The thought of heart disease in dogs is one of our sadder blog topics to post about, but when there are warning signs to look out for, it’s good to talk about heart health and our dogs.
We have to say this upfront – this blog is for advice only. If your dog is showing any symptoms you’re worried about, or you’re unsure in any way, please talk to a professional. Take your dog to the vets – they will know you and your dog best.
Our vets tell us that when it comes to heart health, early diagnosis is key. Most treatments are about managing heart conditions to keep the dog as healthy – and as happy – as possible, so they get to enjoy the best quality of life for as long as possible.
Is heart disease in dogs common?
Heart failure in dogs (another word for heart disease) can be quite common, especially when they get older. But did you know certain breeds are prone to specific cardiac conditions than others?
What dogs get heart disease?
Heart problems can affect any breed of dog, but some breeds get certain types of heart disease. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is susceptible to heart valve problems, for example. Boxers can develop heart vessel issues, and the Doberman Pinscher can suffer from dilated or enlarged hearts.
Other breeds prone to developing heart conditions include:
- Golden Retriever
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Cocker Spaniel
What are the symptoms?
In the early stages of heart disease, symptoms can be quite subtle. As a dog owner, you might just notice your dog slowing down, or getting more out of breath during exercise.
Other signs include: excessive panting, laboured breathing (especially when at rest), loss of body condition (weight loss that shows up the ribs), changes in thirst, a swollen abdomen, or coughing.
Sometimes you might see a change in the colour of your dog’s gums and lips – they might be paler than usual, or go darker red. Dogs with advanced heart disease will often have breathing difficulties at the same time. At this point you might notice gums are blue-ish in colour – this is due to a lack of oxygen in the blood.
Eating for heart health
It’s not all bad news, we promise. Like humans, having a healthy diet can really help dogs with heart failure. Knowing exactly what goes into your dog’s food is the first step in the right direction – and the right diet can help with heart disease in dogs in several ways.
Say no to salt
First up, watch the salt. Human food can have excess levels of sodium – so be careful about what you give them. Dogs need salt in their diet, but may need special reduced sodium diets if they have heart problems.
We’ve got to talk about weight control. Overweight pets will have more pressure on their hearts to pump blood around the body, so trying to get your dog back to a healthy body condition is crucial.
Supplements can help
Some dogs with cardiac disease can benefit from a diet supplemented with taurine and L-carnitine.
Take a bigger view
At tails.com, we can tailor food to dogs with heart disease, just get in touch with us to speak to our nutrition team so we can make sure we’re looking after them with every single bite.