Taurine and Epilepsy

heart murmur in dogs

More cases of epilepsy are seen in dogs than in cats. Cats, unlike dogs, are a species that cannot synthesize the amino acid Taurine and so care is taken to add it to their diet. One of the effects of Taurine in the body is as a controller of nervous impulses, and supplementing your dog’s diet to give him higher levels can raise the threshold at which fits are triggered.

Shawn Messonnier, DVM, in his Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats (2001), notes that Taurine “affects the release of neurotransmitters in the brain” and that it “may also be useful for treating patients with hepatitis.” He says it “is thought to be quite safe” and says for dogs, “a typical therapeutic dosage is 500 mg 2 to 3 times daily.”

Susan G. Wynn, DVM, and Steve Marsden, DVM, in Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine: Science and Tradition (2003), state: “Taurine: in humans central nervous system amino acid imbalance is receiving increasing attention. Taurine is an inhibitory amino acid that appears to be released from the hippocampus during seizure activity (Wilson, 1996). In vitro studies suggest that Taurine released during seizure activity may have a protective effect (Saransaari, 200).

Whether these elevated Taurine levels represent a protective effect or are causally related to seizure activity is a matter of debate. Clinically, Taurine supplementation to prevent seizures has not been uniformly successful. Taurine-deficient diets have been shown to decrease seizure activity in some models (Eppler, 1999), but if seizures are a problem in animals eating diets low in Taurine, supplementation may be attempted. Doses range from 250 to 1000 mg.”

You might also consider adding taurine to your dog’s diet in a natural form. Food sources of taurine include:


Fish contain high levels of taurine. On average, fish contains 36 mg per oz if fed raw. Raw shrimp can yield 48 mg per oz.


Animal meat is a good source of taurine. Cooked beef muscle meal contains about 10 mg taurine per oz. Raw beef liver contains about 5.5 mg taurine per oz. Cooked lamb contains about 13.5 mg taurine per oz. Cooked chicken contains about 9.5 mg taurine per oz. On the whole, heart and organs are also higher in taurine content.

Generally, taurine is not found in very high concentrations in plant sources.

Taurine is broken down by heat, thus, cooking meat will destroy over half to maybe 2/3 of the taurine available in raw meats. It is difficult to calculate the amount of taurine actually supplied by a particular diet, given the variables of cooking. Dark meat is also a richer source of taurine, yielding about ten times more than white meat, and there is a difference overall between muscles and individual animals.

If you would like to supplement with taurine from other sources, make certain the taurine is in capsule form, not tablet, since tablets have binders that capsules don’t. Also make certain that taurine supplements do not contain any preservatives and no other supplements.

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