Our NEW Healthy Heart recipe is designed to support your dog’s heart muscle function to help them thrive.
Sara, our Nutritionist and Christian, the Vet, have given Healthy Heart the seal of approval based on what’s best for your dog’s health.
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 is an organ responsible for a number of vital functions, including:
- Transporting oxygen and nutrients to other organs and body systems.
- 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
- Transportation of hormones and enzymes from one organ to another.
- 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. 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 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)
“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
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.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY DOG’S HEART?
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
To learn more about Butcher’s NEW Healthy Heart recipe click here.