13 Best Dog Foods with Taurine and Carnitine

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

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We all love our pets and want the best for them. When making choices for our pets, we all want to ensure that our choices will benefit them in the long-run. One of the most important choices that pet parents have to make include finding the best nutrition for their pet.

As animals age, their dietary needs and preferences also change. Aging pets need more care and specific nutrients in their diet. Taurine and Carnitine and two of those essential nutrients that your aging pet needs.

As our pets age, we all want them to stay strong and healthy. However, some dogs can develop heart problems and mobility issues. Taurine and Carnitine are two amino acids that are building blocks for a healthy heart and muscular system. By simply switching your pet’s food to something high in Taurine and Carnitine, you can prevent heart issues such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).

After reviewing the available options, we have compiled a list of the best options that contain taurine and carnitine.

The Best Dog Foods with Taurine and Carnitine

Best ProductsRatingTop Ingredients
1. Farmina: N&D Ancestral Grain Lamb & Blueberry4.6Lamb, Dehydrated Lamb, Whole Spelt…
2. Earthborn Holistic: Meadow Feast Grain-Free4.6Lamb Meal, Pumpkin, Tapioca…
3. Diamond: Naturals Skin & Coat Formula All Life Stages4.5Salmon, Fish Meal, Potatoes
4. Blue Buffalo: Wilderness Denali Dinner Grain-Free4.7Deboned Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Tapioca Starch…
5. Now Fresh: Grain-Free Adult Fish Recipe4.8De-Boned Trout, Whole Dried Egg, Peas…

1. Farmina: N&D Ancestral Grain Lamb & Blueberry Adult Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Lamb, Dehydrated Lamb, Whole Spelt, Whole Oats, Dried Whole Eggs

Farmina’s formulas are made using premium ingredients with the correct amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This Lamb and blueberry recipe includes many beneficial nutrients along with taurine and L-carnitine for heart and joint health. Lamb, organic oats, carrots, and blueberries make a delicious and balanced meal.

The low glycemic nature of this food makes it a healthier option for your pet. This filler-free kibble is also coated with food vitamins for maximum nutrition and flavor.

2. Earthborn Holistic: Meadow Feast Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Pumpkin, Tapioca, Dried Egg, Sweet Potato

Earthborn Holistic’s Meadow Feast recipe is made with limited ingredients to minimize food-related sensitivities. The healthy mix of lamb protein, natural fruits and vegetables provides many important nutrients. Additionally, this grain-free formula also has taurine and L-carnitine that support heart and joint health. This recipe provides adult dogs of all breeds with balanced nutrition.

Earthborn Holistic believes in purposeful nutrition and selects all ingredients carefully. It is also a great option for environmentally conscious pet parents.

3. Diamond: Naturals Skin & Coat Formula All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Salmon, Fish Meal, Potatoes, Lentils, Peas

Salmon is the first ingredient in the Skin and Coat formula by Diamond. It is a great option for dogs that have skin-related sensitivities due to its hypoallergenic protein source. Salmon is combined with superfoods such as pumpkin, blueberries, and papaya to make a balanced kibble.

This formula is also high in taurine and L-carnitine for a healthy heart and lean muscle tone. Species-specific probiotics make this an easily digestible kibble that supports immune health.

4. Blue Buffalo: Wilderness Denali Dinner with Wild Salmon, Venison & Halibut Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Tapioca Starch, Pea Protein, Peas

Blue Buffalo’s Denali Dinner recipe combines the flavors of salmon, venison, and halibut for a delicious protein-rich kibble. Potatoes and peas work with the protein to provide a great source of energy. This grain-free kibble contains taurine, L-carnitine, ARA, and DHA for holistic health.

This food is further fortified with the addition of LifeSource Bits— a precise mix of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants selected by animal health professionals. This kibble is free of filler ingredients and artificial additives.

5. Now Fresh: Grain-Free Adult Fish Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: De-Boned Trout, Whole Dried Egg, Peas, Potatoes, Pea Flour

This grain-free recipe by Now Fresh uses fresh trout as the first ingredient with additional protein from salmon and herring. Minimally processed wholesome berries, fruits, and vegetables provide essential nutrients. Probiotics, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids support digestive and skin health.

