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Taurine deficiency in Newfoundlands fed commercially available complete and balanced diets

Robert C. Backus DVM, PhD1, Gabrielle Cohen DVM2,3, Paul D. Pion DVM, DACVIM4, Kathryn L. Good DVM, DACVO5,6, Quinton R. Rogers PhD, DACVN7, and Andrea J. Fascetti VMD, PhD, DACVN, DACVIM8
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  • 1 Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8741.
  • | 2 Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8741.
  • | 3 Present address is Barney and Russum Animal Clinic, 2255 Boynton Ave, Fairfield, CA 94533.
  • | 4 Veterinary Information Network, 777 West Covell Blvd, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 5 Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8741.
  • | 6 Present address is Animal Eye Care, 1612 Washington Blvd, Freemont, CA 94539.
  • | 7 Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8741.
  • | 8 Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8741.

Abstract

Objective—To determine taurine status in a large group of Newfoundlands related by environment, diet, or breeding to a dog with dilated cardiomyopathy and taurine deficiency.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—19 privately owned Newfoundlands between 5 months and 11.5 years old that had been fed commercial dry diets meeting established nutrient recommendations.

Procedure—Diet histories were obtained, and blood, plasma, and urine taurine concentrations and plasma methionine and cysteine concentrations were measured. In 8 dogs, taurine concentrations were measured before and after supplementation with methionine for 30 days. Ophthalmic examinations were performed in 16 dogs; echocardiography was performed in 6 dogs that were taurine deficient.

Results—Plasma taurine concentrations ranged from 3 to 228 nmol/mL. Twelve dogs had concentrations < 40 nmol/mL and were considered taurine deficient. For dogs with plasma concentrations < 40 nmol/mL, there was a significant linear correlation between plasma and blood taurine concentrations. For dogs with plasma concentrations > 40 nmol/mL, blood taurine concentrations did not vary substantially. Taurine-deficient dogs had been fed lamb meal and rice diets. Retinal degeneration, dilated cardiomyopathy, and cystinuria were not found in any dog examined for these conditions. The taurine deficiency was reversed by a change in diet or methionine supplementation.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicate a high prevalence of taurine deficiency among an environmentally and genetically related cohort of Newfoundlands fed apparently complete and balanced diets. Blood taurine concentrations indicative of taurine deficiency in Newfoundlands may be substantially less than concentrations indicative of a deficiency in cats. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:1130–1136)