7 Best Dog Foods with Taurine and Carnitine: Our 2019 Guide

When you think about the ideal diet for dogs, you probably picture a recipe rich in animal ingredients like meat, poultry, and fish. The foundation of any healthy diet for dogs is, in fact, protein because it is a rich source of amino acids. As you may remember from school, amino acids are the building blocks of healthy muscle which are essential for muscle maintenance, growth, and repair.

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There are twenty different amino acids, about half of which your dog can produce within his own body. The other 10 are referred to as “essential” amino acids because they must come from your dog’s diet. Some would argue that two of the most important amino acids, taurine and carnitine, are not technically essential amino acids but are still extremely important to your dog’s health.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of carnitine and taurine in your dog’s food and to see our recommendations for the top 7 dog foods with taurine and carnitine.

The Benefits of Taurine and Carnitine in Dog Food

You already know that taurine and carnitine are amino acids, but you may not know that they do not belong in the category of “essential” amino acids. This doesn’t make them any less important, however. In fact, they play an extremely important role in maintaining your dog’s cardiac health.

Taurine is concentrated in the heart muscle which means that it contributes to healthy heart function in addition to supporting eye health, immunity, and other bodily functions. Your dog’s body is capable of synthesizing taurine, but in such low amounts that many dogs are deficient in this particular amino acid. It is also worth noting that taurine production slows down with age, so senior dogs are in particular need of supplemental taurine in their diets. Dog food made with natural sources of cysteine and methionine are best because these amino acids can be used to synthesize taurine.

Related: In this article we discuss the 9 Best Dog Foods without Peas, Lentils, Legumes and Potatoes

Carnitine, often seen as L-carnitine in dog food, is another important amino acid for heart health. This particular amino acid is needed in order for the cells that make up the heart muscle to produce the energy needed to contract. Low levels of L-carnitine can contribute to a specific type of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This disease is characterized by weakened heart muscle, typically in the left ventricle, which prevents adequate blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.

Though all dogs can develop taurine and L-carnitine deficiencies as they age, some breeds are more highly prone to these deficiencies and to DCM. Some of these breeds include Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Cocker Spaniels, Newfoundlands, and Dalmatians.

The 7 Best Dog Foods with Taurine and Carnitine

If your dog comes from a breed that is predisposed to taurine and L-carnitine deficiencies, or if your dog is getting up in years and you’re worried about his heart health, you might consider switching to a dog food supplemented with these two amino acids. Here is our top pick for the best dog food with taurine and carnitine:

Farmina Natural & Delicious Lamb & Ancestral Low-Grain Formula Dry Food

Overall Best Dog Food with Taurine and Carnitine: If you’re looking for a healthy, high-quality diet for your dog that also contains supplemental taurine and L-carnitine, look no further than this Farmina Natural & Delicious Lamb & Ancestral Low-Grain Formula Dry Food. This recipe features fresh lamb and dehydrated lamb as the top two ingredients to ensure a protein-rich diet and plenty of natural sources for amino acids. This recipe contains limited carbohydrates to ensure digestibility and it is a low-glycemic formula as well. It is completely free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as artificial additives, but contains plenty of beneficial supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, prebiotic fibers, dried fruits and vegetables, and chelated minerals.

  • Pros: Lamb as the first two ingredients, low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic, supplemented with taurine and L-carnitine, dried fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, rich in protein and healthy fats
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe, expensive to feed as a staple diet

6 More Top-Rated Taurine and Carnitine Dog Foods

If the dog food recipe reviewed above doesn’t work for you or for your dog, don’t worry! There are plenty of dog foods out there that contain supplemental carnitine and taurine. Here are six more top-rated dog foods you can try:

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Food

Easily one of the most popular dog food brands on the market, this Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Food is a great source of taurine and L-carnitine for dogs. Not only does it contain several natural sources for these amino acids, but it also contains supplemental taurine for good measure. This recipe features premium roasted meats like buffalo, lamb, bison, and venison with plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It is supplemented with prebiotic fibers and probiotics for healthy digestion, plus contains fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for antioxidants and key vitamins and minerals. Plus, it is naturally grain-free and highly digestible.

  • Pros: Natural sources of amino acids, supplemental taurine, premium roasted meats, rich in omega fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics, fresh fruits and veggies, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (potato & pea), main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Senior Recipe

You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot for a high-quality dog food rich in taurine and L-carnitine. This American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Senior Recipe is specifically formulated for senior dogs and is made with natural sources for key amino acids. It also contains supplemental taurine and L-carnitine and provides a total of 30% crude protein. This recipe features both fresh chicken and chicken meal along with digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, and chelated mineral supplements. Overall, it is a great product at a great price.

  • Pros: Natural sources of amino acids, supplemental taurine and L-carnitine, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, 30% crude protein
  • Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe

To provide your dog with a highly digestible and high-quality source of taurine and L-carnitine, try this Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe. This recipe features deboned turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal as natural sources of these amino acids as well as supplemental sources. It contains peas and potatoes for fiber and digestible carbohydrates, plus fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. This recipe is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, plus it is supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics for healthy and regular digestion.

  • Pros: Natural and supplemental sources of taurine and L-carnitine, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, expensive to feed as a staple diet

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

To make sure your senior dog gets all the protein he needs, try this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Grain-Free Chicken Recipe. This recipe features fresh chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients to provide a concentrated source of protein as well as natural sources for taurine and L-carnitine. This recipe is naturally grain-free for digestibility with dried fermentation products for probiotic support. It contains plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat support with fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients. All in all, it provides a full 30% crude protein with just 12% fat and 7% fiber.