This formula also has added taurine and L-carnitine to ensure heart and joint health. This food is suitable for dogs between one to seven years of age.

6. Zignature: Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Trout & Salmon Meal Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Trout, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Sunflower Oil

Zignature’s grain-free recipe is made using limited ingredients for a simple but balanced meal. Trout is the protein source which is combined with low-glycemic, fiber-rich peas, chickpeas, and flaxseed. This food provides complete nutrition with added vitamins, taurine, and L-carnitine. Coat health is supported by Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Zignature only selects local and sustainable ingredients because they believe in responsible nutrition. This formula is free of wheat, corn, soy, and artificial additives.

7. Halo: Holistic Senior Grain-Free Turkey, Turkey Liver & Duck Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Turkey, Dried Chickpeas, Dried Lentils, Dried Peas, Dried Egg Product

Halo’s grain-free formula is made for senior dogs using non-GMO ingredients. This dry food combines protein from turkey, turkey liver, and duck. Halo believes in holistic nutrition and only uses whole meat as a protein source for biologically appropriate nutrition. This recipe is also low-glycemic and fiber-rich because of the addition of chickpeas, lentils, and peas.

The added taurine, L-carnitine, and DHA provide aging pets with necessary health support. This all-natural and filler-free kibble is easy to digest.

8. Go!: Solutions Carnivore Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, De-Boned Chicken, De-Boned Turkey

This Go! recipe is crafted using protein from many sources for your senior dog. High-quality chicken, turkey, and salmon meals are natural sources of chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health. This grain-free kibble includes non-GMO fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. The probiotics in this kibble ensure easy digestion.

Added taurine and L-carnitine ensure your aging pet stays healthy and strong. This recipe features all-natural ingredients and has zero artificial additives.

9. Blue Buffalo: Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal

This food by Blue Buffalo combines chicken and brown rice for a balanced meal. Whole grains, garden fruits, and vegetables are combined with real meat for a wholesome recipe. This recipe is further fortified with glucosamine, taurine, and L-carnitine to keep your pet strong.  Additionally, this formula also includes LifeSource bits that add essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There are no filler ingredients or artificial additives in this formula.

10. Solid Gold: Hund-n-Flocken Lamb, Brown Rice & Pearled Barley Recipe Whole Grain Adult Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Pearled Barley, Oatmeal

Solid Gold’s Hund-n-Flocken recipe includes pasture-raised lamb that is rich in protein. The lamb is combined with whole grains such as brown rice and pearled barley. This food is created to sharpen your pet’s mind, ease digestion, and provide immune support. This kibble is free of filler ingredients and made with wholesome, natural superfoods.

Solid Gold believes good nutrition leads to immune health, delivering 90 million probiotics per pound. This healthy kibble provides your pet with energy to take on the day!

11. Wellness: CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes

This grain-free formula by Wellness uses turkey and chicken as a premium protein source. There are many benefits of feeding your dog this formula, since it incudes ingredients that are optimal for immune and digestive health. Whole fruits and vegetables provide minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

This filler-free formula formula is also fortified with added taurine, and glucosamine to ensure your pet stays strong and active.

12. Natural Balance: L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Lamb, Brown Rice, Lamb Meal, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran

Natural Balance uses limited ingredients to create this simple but balanced lamb and brown rice recipe. Real lamb makes this kibble a protein-rich option for your large-breed dog who needs some extra nutrition. Whole grains such as brown rice provide your pet with ample fiber for easy digestion. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants support your pet’s immune health.

This formula is free of filler ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, and peas. The crunchiness of the kibble adds texture while keeping your dog’s teeth clean.

Bonus Foods

Merrick: Healthy Grains Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley

This recipe by Merrick is made for senior dogs with chicken as the protein source. Delectable chicken and turkey meals enhance the flavor of this kibble. There are many healthy fiber-rich grains in this recipe such as brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and quinoa for easy digestion. You can be sure your aging pet is getting all the necessary support with the added DHA, chondroitin, glucosamine, and taurine.

