How Dog Owners Keep their Canine’s Heart Healthy
Does your dog bark for bacon at breakfast time? What about a good game of fetch? Your canine has a hearty appetite and is always up for playtime so obviously he’s healthy and you don’t have to worry about heart issues, right or wrong?
Ten percent of all dogs in the USA or about 8 million canines already suffer from cardiac disease. Unfortunately, this “silent killer” often goes unnoticed until the heart disease becomes advanced. 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 people, regular exercise and vet check-ups are a must—and a wholesome, fresh diet can be particularly helpful with prevention. Here are a few of the heart healthiest ingredients for canines:
Protein: Quality versus Quantity
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.
Salt and Sodium
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 a maximum amount of 200 mg daily. Note that dogs with heart disease should not consume more than 100 mg of sodium chloride or salt daily. Keeping sodium levels consistent helps to avoid spikes which can also affect blood pressure.
Oil and Omega’s
Omega-3 fish oils are essential for an all-around heart-healthy diet for dogs. 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—omega-3 supplements are also an option.
Amino Acids and Taurine
Supplementing your dog’s diet with the amino acid taurine, maintains normal cardiac function regardless of whether a heart issue is present. 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.
Body Weight: Lean versus Pudgy
Keeping your dog at a healthy lean body weight is important for good health and even more important for canines with heart issues. Portion control is essential, and that means avoid free feeding. Feed your dog 2-3 balanced meals each day made of wholesome, fresh nutrients.
Exercise versus Couch Potatoes:
Daily exercise at least 20-30 minutes twice a day is essential not only for good health but also for healthy canine hearts. Exercise routines should be geared according to your dog’s level of health and fitness. Don’t jump off the sofa one day and take your pooch for a 20 mile hike the next. People and pets need to increase their exercise levels gradually, a little each day.
Dr. Carol Osborne is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty-plus years. After graduating from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carol completed a prestigious internship at the Columbus Zoo. Shortly afterward, she launched a very successful private practice and became the founder and director of the non-profit organization, the American Pet Institute. Dr. Carol offers traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats with a softer, natural touch. Her approach highlights the importance of nutrition and utilizing holistic avenues in combination with traditional treatments. Currently, she offers holistic therapies and traditional veterinary medical care for dogs and cats at the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.