with them and show our affection to them by offering them treats and it can be pretty easy for us to offer too many treats in a single day to our pets,” Breuninger said.

That’s a problem, because – just as in humans – lugging around all that extra weight can be hazardous to your pet’s health.


Treadmill treatment.

“For example, heart disease and respiratory disease are something that we’ll see. Type 2 diabetes is something that we will see with cats that are obese, and we can see other diseases that are linked with dogs being overweight,” Breuninger said.

So how do you know if your pet needs the treadmill treatment?


Happy the beagle before his diet.


After all, animals – especially dogs – come in all different shapes and sizes.

Breuninger says you can use this as a general guide: looking at your pet from above, he says you should see a distinct tuck at your dog or cat’s waist.  And from the side, you should be able to easily feel – but not see – its ribs.

But if Fido is too fat, or Fluffy is, well, too fluffy, there is something you can do about it.

“You can forget that your pet needs exercise, too,” said Debora Montgomery, who is with the Morris Animal Inn in New Jersey, a kind of daycare for pets where they can run trails, or swim or just play.

But if you don’t have access to that kind of place Montgomery said, “You know even taking a walk you get a chance to bond with your pet. It’s just something simple as giving them more of a healthy diet.”


Happy the beagle after his diet.

That’s what worked for Happy – a rather unhappy beagle.

When she was 10, she weighed 43 pounds and was sluggish and unhealthy. Her new owner simply walked her more often and traded healthy snacks for the junk she used to eat.

At 14, Happy’s a svelte 28 healthy pounds.

Dr. Breuninger says that simple things like cutting back on treats and ensuring that your dog gets in a walk each day will go a long way.

It’s important to remember that each breed of cat and dog is different, so you should always consult a vet before you change their routine or their diet.

Dog Care in Extreme Winter Weather

Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice from our experts:

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter if it can be avoided, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.  However, a healthy grooming is still necessary and will help to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Massaging paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage if your pet will wear them and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.
  • Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

Safety of Baked Pork Skin Chews

We offer NO rawhides at Wholesome Pet Essentials!   We do offer a safe alternative chew of baked pork skin.    Should you be concerned about the safety of baked pork skin?    For those looking for a simple answer….THEY ARE SAFE!    They are digested.     There are no chemicals used in the processing of baked pork skin like that which are used to process rawhide.     For those interested in some data please keep reading this from the University of Illinois study:


Chews are an important part of the pet product industry, with many having potential to decrease plaque or calculus formation. However, their digestion characteristics and gut transit time are virtually unknown. Two experiments were conducted to determine in vitro DM digestibility of expanded pork skin chews and rawhide chews, and apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD), gastrointestinal transit time, and blood metabolite measurements in healthy adult dogs fed a weight-control commercial diet and expanded pork skin chews. In Exp.1, an in vitro method that simulated gastric and small intestinal digestion was used to determine DM digestibility of expanded pork skin chews and rawhide chews. In Exp. 2, after a 22-d baseline phase, 10 purposebred, intact female dogs (5 to 5.5 yr of age; 18.9 to 23.1 kg BW) were fed the diet plus an expanded pork skin chew (~45 g) each day for 22 d. In vitro gastric digestibility of expanded pork skin chews increased with time, with chews being 54.7%, 58.6%, 76.4%, and 86.4% digestible after 6, 12, 18, and 24 h of gastric digestion, respectively. By contrast, gastric digestibility of rawhide chews was 7.6% at 6 h, slowly increased over time, and reached a maximum of 41.6% at 18 h. In vitro gastric plus small intestinal digestibility results indicated near complete digestibility of expanded pork skin chews at all times, whereas rawhide chews were 50 to 85% digestible. In vivo ATTD of DM, OM, and N were greater (P < 0.05) when dogs were fed expanded pork skin chews along with the basal diet, compared with the basal diet alone. However, chew intake did not change transit time measured with a wireless motility device. By contrast, motility index and contraction pattern of the colon were altered (P < 0.05) during chew feeding relative to control. Blood urea N concentrations were greater (P < 0.05) in dogs fed expanded pork skin chews, compared with baseline; this was not surprising, given the increased N intake and absorption from the chews. Intake of expanded pork skin chews resulted in reduced blood cholesterol concentrations (P < 0.05) and tended to decrease blood triglyceride concentrations (P < 0.10). Expanded pork skin had a greater DM digestibility than rawhide chews. In addition, expanded pork skin decreased blood cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, which may justify further research in this area.