This formula has no fillers or artificial additives and is optimized to support the overall health of your senior dog.

Nature’s Recipe: Adult Lamb & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Lamb, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Barley, Oatmeal

Nature’s Recipe uses real lamb to create a protein-rich formula for your adult dog. This recipe include whole grains that are rich in fiber and nutrients. This kibble is protein-rich and easy to digest. With zero fillers and artificial additives, you can be sure your pet is getting the balanced nutrition they need. The added vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and taurine work together to ensure overall health and wellness.

Taste of the Wild: Pine Forest Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils

Taste of The Wild’s Pine Forest formula is grain-free and made with venison as the protein source. This recipe contains high levels of protein (28%) which support your pet’s bones and muscles. Garbanzo beans and peas serve to provide your pet with carbohydrates for energy. This recipe is made with natural superfoods for richness in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Your pet also receives digestive support from added species-specific probiotics. The DHA and taurine in this formula aid brain and heart health.

Buyer’s Guide

Being a responsible pet-owner, one should be well-informed about what goes into their dog’s diet choices. As our pets age, they tend to rely more on their diets for some essential nutrients. This is especially true for senior dogs who might experience health issues if not given a proper diet. Most dog food brands offer a similar set of ingredients, but there are some key differences that set apart the best from the rest.

In order to understand the benefits of taurine and carnitine, keep on reading.

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids play an essential role in muscle development and tissue repair. There are twenty different amino acids, out of which nine are considered essential. These essential amino acids play an important role in many vital processes and are obtained from food. As a result, if there is an essential amino acid deficiency, it can impact the nervous, immune, digestive, and reproductive system of your dog.

Essential amino acids include:

  • Arginine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

What is Taurine?

Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that is highly concentrated in the heart, eyes, and brain. Although, taurine is not considered essential for dogs, there is no factual evidence of whether dogs can make enough taurine or not. Taurine works to ensure cardiovascular health and is essential for dogs that are susceptible to cardiovascular issues.

What is Carnitine?

Carnitine usually refers to the amino acid, L-carnitine which is responsible for energy production and brain function. However, it is umbrella term for L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine. Your dog needs L-carnitine to produce energy at a cellular level. Most dogs can have trouble getting enough carnitine from their diet and might need supplements.

L-carnitine is responsible for energy production in dogs. Carnitine basically carries fatty acids to cells, where they are broken down to create energy in the form of ATP. If a dog has a carnitine deficiency, the heart does not have enough energy to pump blood to the body. As a result, the heart’s beating rhythm could also be disturbed.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs

A gradual degeneration of the heart is referred to as cardiomyopathy. Due to compromised heart health, the muscles of the heart become thinner over time. These thin muscles can stretch due to the blood pressure in the heart. As a result, the heart becomes enlarged due to dilated cardiac muscles. This condition is common among large-breed dogs such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, or the Irish Wolfhound.

While genetics play a large role in the development of DCM in dogs, there are other facts that should be considered as well. Your dog’s diet can also play a large role in determining their overall health. DCM has also been linked with taurine deficiency on dogs, while L-carnitine was found to be low in dogs genetically predisposed to DCM.

The signs and symptoms of DCM in dogs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pale gums
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • Fainting spells

How to Naturally Increase Taurine and Carnitine Levels

If your dog has no underlying health issues but you want to increase the amounts of taurine and carnitine in their diet, you can either:

  • Feed your dog a diet that has added taurine and carnitine.
  • Look for food that has natural sources of taurine and carnitine.

There are many foods that are naturally rich in taurine and carnitine.

