Most all dog owners will swear their pup has a huge heart but of course they mean only metaphorically. This is hugely important because dogs can suffer an array of heart conditions. Generally described as affectionate and loving creatures, it is vital to take care of a dog’s heart to keep him/her healthy and happy.
Different heart problems that can affect canines include congestive heart failure (CHF), heart disease in dogs, and hypertension. These issues are a concern in aging dogs but can also develop at any time in a dog’s life. Although certain breeds are more likely to be affected, any breed of dog can develop a heart problem in their lifetime.
There are various ways of ensuring a healthy heart for your four-legged friend. However, before making any changes in your dog’s lifestyle or diet, it is fundamental that you consult with your vet. Take a look at these major factors that determine canine heart health and prepare to talk to a specialist if you’re worried about anything.
Nutrition is extremely important for your dog. A balanced diet is necessary to develop a healthy, strong heart and ensure a long life. Dogs with a poor diet will suffer the consequences.
Firstly, it is vital to purchase high-quality dog food that includes the right nutrients and minerals that are essential for the growth of a fit functional heart. Many low-cost options will not include the required vitamins for your dog to develop a strong heart muscle. It is better to invest in premium dog food from the beginning to save on possible consequences later on.
Do not overdo it with treats. If your dog is in training, use the specially designed training treats. These are small and do not take away from their normal eating regime.
Finally, if you think your dog could be overweight, they could be at a higher risk of developing a heart problem. It would be advantageous to speak to a vet about establishing a diet plan to reduce their size.
Exercise is indispensable in your pet’s life. Dogs need daily activity that helps maintain a healthy weight and bodily functioning. Generally dogs love to take part in frequent cardio exercises, such as running, walking, hiking, swimming, and even agility training. These types of activities help your dog to maintain a healthy heart.
Additionally, it is vital that you schedule regular check-ups at the vet with your furry friend. Dogs age faster than humans and that includes their heart. This is why it is paramount to take your pet to the vet’s clinic at least twice a year. This way the vet can make sure that s/he is in optimum fitness.
Prevention and Care
It may seem odd to mention dental care when talking about heart health, but it is much more important than you might think. Dental infections and plaque can enter the bloodstream from the mouth and make their way to the heart, causing more debilitating illnesses. Actively check out your dog’s teeth and gums from time to time. Keep an eye out for anything unusual, such as bleeding, bad breath, or excess drooling.
Heartworm is a very serious disease spread through mosquito bites. It is very important to use vet-approved products to prevent infection because this disease can have dire consequences. Heartworm can lead to inflammation, restricted blood flow, pulmonary embolism, lung disease, and ultimately heart failure.
Watch Out for Symptoms
There are several symptoms that dog-owners should be aware of to look out for heart problems. There are some breeds that are predisposed to having heart disease and others who may be more likely to develop one type or another. It is important to research the breed of your pet to stay informed on any heart issues they might have.
The following is a list of common symptoms of heart problems in dogs:
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Swollen abdomen
- Lack of appetite or ability to exercise
Early detection of heart problems is ideal, so it’s important to look out for these signs in your dog. If your dog is suffering from any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet straight away. In order to find out what is going on with your dog’s heart, the vet will run certain tests. These tests can include a physical exam to listen to the heart and lungs or an ultrasound or x-ray to physically see the heart muscle. They could also check their blood pressure check or do an EKG to discover any arrhythmias. Finally, they may do blood or urine analysis to find out what levels of chemicals are in their system that could be negatively affecting heart function.