In heart disease, the first thing a pet parent might notice is a cough. A cough by itself could mean a multitude of things (most of which we should try to determine the cause). When the heart is enlarged, fluid backs up into the lungs and causes your pet to cough. As the heart enlarges, it can also press on the wind pipe which results in more coughing. Other signs of heart disease include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, weight loss, loss of appetite and just plain tiredness.
HEART DISEASE –
Two types of heart disease are Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Hypertrophic Cardiomyoopathy.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is when the heart muscle is weakened which results in poor pumping and contractions of blood flow. It is common in dogs and one of the most common reasons for heart failure. Some breeds are more predisposed such as large and giant breeds and smaller breeds such as cocker spaniels. It is uncommon in cats.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)– HCM is more common in cats but does affect dogs as well. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a thickening of the walls of heart muscle. As the walls become thicker, less blood can flow, which leads to an inefficient pumping of blood. Blood pressure becomes elevated which eventually results in the heart enlarging.
Other Heart Disease like conditions
Heart worm disease – this is a serious condition caused by worms that live in the arteries of the lungs. As the worms grow, pets become more lethargic and sick. Heart worm larvae is often spread by a mosquito bite and typically is undetectable until 6-7months after they have contradicted it. Many pets suffer and die from heart worms every year. Prevention is your key defense. Every pet owner should consult with their vet to find the right monthly treatment for them.
Pneumonia is more commonly found in young and old pets, those with weaker immune systems. It can be from an illness, heart disease or the result of a pet eating a foreign object that they shouldn’t have (plastic toys, something hard, socks…). Pneumonia is a very serious condition that needs to be treated right away.
TIPS TO A HEALTHIER HEART – DIET AND EXERCISE.
Eating a healthy diet low in processed ingredients is important to maintaining a healthy body and heart. Many vets will also agree that a low sodium diet is important for any pet that may have heart disease. Sodium can elevate blood pressure and increase retained fluid.
The way to a healthy heart is through fatty acids and amino acids such as Omega-3 Fatty Acids, L-carnitine and Taurine. Omega-3 fatty acids help the flow of blood and many studies have show them to be beneficial for pets and humans. L-Carnitine is an amino acid found in meat and dairy products. Taurine is also important and is found primarily in the lower intestine. Foods rich in taurine include eggs, fish, meat, milk and seafood. Most of us have heard that taurine is important for cats but there have been studies that show it is important for dogs as well. Many of the natural pet foods include these supplements in their diets. You can also add supplements, especially omega-3 to your pet’s diet
WEIGHT AND EXERCISE
Overweight pets put an increased strain on the heart. By keeping your pet at an optimal weight, the heart benefits as well as their joints. The heart is a muscle and even pets with heart disease should continue to do some exercise without overexertion. It is also really important to avoid high heat and heat exhaustion .
The treatment or prevention of heart disease is the responsibility of the pet parent. As with any health issue, noticing early warning signs is important.
Nadine Joli-Coeur is the owner of Natural Pawz and a featured monthly columnist for pet nutrition.
About Natural Pawz:
With 7 stores in the greater-Houston area, Natural Pawz continues to set the standard in the market for 100%-natural pet food, treats and holistic health solutions supplies, all of which are sourced from the USA and Canada. The Natural Pawz team can help navigate you through choosing the healthiest food for your companion cats and dogs, while showing you how easy and affordable it is to provide the proper nutrition to your beloved animal. Natural Pawz is not like traditional boutiques or national retailers. We are a locally owned natural pet food store that also carries a wide variety of wellness products, collars and leads, bedding and special rewards for your cat and dog. Each location is managed and staffed by a team of customer-friendly knowledgeable associates that are involved in the community and truly get to know you and your animal. Natural Pawz has been voted Best Pet Supply Store in Houston in Click2Houston’s Best of Houston for two consecutive years and was voted as “Best Pet Services, Supplies or Boutique” by the Houston Press, Fort Bend Herald, Woodlands Online and, most recently, named “Best Pet Product Company” in H-Texas Magazine’s Best of the Best list.