Natural sources of taurine include meat and eggs, but organ meats are also high in taurine. The ingredients you should look for to increase taurine naturally are:

  • Shellfish such as oysters, clams, and mussels.
  • Fish (Whitefish and Tuna are high in taurine)
  • Dark meats such as turkey and chicken
  • Organ meats such as chicken liver and beef liver

Carnitine is predominantly obtained from red meats in your dog’s diet, but it can also be found in milk, fish, and eggs. Red meats high in carnitine are:

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Venison

What to Look For in Foods Rich in Taurine and Carnitine

With the recent spike in cases of DCM in dogs, many pet food brands now include taurine and carnitine in their formulas. With that being said, just because a food contains taurine and carnitine does not make it the healthiest option for your dog. There are certain things you need to consider when purchasing food for your dog.

1. High-quality Meat Protein

Dogs are carnivores and need high-quality meat in their diets to thrive. You should look for dog food with whole meat listed as the first ingredient. Meat is biologically appropriate and a rich natural source of taurine and carnitine among other amino acids. If your dog has no health concerns, feeding them a diet rich in meat protein can also provide them with the necessary amounts of taurine and carnitine. Meat also contains all essential amino acids so you can be sure your pet is getting complete and balanced nutrition.

2. Meat Type

If you are looking to add taurine and carnitine to your pet’s diet through food, you should also consider the type of meat. We have already discussed the natural sources of taurine and carnitine above. In conclusion, recipes that have seafood, organ meats, and eggs are good for adding taurine. However, carnitine is found primarily in red meats.

3. Healthy Fats

Your dog’s food should contain the proper amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids come from sources such as fish oil. Your dog’s food should contain fats in moderate amounts.

4. Easily Digestible Carbohydrates

Many pet-owners are switching to grain-free diets as they believe that grain-free diets are better for their pets. Grain-free diets are not a necessity unless your pet is allergic to grains, and sometimes also use fillers to substitute for the lack of grains. Many grain-free foods may use starches and legumes to bulk up the food, rather than provide balanced nutrition.

If you see potatoes and peas listed in the first two ingredients, you should be vary of buying these recipes. Recipes that include chickpeas and sweet potatoes are a much healthier alternative.

5. Meets the AAFCO Requirements

Pet foods that say “complete and balanced meal” on the label meet the AAFCO requirements for balanced nutrition for dogs at a particular life stage.

Grain-Free Diets and DCM in Dogs

Over the past two years, there has been much controversy regarding the relationship between grain-free diets and DCM in dogs. Due to a rise in DCM cases among dogs, the FDA began an investigation to determine the cause. Although the study revealed no cause-effect relationship between grain-free diets and DCM, it became a cause of worry for many pet parents. Although, one should note that in many of the reported cases, the dog foods listed contained high amounts of potatoes and multiple legumes.

While grain-free diets can be a great option for pets that have digestive sensitivities or allergies, the same cannot be said for perfectly healthy pets. You can choose a grain-free diet for your pet but it is important to consider the ingredients before making a purchase. High-quality grain-free formulas do not use starches to bulk up food, but use real meat or quality protein sources as an alternative to grains.

FAQs

What is taurine?

Taurine is one of twenty amino acids your dog needs for its body to function properly. It is involved in many vital processes and is responsible for strengthening the heart. It is also responsible for a healthy nervous system and protecting the retina of the eye.

How can my dog get taurine naturally?

Taurine is found in high quantities in many foods, particularly meat and eggs. Generally bigger animals, such as cows, have low levels of taurine in their meat. You should opt for fish and chicken as rich source of taurine.

What is carnitine?

Carnitine refers to L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine. They are amino acids that are responsible for metabolizing fatty acids to create energy and removing toxic waste from cells.

How can my dog get carnitine naturally?

Carnitine is found in high quantities in red meat, milk, and fish. However, red meats are the primary source of Carnitine. The redder the meat, the higher the quantity of carnitine. Red meats such as beef, lamb, and pork are high in carnitine.

Should my puppy’s food contain taurine?

Puppies generally do not need a diet that is rich in nutrients as it can encourage rapid growth in the early years. However, if your puppy is a breed that is genetically predisposed to DCM, you should consult your vet about the benefits of a taurine-rich diet for your puppy.

How is taurine beneficial for my dog?

