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Taurine

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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Overview

  • Taurine is a beta-amino acid that is synthesized in the liver from dietary sulphur-containing amino acids, methionine and cysteine. Dietary taurine, absorbed in the small intestine, complements the pool of synthesized taurine.
  • Taurine is found in highest concentration in excitable tissues, including the heart, CNS, retina, and skeletal muscle, where it appears to modulate Ca++ flux.
  • Its functions include: maintaining physical and functional integrity of photoreceptor cells in the retina; supporting proper development and functioning of CNS neurons; sustaining correct cardiac function (related to cellular K+ content/efflux); regulation of lymphocyte development and lymphocyte/neutrophil function. It also helps prevent platelet aggregation. One of taurine's best-known functions is the conjugation of bile acids in cats and dogs.
  • Unlike dogs, cats cannot substitute glycine for taurine when taurine is deficient. They also have limited synthetic ability because of reduced activity of cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase. Because of these two differences, cats require taurine in their diet (i.e. it is an essential amino acids in felines).
  • Not surprisingly, taurine deficiency as a clinical entity has been most extensively noted in cats. It takes the form of a syndrome involving "feline central retinal degeneration" and cardiomyopathy. Taurine deficiency may also lead to abortion, low birth weights of kittens, and various problems related to retarded growth and development of kittens.
  • Dogs may also develop taurine deficiency, too. Rice bran and other rice-containing diets may prime dogs and cats for taurine deficiency.
  • Taurine is available over the counter, but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This compound does not require registration as it is classed as a nutrient.
  • Human formulations: Myriad OTC preparations available in health food stores.
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Taurine

  • Prevention and treatment of taurine deficiency in cats (ref: taurine deficiency-related retinal degeneration and cardiomyopathy).
  • Treatment of taurine/carnitine deficient cardiomyopathy in American cocker spaniels.
  • Adjunctive treatment of congestive cardiac failure.
  • Treatment of seizures via membrane-stabilizing action (though definitive data re. efficacy is lacking).

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, taurine can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Taurine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Taurine has very low potential for causing toxicity. Minor GI distress is possible after oral dosing.
  • Treated animals should be monitored for clinical improvement and, ideally, taurine levels in whole blood.

    Drug Interactions

  • Drug interactions can occur such as with chemotherapeutics, such as cisplatin, fluorouracil, and paclitaxel, which may act to increase the daily requirement of taurine.

    How Taurine is Supplied

  • Tablets or capsules: 50 mg, 125 mg, 500 mg, 850 mg and 1000 mg

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.

    Dogs and cats (maintenance needs):
  • 1000 – 1200 mg/kg DM of dry diets
  • 2200 – 2500 mg/kg DM for canned diets

    Dogs (supplement):
  • 400 - 500 mg taurine/40 pounds body weight PO BID

    Cats (supplement):
  • 250 – 500 mg/cat PO SID or BID

  • Additional taurine may be required for patients in chronic renal failure and in those that have been critically injured (inflammatory mediators decrease alter tissue uptake of taurine).

  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.



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