"Why is L-Carnitine Good for Dogs?
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"Why is L-Carnitine Good for Dogs?

Dogs
Health & Safety

It’s no secret that dogs need as many complex nutrients and vitamins as humans. It may look as though our canine companions have stomachs of steel, unthinkingly munching upon anything in their path.

The reality is however, these animals may need our help to ensure they get everything they need into their little bodies. One example of this is L-Carnitine, an amino acid used by humans to speed up their metabolism. Does this mean that L-Carnitine is good for dogs? Let’s find out!

What is L-Carnitine?

As discussed above, L-Carnitine is an amino acid that speeds up the human metabolism. It occurs naturally in the human body and turns fat into energy. This is a great way of keeping us active and mobile, and maybe even losing some weight in the process!

L-Carnitine is deemed to be conditionally essential, meaning that while it benefits the body hugely, it is not always produced organically. If you follow a vegan diet, for example, you may struggle to generate L-Carnitine as it’s found in most animal products. Thankfully this will not be a problem for your dog!

Do Dogs Generate L-Carnitine Naturally?

Like humans, dogs produce a small amount of L-Carnitine naturally and organically within their body. However, these are just building blocks; your hound will benefit from a great deal more by munching down on protein-rich foods, such as meat.

Therefore, it is so important that you feed your dog a high-quality diet that contains plenty of animal products. It’s not just a taste preference for carnivorous canines; they literally need to enjoy such foods to stay healthy.

What are the Symptoms of L-Carnitine Deficiency in Dogs?

If your dog is lacking in L-Carnitine, the symptoms will make themselves known. These can include:

  • Lethargy and a general lack of interest in favourite activities.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Weakness in the hind legs.
  • Aches and pains in the muscles.
  • Confusion and disorientation, such as becoming uncharacteristically clumsy or staring at a blank wall for hours.

If your dog displays any of these behaviours, you should get them to a vet as quickly as possible. The root cause may be a lack of L-Carnitine in their body and diet, or it may be something more serious. Whatever the root cause, an animal healthcare professional will be able to get your dog the help they need!

Why is L-Carnitine Good for Dogs?

There are several reasons why dogs may benefit from introducing a little more L-Carnitine into their diet, but the most prominent is heart health. L-Carnitine can prevent the heart from becoming oversized and unable to pump blood around the body. This condition, known as dilated cardiomyopathy, can be common in several different breeds of canine.

L-Carnitine speeds up the metabolism, and potentially aid weight loss, in humans, which also translates to dogs. It will help your pet to maintain a healthy weight, and thus reduce their risk of heart disease and canine diabetes.

Finally, L-Carnitine helps build and solidify both body and mind in dogs. It has been shown to slow down any onset of cognitive decline, and it helps a dog’s limbs and joints stay supple and healthy. Perfect for busy working dogs!

Does Standard Dog Food Contain L-Carnitine?

As L-Carnitine is found in animal products, it should be plentiful in dog food. As always, however, the higher quality the food, the more L-Carnitine will be found.

Dog food manufacturers must be transparent about the ingredients of their products, so be vigilant about studying them when making a choice in the pet shop. The more pure and organic meat produce in the food, the better it will be for your dog.

If you have any doubts or questions, don’t hesitate to consult a vet or a staff member of a pet shop. Remember, the people that work in such establishments are invariably pet parents themselves, and they frequently undergo lengthy training programmes surrounding animal nutrition.

How to Get L-Carnitine into a Dog’s Diet

Other than changing a food source, you may also want to consider adding an L-Carnitine supplement to your dog’s diet. There is a vast range of such over the counter products available from any reputable pet shop.

Before starting a course of supplements, however, speak to your vet and ensure that they are safe for your dog – and even that they are necessary.

Are There Any Dangers to L-Carnitine for Dogs?

Not really. This is a hugely beneficial boost to any dog’s health, and there are not really any downsides to your pooch getting plenty of it. There are certainly no health or behavioural side effects associated with L-Carnitine in animals.

The only note of caution should be sounded if your dog has an underactive thyroid and is already receiving medication for this. As L-Carnitine provides a spark to the thyroid gland, pairing a supplement with vet-prescribed medicine may be overkill.

If your dog is on hypothyroid medication, consult a vet before adding any L-Carnitine supplements to their diet. Your vet may advise that it’s a good idea and reduce the medical prescription accordingly, or tell you steer clear and leave your dog’s treatment in the hands of Big Pharma. Either way, it’s best to get the advice of a professional before making any decisions.

Do Other Household Pets Need L-Carnitine?

Yes, cats will also benefit from additional L-Carnitine in their lives – for all the same reasons as their canine chums! Keep an eye on the ingredients of any food that you feed your cats, always aiming for something rich in L-Carnitine.

As with dogs, you should always consult a vet if you are concerned about your cat’s L-Carnitine levels. They may be able to recommend a supplement, write you a prescription – or even just recommend a new commercially available food!

L-Carnitine is not a cure-all for anything that ails your dog, but it’s certainly a great way to help your pooch avoid some potential pitfalls with their health. Be vigilant about spotting any warning signs of L-Carnitine deficiency and consult your options with a vet about how to ensure that your dog is getting plenty of it.

Prevention is always better than cure, and by ensuring that your pet is enjoying enough L-Carnitine you greatly enhance your chances of a long and happy life together!

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