Heart healthy Dog Foods. Your dog doesn’t eat bacon for breakfast, and he’ll never turn down a game of fetch, so surely, he’s not at risk for heart disease, right? Nearly 8 million dogs in the United States already have heart disease (that’s 10 percent of all pups). Canine heart problems can be congenital, where the defect has been present since birth and exacerbated by age, injury, or diet, or acquired because of diet or disease. As with humans, regular exercise and vet check-ups are essential to staying healthy—and a nutritious diet can be particularly helpful with prevention. Here are some of the heart-healthiest ingredients for pups:
Restricting protein used to be advised for dogs facing heart problems, but now we know that it could lead to decreased muscle mass, which can potentially be fatal. Protein is essential for keeping dogs’ hearts healthy because it strengthens the muscle. Their diet should consist of at least 25 to 30 percent high-quality, lean protein such as chicken and salmon, according to Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM, an integrative veterinarian from Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Ohio.
Just as with humans, excess dietary salt is never a plus, especially if your canine is at risk for cardiac issues. Even if your pup shows no signs, it’s best to keep them on a low-sodium diet with less than 100 mg daily, Dr. Osborne says. Keeping sodium levels consistent helps to avoid spikes which can also affect blood pressure.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fish oils are essential for an all-around heart-healthy diet for dogs, Dr. Osborne says. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and protect against abnormal heart rhythms. In one study of dogs with heart disease, survival rates improved with omega-3 supplements. Natural sources include cod liver oil (which can be found in some fresh, natural food), sardines, and salmon—or you can use supplements.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with the amino acid taurine maintains normal cardiac function regardless of whether a heart issue is present, according to Dr. Osborne. Without adequate levels of Taurine, canine heart disease is a risk — and certain breeds such as Portuguese Water Dogs and Golden Retrievers are more prone to a deficiency. Taurine can be naturally found in cooked lamb or raw beef liver, or dogs can take it as a supplement.
Keeping your pup at a healthy weight is important for good health and even more important with heart issues. “Portion control is essential, and that means avoid free feeding,” Dr. Osborne says. Feed your dog 2-3 balanced meals each day made of wholesome, fres