By Guardian Angel Laurie and Teddy Roo

If your dog has seizures that are difficult to control, you may want try the amino acid Taurine. As with any supplement you consider trying for your dog, please do not do so without first discussing it with your vet. You may want to print this and give it to your vet with a note that you would like to discuss this supplement for your dog on your next visit.

Everything I've read indicates Taurine is considered very safe for use in dogs. It is not effective for reducing seizures for all dogs, but it is safe.

Caroline Levin's Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Living With and Without Seizures (2002) has a very short statement:

Taurine is considered to be a long-lasting anticonvulsant, but which is excreted through the urine in times of stress. It acts by stabilizing nerve cell membranes. Dr. Roger Kendall (in Complimentary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine) recommends dosing dogs with 200 to 1,000 mg. per day. Magnesium taurinate supplies both taurine and magnesium ("plays a large role in raising the seizure threshold").

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), say:

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. bid.

We give Teddy, who weighs 25 pounds, 500 mg. once a day, in capsule form. We use "Solgar" brand, and I open the capsule on his food (not required). Teddy has been on Taurine for over a year. We never increased Teddy's dose since this dose alone seems to work great for him. I am convinced Taurine has contributed to Teddy's long seizure-free streak (over eleven months, currently). I noticed that once Teddy was on Taurine, he seemed much less susceptible to the stress of sudden noises. Teddy used to jerk violently--almost like a one-second seizure--sometimes at random when sleeping, and any time there was a noise, even for example as small a noise as the click when we closed the snap of his harness. I would have to muffle it inside my hands to protect him. Teddy very rarely jerks any more, and I believe the Taurine is responsible. Once when I ran out of it, I noticed Teddy's violent jerking increased. We got him back on Taurine, and it stopped.

Two things to look for when shopping for Taurine are (1) that it is a capsule, not a tablet, since tablets have binders that capsules don't, and (2) that it states that it does not contain any preservatives, and contains no other supplements but taurine.

Sources cited in Wynn and Marsden excerpt:

Wilson, 1996: Wilson CL, Maidment NT, Shomer MH, Behnke EJ, Ackerson L, Fried I, Engle J Jr. "Comparison of seiaure-related amino acid release in human epileptic hippocampus versus a chronic, kainate rat model of hippocampal epilepsy." in Epilepsy Res 26 (1): 245-254, 1996.

Saransaari, 2000: Saransaari P, Oja SS. "Taurine and neural cell damage." in Amino Acids 19 (3-4): 509-526, 2000.

Eppler, 1999: Eppler B, Patterson TA, Zhou W, Millard WJ, Dawson R Jr. "Kainic acid (KA)-induced seizures in Sprague-Dawley rats and the effect of dietary taurine (TAU) supplementation or deficiency." in Amino Acids 16 (2): 133-147, 1999.