  • Pros: Natural and supplemental sources of amino acids, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in protein and omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, prebiotics and probiotics, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Fiber content may be too high for some dogs, contains plant protein (pea protein)

Merrick Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Senior Recipe

Formulated to meet the changing needs of senior dogs, this Merrick Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Senior Recipe is also a great source of taurine and L-carnitine. This recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient with digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas. It contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources of antioxidants as well as key vitamins and minerals. It also contains chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption with dried fermentation products for probiotic support. All in all, it provides a whopping 32% protein with 12% fat to control the calorie content and 3.5% fiber for digestion.

  • Pros: Natural and supplemental amino acids, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids for skin and coat, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Senior Recipe with Real Chicken

When it comes to high-quality nutrition, it’s hard to beat something like this Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Senior Recipe with Real Chicken. Not only does this recipe feature high-protein kibble, but it also contains freeze-dried raw pieces for a boost of flavor and nutrition. This recipe contains natural sources of taurine and L-carnitine as well as supplemental sources, plus it is loaded with natural meat flavor. This formula features chicken and salmon as the primary proteins with digestible grain-free carbohydrates. It is rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, plus it contains plenty of dietary fiber as well as probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: High-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw bites, natural and supplemental sources of amino acids, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs get too much taurine? – Amino acids are the building blocks of protein which is essential for healthy muscles. You may wonder, however, whether it is possible for your dog to get too much of a particular amino acid like taurine – the answer is no. Taurine deficiency is fairly common in certain breeds and senior dogs and is much more likely than a dog getting too much taurine in its diet. Any amount of taurine over the recommended daily allowance is not likely to be toxic.

What are good sources of taurine for dogs? – Taurine is not an essential amino acid which means that your dog’s body is capable of synthesizing it for itself. What you need to know, however, is that taurine production slows down as your dog ages and some dogs simply don’t produce enough of it to meet their needs. Fortunately, taurine is found easily in animal products, particularly muscle meats. You dog’s liver can also synthesize taurine from two other amino acids – cysteine and methionine. These amino acids can be found in animal products like dark meat chicken and turkey, pork, lamb, and beef.

Do eggs have taurine for dogs? – Animal products contain the highest levels of taurine for dogs, and it is most highly concentrated in dark meat poultry and meat. Eggs contain taurine as well, and they also contain cysteine and methionine which your dog’s body can use to synthesize taurine.

 

3 thoughts on “7 Best Dog Foods with Taurine and Carnitine: Our 2019 Guide”

  1. Avatar
    Jonnie L. Guerrisi

    I hope this article was written and copied from a Veterinary Nutritionist, Cardiologist, or biochemist and not written by someone with a certificate in fitness nutrition and wellness trends. I’m sure you are aware of the FDA updated alert on 2/19/2019. It states 90% of dogs developing dietary DCM are eating grain free food. As a former cardiology tech, I am well aware of the supplements needed by Vegans due to the antinutrients in legumes, lentils and tubers. It’s not just taurine, but L-carnitine, iron, calcium, vitamin C and phosphous. Did you know that 5 – 10mg of phytic acid can reduce iron absorption by 50% and it blocks phosphorous, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc? Phosphorous and zinc by 80%. Magnesium 40%. It also blocks pepsin and trypsin which are needed to break down protein. The mineral binding effect is huge. I see you are supporting foods that, many only as of September 2018, started adding taurine into their food. They created the dietary DCM fiasco by formulating kibble without proper research, professional canine staff (board certified vet nutritionists, cardiologists, biochemists, toxicologists, etc) and now without the knowledge of how they created the disease think they know the answer to fixing it. Do they know how much taurine to add to the bag to overcome the antinutrients phytate and lectins and their ability to BLOCK the absorption of taurine? Do they know how much of each ingredient they need to remove from the bag to make it a balanced diet and be sure the nutrients and amino acids are bioavailable to the dogs system? Taste of the Wild and Blue Buffalo have cases of dietary DCM. Grain inclusive foods, raw diets and home-cooked diets have cases of dietary DCM diagnosed. My son’s girlfriend has a bichon that is 4 years old and was diagnosed last week with dietary DCM. He had been fed Canidae for three years. Wouldn’t anyone that truly cares about dogs, hold off on giving dietary advice until the exact cause is determined?

    1. Avatar

      My vet recently reported 2 Golden Retrievers with DCM and he did sent the data to FDA and also send me articles on the warning of ‘ grain free diets’ of which peas, potatoes and lentils are under research. He also sent me a list of foods that vets are recommending. They included Hills, Iams, Purina and another brand. But in my 30 plus years owning dogs and cats, I find it very hard to understand that prior to grain free food we had Purina – yet Purina is a plant-based dry dog food using a limited amount of unspecified meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein. Purina made a lot of dogs sick, period. I also fed my dog Prescriptive hills (also not grain-free) for 10 years and she passed away from heart enlargement, liver cancer and renal failure. The point that I am getting at is that just because a small percentage of dogs are dying and getting sick from DCM does not mean its related to their grain free diet. The main reason is that in the last 5 years more people are feeding their dogs grain free diet than generic food. Also, grain free is very expensive than non grain food, so the people who buy this food normally are the ones that actually take their dogs for routine vet checks than the population who buy low class Purina and generic dog food from the grocery store. Whether someone is feeding their dog grain free or not, you need to make sure that it contains taurine as one of the ingredients, including antioxidants and amino acids. I googled all grain free foods and some generic brands and it was hard to find taurine listed as an ingredient. My bet is that more and more food companies are now going to start looking at the ingredients that need to be added whether its grain-free or not.

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