That Time of Year Again….

A friendly reminder of things your pet needs to survive comfortably in upcoming winter weather!


15 Ways to Protect Your Dog in Winter

1. Let’s talk temperature!

Some dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, even in very cold temperatures, but dogs with thin coats may need to wear a sweater or coat when out for winter walks. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and also protect the belly. But remember that coats will not prevent frostbite on the ears, feet or tail … so even with a cozy coat, don’t keep your short haired dog out too long in freezing temperatures.

2. Go outside when the sun shines

If your dog feels the cold, try to walk him in the late morning or early afternoon hours when temperatures are a little warmer, and avoid early morning or late evening walks. Spend time playing outdoors while it’s sunny; sunshine brings the added benefit of providing both you and your pet with vitamin D. Play fetch with toys, not sticks, which can cause choking and other injuries. So, if your dog likes to chew and chase, pack a Frisbee, ball or other safe toy and play together in the sun.

3. Indoor pets are happiest

Our family pets need to be indoors with us. The happiest dogs are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but live inside the rest of the time. Don’t leave pets outdoors alone when the temperature drops. A good rule of thumb is to go out with them and when you’re ready to come in, they probably will be too.

4. Cozy bedding

In addition to limiting your dog’s time outdoors on cold days, don’t let your pooch sleep on a cold floor in winter. Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your dog stays warm. Warm blankets can create a snug environment; raised beds can keep your dog off cold tiles or concrete, and heated pet beds can help keep the stiffness out of aging joints. Place your dog’s bed in a warm spot away from drafts, cold tile or uncarpeted floors, preferably in a favorite spot where he sleeps every day so that the area doesn’t feel unfamiliar.

5. Protect your dog from heaters

Dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pet getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat so please make sure you have a pet proof system to keep your heat-seeking pal out of harm’s way!

6. Moisturize

Dry and cold weather can do a number on your pet’s skin. Help prevent dry, flaky skin by adding a skin and coat supplement to his food. Coconut and fish oils are easy foods that can help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy. If you find your pet’s paws, ears or tail are dry or cracking, you can also apply coconut oil topically as needed.

7. No overfeeding please!

Although dogs may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Unless your dog lives outdoors during the winter, he usually won’t need any additional calories during the winter chill. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and adjust his calories accordingly. A high quality, whole foods, preferably raw meat based diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months.

8. Keep your dog hydrated

Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it’s not an adequate substitute for fresh water. If your dog spends time outdoors in your yard, make sure he has access to a water bowl, check it often and break ice that forms on top.

9. Groom your dog

Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep him properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. After bathing, dry your dog thoroughly, especially before allowing him outside

10. Paw care is a must

Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked pads. If your dog has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between his pads to prevent ice buildup between the pads. Winter salt on city sidewalks can also burn your dog’s pads and is toxic, so after walks around the neighborhood, rinse or wipe your dog’s paws to remove any salt – you don’t want him licking it off. If your dog shows signs of discomfort when walking outside on frozen or salted surfaces, consider using dog booties to protect his paws

11. Snow removal

Snow can be a lot of fun but also dangerous for your dog. Snow piled near fences offers your dog escape routes that even well trained dogs often can’t resist. When you clear snow in your yard, pile it away from fences to prevent your dog from climbing over. Snow and ice often accumulate on rooftops and if the sun is out or as temperatures rise, this accumulation can slide and injure your dog. If you can’t clear the snow from the roof, keep your dog away from the roof overhang to prevent injury.

12. Watch where your dog plays

Although your dog is likely to be having a great time outdoors, take frequent indoor breaks for water and warming and don’t ever stay out too long. If you’re walking or playing in unfamiliar areas, keep your dog close. It’s easy for him to venture onto unsafe surfaces such as frozen ponds or lakes. These may be covered in snow and not easily visible.

13. Avoid exposure to toxins

With winter comes antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet and dogs (as well as some children!) will readily lick or drink it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic and just a small amount can be fatal. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where she may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals.

14. NEVER leave your dog unattended in the car, no matter what the season

Just as cars can get dangerously hot in summer, freezing cold temperatures are equally dangerous for your dog in winter. Leaving the car running involves additional risks, including carbon monoxide poisoning if the car is parked in a garage. Leave your dog at home when you go out to run errands.

15. Special care for seniors

Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already give your senior dog a natural joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winter. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during winter weather.