Feeding a Dog for a Healthy Heart

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A healthy heart is (obviously) a precursor to a healthy body. As the engine that pumps the blood through the body, the heart needs to be in top working order to properly perform its job. Unlike the skeletal muscles (e.g. leg muscles), which can rest, the heart is always working, involuntarily, to keep a body alive.

 

How common is Heart Disease in Dogs?

In humans, heart disease is a common problem. According to the CDC, 11 % of US adults were diagnosed as having some form of heart disease. Yet heart disease is even more common in dogs than in people. According to WebMD, chronic valvular disease, one form of heart disease, occurs in 20-40% of all dogs by itself.

 

Even though many heart conditions are congenital, diet can play a role in supporting a healthy heart and reducing the risk of some types of heart disease. Some of the key nutrients (and common food sources) that are required for healthy heart function are provided below.

 

Key Nutrients for a Healthy Canine Heart

Vitamin A. Among other things, Vitamin A supports a healthy immune system. Deficiencies in Vitamin A can make a body susceptible to infection, and specifically, an increased risk of bacterial infection of the heart valves.

 

Foods high in Vitamin A that are commonly used in dog food recipes include carrots, sweet potatoes, and most dark, leafy green vegetables.

 

Vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant supports proper heart function. Diets that are deficient in Vitamin C can lead to physical weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rates, and rapid respiration, all of which can stress the heart. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to an increased risk of inflammation of the blood vessels and the heart.

Food for a healthy heart

Foods commonly found in dog food that are high in Vitamin C include berries, broccoli, and kale.

 

Vitamin E. Another powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E is a scavenger of free radicals and prevents free radical damage in cells. Vitamin E deficiency can lead to heart disease in the form of ventricular endocardial necrosis (death). A study by Freeman, Brown, and Rush reported that lower levels of Vitamin E in the blood were associated with greater severity of heart disease in dogs.

 

Foods that are often included in dog food recipes that are high in Vitamin E include leafy green and cruciferous vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli.

 

Taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that helps support heart function. Taurine is not an essential amino acid- essential meaning that the body cannot produce it internally and needs food to be the source of the amino acid. Yet, some dogs can become deficient in Taurine and in these cases, there is a linkage to heart disease, specifically to dilated cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart chambers enlarge and the walls of the ventricles become thin. The heart muscle weakens and begins to fail.

 

Taurine is present in fish and meats, which are the foundation of any healthy canine diet.

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19 Comments

  1. So important to have all the right nutrients in your dogs food to help with major organ function like the heart, thank you for sharing this with us.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Bundled Up~Monday MischiefMy Profile

  2. I hope my mom understood the message and she will buy me more fish… I love it… probably one of my 7 stomachs is more feline than canine :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MOANDAY MISCHIEFMy Profile

  3. Very interesting post for me – I just switched to a dehydrated food for the boys and they love it. It’s ingredients read like your post. #yippee Dark leafy veggies, meat, berries, sweet tators, yummy!

  4. I love fish and meat, but they have to disguise veggies if they want me to eat them!
    Clowie recently posted…TomorrowMy Profile

  5. We are happy that senior Katie has a good strong heart, that is what our vet tells us twice a year when she is in for her exams. We think it is partly genetic, partly from a good diet, and partly from lots of good healthy exercise over the years. We are amazed at how much she still enjoys walking and how far she wants to go, even at a slow pace. It is truly an ingrained healthy habit for her.
    Emma recently posted…Caring Is Sharing Your HerringMy Profile

  6. I lost my Lucy to heart disease and shudder to think how many years I would’ve lost if I hadn’t paid attention to her diet. Great post.
    Sue recently posted…Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats from @Chewy | Product ReviewMy Profile

  7. Fantastic post! This is something that I started to pay attention to a year into raw feeding. One I was able to get the basics down of making raw at home, I was able to then see the importance of balancing the meals and alternating proteins – this helps our dogs get the ingredients they need.

    One thing that I learned is that for cats, grinding food may require cat owners to add back in taurine, because some cats get an imbalanced on ground food. I have taurine powder on hand just in case our dogs have an imbalance in the future.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…XRays | Which Digests Faster, Kibble or RawMy Profile

  8. This is great information. Since we found out Cricket has a heart murmur I want to be sure we keep her heart as healthy as possible.
    Jan K recently posted…Tuesday’s Tails – Slinky Needs a HomeMy Profile

  9. I had no idea heart disease was even more common in dogs than people. I would have never guessed that. Great tips on diet changes we should all think about for our dogs.
    Elaine recently posted…Searching for the Best Dog Ball – One World Futbol ReviewMy Profile

  10. Wow, who knew the rate of heart disease in dogs would be so high? Thanks for sharing that valuable information. Good to know I’m putting the right ingredients in Sam’s handmade treats. 🙂
    Monika recently posted…Do Dogs Mourn?My Profile

  11. Valuable information here. Buddy was at the vet yesterday for his check up and she was pleased with his weight. I cut back on his kibble by 1/4 cup per day and he has lost 9 pounds now. He has a nice slim waist now!
    Buddy recently posted…Seriously!? or WTF!?My Profile

  12. Our pups love their veggies, especially carrots! (“real” ones, not the baby wanna-be carrots..)
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Keeping Our Homemade Dog Diet AffordableMy Profile

  13. Our raw mix does have veggies in it, so I’m hopeful we have it covered, but it can’t hurt to add a good multi vitamin to any diet.
    Jodi recently posted…Hickory Dickory Dee – Barks and BytesMy Profile

  14. Very helpful, I didn’t know dogs could eat such a wide range of vegetables. My dog will only eat COOKED carrots, but it’s something. Another factor that can cause heart disease is periodontitis, so I worry about my dog’s teeth. It’s hard to brush them regularly, so I’m always looking for ways to get them clean without having to hold her down!

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