Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which serve numerous functions in the body such as muscle repair and growth, enzyme production, immunity and energy.
While there are ten essential amino acids that are vital to your dog’s health (Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine), none of these are being discussed by pet parents and food manufacturers currently as much as the non-essential amino acid, Taurine.
Taurine is an amino acid that is crucial for many aspects of your dog’s health, from cognitive function to heart health. Nutritional research indicates that taurine is generally not considered an essential amino acid for dogs, because dogs can synthesize taurine from cystine and methionine. Every ZIWI recipe contains taurine, cystine and methionine. Our website lists the levels of these amino acids for each recipe, under the typical analysis.
Most mammals are able to synthesize enough taurine from other amino acids to meet their needs, and fortunately taurine is readily obtained from the diet, as long as the diet contains high-quality animal-based proteins. Unfortunately, it is not stored in large quantities in the body and so must be consumed on a regular basis.
Quality Meat Protein
Animal-based protein sources like egg, meat, dairy, and fish contain more amino acids, including taurine, than do plant-based protein sources like soybeans or corn gluten meal. Products that rely on plants to provide most of their protein cannot provide all the essential amino acids cats need without supplementation - even if the food appears to be “high protein,” based on its guaranteed analysis.
The quality of the protein is dependent upon the ability of the particular species to digest (breakdown and absorb) that particular protein. Lastly, when the protein is broken down, it must contain the array of amino acids that are essential to that species – known as a species-appropriate diet. ZIWI Peak air-dried recipes contain 96% free-range meat, organs, bone, and seafood, and are over 95% digestible.
ZIWI’s recipes are naturally rich in taurine as well as the other amino acids. Due to the large quantities of meat, organs, and seafood in our air-dried recipes, we only need to add a small amount of supplemental taurine in some recipes to guarantee our batches meet AAFCO standards. All ZIWI Peak recipes are identified as 100% complete and balanced which means that our recipes contain all of these required nutrients.
FDA Involvement in DCM crisis
In July 2018, the FDA announced that they have begun investigating reports of DCM (canine dilated cardiomyopathy) in dogs eating certain pet foods, many labelled as "grain-free," which contained a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes. Taurine plays a critical role in normal vision, normal digestion, normal heart muscle function, maintaining normal pregnancy and fetal development, and to maintain a healthy immune system.
More recently, on June 27th, 2019, the FDA also issued an updated press release which included a list of brands connected to DCM reported cases. Nearly all the grain-free products reported had methionine-cystine values above the minimum nutritional requirement of .65%, AAFCO’s published requirement for adult maintenance food for dogs. The FDA is still gathering information to better understand taurine metabolism and its potential link to DCM.