When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raised concerns about pulse-based dog foods in 2018, it put a damper on the market. The formulations were associated with increased incidence of dilated cardiomyopathy or enlarged heart, a condition that, left untreated, results in a dog’s heart failure and death.
The chief candidate as a cause is taurine, an amino acid that has important functions in the heart and brain.
Pulses lack taurine. Dogs’ bodies naturally manufacture taurine in their livers and nervous systems, but they need two other amino acids, cysteine and methionine, in order to make it. Pulses are short on these as well.
An easy fix, at least in the interim, is to add taurine to the recipe for doggo’s dinner.
“Another simple thing is what manufacturers have done instead, in the last year and a half, they’ve just gone ahead and started adding taurine,” said University of Saskatchewan researcher Lynn Weber.
“Almost all of the diets, if you look at the ingredients list, taurine will be somewhere at the bottom. You don’t need that much, but they’ve just started adding it.”