THE EXPERTS’ ADVICE: HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR DOG’S HEART HEALTH

You’ll have heard that we’ve been busy refreshing our Natural Health Support Range. That’s Simply Gentle, Lean & Tasty and Joints & Coat. Not forgetting our brand-new recipe, Healthy Heart, designed to support your dog’s heart muscle function to help them thrive.

Sara, our Nutritionist, has refreshed each recipe to address a specific health issue, and Christian, the Vet, has given them the seal of approval based on what’s best for your dog’s health.

We sat down with them both to get a better understanding of some of the common health conditions that affect our dogs and the key benefits of our newly refreshed Natural Health Support Range.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at the signs and symptoms of heart disease, as well as how best to look after your dog’s heart health.

The Heart

 To understand more about heart disease, let’s first take a look at what the heart does:

“The heart is an organ responsible for a number of vital functions, including:

1. Transporting oxygen and nutrients to other organs and body systems.
2. Helping to take carbon dioxide and other metabolic waste (substances left over from essential metabolic processes needed to sustain life, which cannot be used by your dog) to excretory organs such as the kidneys, bladder, liver
and lungs.
3. Transportation of hormones and enzymes from one organ to another.
4. Thermoregulation – the maintenance or regulation of ideal core body temperature.”

Sara, our Nutritionist

What is Heart Failure and Heart Disease?

‘Heart disease’ is a catch-all term for several conditions that can affect your dog’s heart health. It’s relatively common, with an estimated 10% of dogs* thought to be affected.

Some of the most common types of heart disease include:

  • Mitral Malve Disease (MVD) – a problem with the heart valves.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) – a weakness in the heart muscle that causes the heart to become enlarged and unable to pump blood effectively.
  • Arrhythmias – an abnormal heartbeat rhythm that can cause fainting.
  • Congenital heart disease – present from birth and considered rare.

When the normal function of the heart is impaired, the heart begins to undergo a state of imbalance, eventually resulting in congestive heart failure (CHF). This means that the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body. Although there are many causes of CHF, MVD and DCM are two of the most common causes in dogs.

How do dogs develop Heart Disease?

The majority of heart disease is caused through general wear and tear or stresses on the heart and hereditary (genetic) factors. However, injury and infection can cause issues as well.

Older dogs can experience heart disease purely because of their age, but there are many external factors that can contribute too, such as obesity and poor nutrition. This is why a 100% complete and balanced diet is essential to support overall health and wellbeing including your dog’s heart health.

Certain breeds are also more prone to developing heart disease. 4 of the top 10 UK dog breeds – Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds and Chihuahuas – are genetically susceptible to heart issues.

“The most common heart problems we see in dogs are leaking heart valves, generally as a result of old age (but can be caused by genetic factors in some breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels), and also cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart) which is usually genetic, such as in Dobermanns.”

Christian, the Vet

How can I spot a problem with my dog’s heart?

These are the most common signs of heart disease in dogs:

  • A persistent, dry cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting (that can also look like a seizure)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Restlessness while sleeping
  • Behaviour changes (reluctance to play)

As a rule of thumb, your dog should have nice pink gums, unless they are heavily pigmented as they are for certain breeds such as Chow Chows.

There are several tests your vet can perform to confirm if your dog does have a heart problem. From electrocardiograms and echocardiograms to blood tests and chest X-rays, these are all useful in assessing heart health and detecting heart disease.

As ever, if you are concerned about your dog, take them to the vet as soon as possible. As Christian says: “There are very good treatments that can add years to a dog’s life in some cases.”

“Most dogs with heart problems start to slow down on walks or get breathless and have to sit down frequently. They may cough, especially in the morning, and their breathing rate will increase as the heart becomes worse. If you count the number of breaths they take over a minute whilst they are calm and relaxed, it should be no more than 30.”

Christian, the Vet

Two Dachshunds with butcher's Healthy Heart dog food products

What can I do to help my dog’s heart health?

While there is no single or sure fire way to prevent heart disease and ultimately heart failure, there are many simple things you can do to help your dog’s heart health and ensure they thrive.

Frequent cardiac exercise – like running, walking, swimming or playing ball – is a great form of exercise that also benefits your dog’s mental wellbeing. Similarly, going to the vets regularly and preventing things like lungworm and dental problems that can cause stress on the heart.

Making sure your dog is at a healthy weight is also key, as is a nutritious, 100% complete and balanced diet. This will not only help with maintaining a healthy weight but also ensures they get all the nutrients they need.

 

“Feeding your dog a good diet with added L-carnitine, taurine, omega-3 and 6 essential fatty acids and antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E can all help towards maintaining a healthy heart.”

Christian, the Vet

happy labrador and Butcher's dog food products healthy heart

Healthy Heart Recipes

If your dog is of a breed that’s prone to heart disease, it’s particularly important to remain aware and vigilant around the signs and symptoms. Like with any disorder, the earlier it’s caught, the better the treatment success.

Our Healthy Heart recipes have been specially created by Sara and come vet recommended by Christian. Designed to support heart muscle function to help your dog thrive, they contain naturally active and beneficial ingredients.

Find out more about these 100% complete and balanced, grain free recipes here.

*Please see source here.

Developed by Nutritionists, Vet Recommended: Sara, our Nutritionist, and Christian, the Vet

Meet The Experts 

Sara, our Nutritionist, has 13 years’ experience as a Pet Nutritionist and a degree in Animal Science. Not to mention, she’s a proud pet parent to Mae the Cocker Spaniel.

Christian has been a Vet for over 30 years and has worked alongside the RSPCA and Police. He’s, of course, a fellow dog lover; his four-legged friend is a Labrador named Willow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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