Tips for Benefiting Heart Health for Dogs

on July 28, 2022

Heart Health for Dogs

A healthy heart can mean a long and healthy life for our beloved fur balls. Fortunately, there are just a few, super simple, things we can do to help keep our dogs’ hearts healthy for many years to come.

In this article we will take a quick look at dog heart health, including common risk factors and how to avoid them.

What is Dog Heart Disease?

Humans and dogs actually get heart disease at about the same rates! However, heart disease doesn’t have the same risk factors across species. An estimated 7.8 million dogs have heart disease in the US, which means about 10% of all dogs.

Heart disease affects all breeds and dogs of all ages. It can either be congenital (meaning present since birth) or acquired (meaning develops over time). Heart disease means any condition which affects a dog’s heart or blood vessels and interferes with normal function. 

Only a veterinarian can diagnose heart disease in dogs.

What are the Signs of Dog Heart Disease?

How can you tell if your dog has heart disease?

Unfortunately, heart disease doesn’t always have symptoms. So, at your regularly scheduled vet appointments, your doggy doctor will examine your dog’s breathing, chest, heart and listen with a stethoscope, just like human doctor’s do for us. They might also check blood pressure, take a blood sample, and/or take chest x-rays, depending on your dog’s needs.

However, some signs or symptoms you observe at home might indicate a need for a veterinary examination, such as: 

  • Dry cough after physical activity (often worse at night)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid, elevated breathing
  • Restlessness when sleeping 
  • Rapid tiring or fatigue, even with normal activity (such as decreased stamina with walking)
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Fainting, which might even look like a seizure
  • A potbelly which is hard, caused by fluid build up (not fat), called distended abdomen

If you see any change in behavior or any of the above symptoms, you should have your dog examined by a vet.

Heart Disease Risk Factors in Dogs

In humans, the biggest heart disease risk factors are smoking and obesity. Fortunately, outside of whimsical art, dogs don’t usually smoke! 

For dogs, heart disease risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Heartworms
  • Breed and size (small dogs over age 5 are the most likely to develop heart problems)

One can help prevent the risk of heart disease through lifestyle factors and supplements.

Heart Health for Dogs: Lifestyle Factors

A healthy lifestyle contributes to a longer life. 

Dogs need regular exercise for their physical and mental health. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight for our pets. Cardiovascular health requires some good doggy cardio workouts, just like how humans benefit from cardio workouts! So yes, those regular walks are super important, but don’t forget to include some running or jumping for your dog. One caveat: age. Young puppies with developing joints shouldn’t over-exert themselves until they’ve matured. Older dogs should also stick to more joint-friendly exercises, like swimming.

But for those crucial years in the middle, go ahead and get some great cardiovascular work in for your dog: running, ball chasing, frisbee catching, you name it!

Diet also plays an important role in heart health. 

Beware of extreme diets which may be harmful to pets. For example, the FDA published a warning about “grain free” diets and dogs. Opt for a high-quality dog food and look for:

  • High protein, without being grain-free.
  • Ingredients you can pronounce.
  • True quantities. Beware of “ingredient splitting,” where items get split into different parts to disguise quantity
  • Price does not equal quality, but cheap commercial dog foods are often nutritionally inadequate. 

Beyond just quality food, you can provide supplements in your dog’s diet, with heart-healthy benefits.

Pet Wellness Products: Supplements

Not all supplements are created equal. So pay attention to ingredients. You can also supplement your dog’s diet with regular foods like:

  • Good, fatty, deboned fish (salmon, sardines, etc)
  • Berries, watermelon or tomato bits, which all contain antioxidants
  • Whole grains like whole oats and brown rice
  • Organ meats (take sanitary precautions before serving your dog raw meat)
  • Good fat supplements containing omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs)

When giving your dog any food or supplement, though, make sure the food is dog safe, with any supplements being formulated just for dogs. Some foods may be harmful to dogs (like garlic, onions, avocados or chocolate). Some “normal” supplement ingredients, like xylitol, are also toxic to dogs.

Hemp: The Dog Heart Health Super Supplement

Hemp contains healthy omegas for dog heart health. Hemp-derived CBD products may also offer heart health benefits.

For the best in dog health, check out the Wellness section of the Bad Dog CBD online shop. We’ve got what your pup needs for a long, happy life!

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