Taurine is responsible for a healthy heart and circulatory system. Certain dogs that are pre-disposed to DCM also have taurine deficiencies. Taurine helps in maintaining a healthy heart. It is also responsible for the health of the brain and eyes, which it protects from degeneration.

Should my adult dog’s food contain taurine?

It is not necessary for your adult dog’s food to contain taurine, but it is surely beneficial for aging dogs. Taurine in your dog’s food has many benefits for his health and can reduce the risk of heart problems.

What are the symptoms of a taurine deficiency?

Prevention is better than cure so you should always screen your pet before adoption. Health screening can determine if your dog has any conditions that can cause a taurine deficiency.

The symptoms for a taurine deficiency include:

  • Excessive panting without exercise.
  • Fainting
  • Collapsing
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful urination
  • Generalized pain in the pelvis and abdomen
  • Moderate to severe blindness

Should my puppy’s food contain carnitine?

A nutrient-rich diet can encourage rapid growth and put stress on your puppy’s bone structure. However, carnitine has been found to help dogs that are at risk for developing DCM. If your puppy is at risk for developing DCM, consult your vet about carnitine in their diet.

How is carnitine beneficial for my dog?

Carnitine is responsible for maintaining your dog’s energy levels. Its main role is the synthesis of energy so if your pet has low levels of carnitine, they will feel weak. Additionally, L-carnitine is also included in dog food to help maintain a healthy weight.

Should my senior dog’s food contain taurine?

Taurine production slows down with age so taurine in your senior dog’s food is actually beneficial. Formulas made for seniors usually contain nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and taurine to ensure your aging pet stays healthy and strong.

What are the symptoms of a carnitine deficiency?

Not having enough Carnitine can be very harmful for your dog. Most dogs get plenty of carnitine from the meat in their dog food. However, most meats only contain a small amount so that supplementation may be necessary for some animals.

Should my adult dog’s food contain carnitine?

If your dog is particularly active, it can benefit from added carnitine. Carnitine is responsible for the synthesis of energy so it can provide your pet with energy to support their active lifestyle. Carnitine also removes toxic waste from cells, so it can increase immunity.

When should I start giving my dog taurine supplements?

The first step is getting your pet’s bloodwork done. If your pet shows signs of low energy or shallow rapid breathing, visit the doctor immediately in that case. The next step is following the recommended dosage.

Should my senior dog’s food contain carnitine?

Senior dogs, especially those struggling with maintaining a healthy weight, can benefit from carnitine in their diet. Carnitine can boost your senior pet’s energy levels and aid them in maintaining a healthy weight. Your senior dog will be healthy and strong with the addition of carnitine into his diet.

Is a raw diet richer in taurine and carnitine?

Most dog foods offer a diet richer in carbohydrates rather than protein. That’s why many pet parents prefer a raw diet over processed foods. It’s closer to a dog’s ancestral diet with proteins being a suitable source rich in all kinds of amino acids.

Can my dog have too much taurine?

Although studies on the subject are limited, the chances of your dog overdosing on taurine are low. Even taurine taken in amounts above the daily recommended doses is well tolerated. If you suspect any adverse reactions due to an overdose, contact your vet or an emergency facility.

When should I start giving my dog carnitine supplements

If your dog has any genetic history of DCM, you should consult a vet about the issue. Your vet can run your dog’s bloodwork to check for any deficiencies. If your dog has symptoms of a carnitine deficiency, you can give them supplements after consulting your vet.

Can my dog have too much carnitine?

As with taurine, it is highly unlikely for your pet to overdose on carnitine. Even L-carnitine taken in high doses can safely be excreted by the body. You should take your pet to your veterinarian if they have any adverse reaction or your suspect an overdose.

Are there any side-effects of giving my pet taurine supplements?

Dogs appear to have a high tolerance for taurine. You can either give the supplements as is, or mix them with your dog’s food. After the first dose, your pet can experience minor vomiting. Taurine supplements usually stop working after 24 hours but the effects can last longer in pets who have liver or kidney disease.