Canine Carnitine Deficiency in Older Dogs

What is Dog Carnitine Deficiency?

Dog carnitine deficiency simply means the lack of L-carnitine in a dog. L-carnitine is a type of protein, specifically an amino acid that plays an important role in the body. It is responsible for “burning” fat by bringing long chains of fatty acids to the mitochondria of each cell where energy is then created. Essentially, L-carnitine helps in transporting fatty acids throughout the body. These fatty acids then aid in producing energy, which allows dogs to run, play, and do their everyday activities.

It is important to note that the heart and skeletal muscles are unable to produce this nutrient, which means that it has to be transported to these areas. L-carnitine is also one way to address heart problems in a dog. L-carnitine supplements would help the dog gain enough L-carnitine to help solve heart disease. Usually, it is dilated cardiomyopathy that is being treated with L-carnitine supplements. However, what if the dog lacks L-carnitine in the first place? With this in mind, one can imagine what effects dog carnitine deficiency can have on a canine.

Without any L-carnitine, or lack thereof, the dog’s heart and skeletal muscles are severely affected. The symptoms of dog carnitine deficiency are weakness or lethargy, inability to exercise, an enlarged heart, pain in the muscles, and eventually, heart muscle failure. Veterinarians and other doctors have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of dog carnitine deficiency, but they were able to determine the dog breeds that are highly susceptible to getting this deficiency.

Breeds that are at risk of carntine deficiency

Most large dog breeds like Boxers and Great Danes are at a huge risk of getting dog carnitine deficiency. The usual course of action taken by veterinarians is through a heart muscle biopsy. This medical procedure would help the veterinarian know the current level of L-carnitine present in the dog’s body. From there, proper dosages of L-carnitine supplement may be prescribed to solve the dog carnitine deficiency present. However, the application of L-carnitine supplements does not assure dog owners that their dog is free from the deficiency.

These supplements only help in providing enough L-carnitine in the dog’s body. These supplements are over-the-counter medicines, but dog owners should take care in choosing the right supplement for their dog. The available L-carnitine supplements on the market differ in quality and of course, the manufacturer. Some even come with added supplements such as taurine. If possible, they should seek out the advice of their veterinarian or better yet, stick to the prescription given to them by the veterinarian.

Effects of L-Carnitine in diet

Diarrhea is one possible side effect of introducing L-carnitine into a dog’s diet. One way for the veterinarian to check the progress of the medication/treatment is by conducting an echocardiogram. This can be done every 3 to 6 months.

Dog owners should thus set a healthy lifestyle for their dogs, especially if they have breeds that are highly susceptible to dog carnitine deficiency. It is also handy to know the different symptoms of the deficiency, so that they can immediately bring their dog to the veterinarian for immediate treatment.