Taurine testing caseload has risen sharply at WVDL in recent months due to some important findings from several veterinary cardiologists about Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) associated with grain-free boutique dog food diets. Other ongoing research by Dr. Joshua Stern at UC-Davis also is looking into DCM specifically with Golden Retrievers. There are two laboratories in the United States that performs taurine, an amino acid, testing: the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison, WI and the University of California-Davis Amino Acid Laboratory in Davis, CA. The WVDL is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) and is a Level 1 National Animal Health Laboratory Network facility.
In the past few weeks, we have had several questions as to why WVDL results are not the same as a result from UC-Davis. As part of our robust quality system, when we get inquiries about testing we always perform a thorough investigation to ensure our test results are reliable and accurate. Here is what we found:
- All of our testing has been completed within the quality and control specifications of the assay.
- Plasma (non-hemolyzed) samples, sent on ice, is our preferred sample type. With the recent research findings, we have seen a significant increase in sample rejection due to hemolyzed samples or clotted whole blood.
- WVDL and UC-Davis run different accepted test methodologies. WVDL uses High Pressure Liquid Chromatography with Mass Spectometry while UC-Davis uses a Beckman 6300 Amino Acid analyzer. The test results are likely not going to be exactly the same simply due to the fact that they are run in different laboratories, by different experienced chemists on different equipment.
- WVDL has added some specific sample handling steps so that our test results are as close to our partner laboratory as possible. We are also increasing our selectivity to reject samples due to poor quality.
There are several sources for interpretation of taurine results and how to intervene with supplementation or diet change for animals with low taurine levels. It is critically important to consult a veterinarian or board-certified veterinary cardiologist and/or veterinary nutritionist to assist in all nutrition decisions for any pet. DO NOT rely on website blogs or social media posts as they often contain unfounded opinions, rumors, and emotion in place of scientific evidence and fact.
This is a recent post from the Clinical Nutrition Service at the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University: http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/06/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-free-diets-and-exotic-ingredients/
Here is another recent post from UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/news/uc-davis-investigates-link-between-dog-diets-and-deadly-heart-disease