Even healthy dogs can develop cardiac problems at any time during their lives, but what are the causes of heart disease in dogs?
There has been a study that shows that about 30% of all dogs develop heart disease over the age of seven with some dog breeds are more prone to heart disease than others.
Sometimes the causes of heart disease in dogs is inherent from birth. This is due to the fact that certain breeds develop structural defects at an earlier age than others.
However, most of the time the causes of heart disease in dogs are not at birth, but are acquired.
What Is Heart Disease and What Are The Causes Of Heart Disease In Dogs?
The technical term for Heart disease is Cardiomyopathy. There are two main types of cardiomyopathy.
One is that a dog’s mitral valve in the heart will begin to fail to close properly.
And the second type is that the walls surrounding the dog’s heart start to become thin and eventually weaken.
Either of these conditions will create an enlarged heart and eventually will make the dog’s heart fail.
Your vet can prescribe heart meds that will help maintain the heart valve, but only for a short time (from a few months to a year or more). However, eventually, their heart will fail.
I had a dachshund about 20 years ago that died of heart disease as her heart eventually failed.
She lived to be 14, which is fairly old for a dachshund but had it not been for the heart disease, I believe she would have lived quite a few years longer.
8 Helpful Steps To Prevent Heart Disease In Dogs
1. Visceral Fat An excessive amount of abdominal fat in dogs, also known as fatty tissue, is one of the most common congenital defects in dogs.
It commonly develops in dogs as a result of genetic coding where the body has an increased need for triglycerides (fatty substances) as opposed to other body proteins. This increased fat deposition in dogs is normally accompanied by insulin resistance.
Treatment for heart disease in dogs with visceral fat accumulation can include a decrease in diet that has a detrimental effect on insulin production.
2. Hypertension is another problem seen in hyperlipidemic dogs. Since hypertension is a condition where there is increased blood pressure in the body, dogs that have excessive abdominal fat tissue have high blood pressure levels.
3. Another issue is Relative Waist Circumference.
One of the many congenital defects in heart disease dogs is the relative waist circumference (or WHS). WHS is measured by the length between the ribs.
Overweight dogs have a greater tendency to have a greater relative waist circumference.
Treatment for heart disease in dogs with increased WHS includes diet changes that decrease dietary fatty acids and increase exercise.
The objective is to reduce the overall body fat percentage of the dog.
There are several ways to accomplish this including a diet that is high in protein and fiber and low in fat, sugar, and salt.
4. Too much sodium is especially a contributor to heart disease.
Keeping your dog’s diet low in sodium helps decrease fluid retention, which is vital for maintaining a healthy heart.
Make sure you read the labels on commercial dog foods as many of them are high in sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients. Check out some of the recommended dog foods.
You can feed your dog chicken without the skin. And be sure to not add any salt or seasoning. You can also give your dog plenty of fresh greens along with some brown rice, and whole grain rice.
5. It is recommended to have your dog drink distilled water instead of tap water as that contains chemicals like fluoride, which isn’t healthy for your dog’s heart.
6. Two health supplements you can give your dog are L-Carnitine And Taurine.
These are good amino acids that are healthy for your dog’s heart.
7. In addition, fish oil and virgin olive oil have been beneficial in helping to prevent heart disease in dogs.
These changes in your dog’s diet along with exercise can help treatment for heart disease in dogs.
8. Exercise can improve overall obesity by increasing energy requirements and reducing the need for food.
Diets that are high in fat but low in fiber are believed to cause increased abdominal adipose tissue, while diets that are high in fiber but low in fat cause increased muscle mass.
Increasing muscle mass and reducing abdominal fat can help prevent heart disease.
A protein source that dogs are hardwired to need is collagen. Dogs will usually eat more of this amino acid if it’s added to a human diet.
This is because dogs metabolize protein better when they’re fed it than when they’re fed animal sources.
In the current study on heart disease in dogs with increased abdominal obesity, the effects of a dietary change were greater for diabetic dogs.
Diabetic dogs had significantly lower triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and lower total body weight. There was a significant effect of dietary change on insulin levels in diabetic dogs. All of these changes were significant at every level of treatment.
The final report looked at the effect of a change in diet on body condition scores.
A body condition score is a calculation that gives your dog an overall health assessment.
It then factors in body fat, triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
The proper diet along with exercise will prevent them from becoming obese as that is important in helping to prevent heart disease in dogs.