PetMeds® Heart Disease in Dogs

A progressive chronic cough could be a potential symptom of heart disease in dogs In our pets heart disease is just as serious as it is for us humans. It can occur in certain breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Dobermans, Boxers, and King Charles Cavalier Spaniels (to name just a few) where these conditions can be genetic. The most common type heart disease is mitral valve regurgitation, which occurs more often in aging, smaller, and mixed breed dogs. There can be a wide variety of presentations of heart disease from the asymptomatic pet. These presentations can include the disease being initially detected through hearing of a heart murmur on physical exam, to pets that present with sudden congestive heart failure.

Between these two extremes are a variety of symptoms one should be aware of, ranging from exercise intolerance to a chronic progressive hacking cough. Symptoms of canine heart disease can mimic signs of chronic airway disease, especially in toy breeds, and some dogs can even have both chronic airway disease and heart disease at the same time.  The only way to properly diagnose heart disease and further determine if specific treatment is needed is through a proper physical exam, chest X-rays, EKG and often an echocardiogram.

While long standing drugs such as Furosemide (lasix), Digoxin, and Enalapril have often improved quality of life, the recent availability of the drug Vetmedin (Pimobendan) has truly extended both quality and quantity of life in many dogs. And while heart disease can and will affect many dogs, dietary and nutritional therapy can help play a role in prevention and treatment. Some tips to help:

  • Stay away from high salt, fatty processed commercial diets, and stress either minimally processed natural commercial diets such as Halo, Nature’s Variety, or fresh homemade quality diets.
  • Essential fatty acid supplementation is critical in both healthy and less-than-healthy dogs as a preventative supplement, but are even more essential in dogs with diagnosed heart disease.
  • Other nutrients such as Vetri-DMG, coenzyme Q-10 (Cell Advance), hawthorn berry, and minerals like magnesium can all help in managing heart disease.

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