Understanding the importance of taurine and L-carnitine for dogs

A look at the health benefits of taurine and L-carnitine, and why they’re added to dog food.

As pet parents, we understand the long-term benefits that good dog food can bring to your dog’s life. It affects not only his health but also his activity level, energy, and overall quality of life. With that said, you may have read about the importance of taurine and L-carnitine concerning dogs and their health, but what exactly are these subtances, and why are they an important component of canine nutrition?

What are taurine and L-carnitine?

Taurine is an amino acid that supports many of your dog’s bodily systems. It plays a large role in the health and vitality of your dog’s heart, which is why it’s such an important component of any pet food recipe. “Taurine supplementation (in dog food) may also be beneficial for the dog’s immune health,” says veterinarian Dr. Bradley Quest. “L-carnitine is also commonly added to light or weight control diets as it can help mobilize fat for energy in the body.”

L-carnitine is also an amino acid. It helps transport fatty acids that are utilized for cellular production of energy and, like taurine, it’s very important for dogs’ heart health. L- carnitine is primarily found in red meat but is also present in chicken and fish.

Is my dog getting enough of these nutrients?

When you’re analyzing a dog food brand, check the ingredient panel to see if it includes meat and meat meal as the first ingredients. It will bring additional health benefits to your dog due to the high protein content, and is a great way to know that your dog is getting enough taurine and L-carnitine. “If your dog is eating a high-quality diet that meets the AAFCO recommendations for canine nutrition, it is likely your dog is getting plenty of these nutrients,” says Dr. Quest. “Since both of these nutrients are high in meat meals, it is a good idea to choose diets with meat and meat meals.”

Given the wide variety of pet foods available on today’s market, it can be difficult to know where to look. No one wants to spend hours in the pet store reading labels! One great example of a dog food that fully utilizes red meat is Essence Ranch & Meadow recipe. The first four ingredients are boar, goat, lamb, and pork, and the fifth is a meat meal. Along with taurine and L-carnitine, the recipe is rounded out with such healthy ingredients as coconut flour, pumpkin, and chia seed oil.

Both taurine and L-carnitine bring a wide variety of health benefits for dogs. Some dog food brands reinforce these amino acids in their recipes, which will only strengthen these health benefits in your dogs. If you have any questions about these nutrients in your dog’s diet, it is always best to talk with your veterinarian.