Our dogs do our hearts a world of good, but what about theirs? Every dog owner wants to enjoy as many years with their pet as possible, and maintaining their cardiac health is key to this.
Dogs can develop heart disease and other cardiac problems, so owners need to know how to keep our beloved pet’s hearts healthy through proper diet, exercise and health checks. The bonus is that some of the steps we can take to protect our dog’s cardiac health also protect our own hearts.
How to Help Your Dog Stay Fit
Daily exercise is vital to keep the heart strong and fit. How long and how intense that exercise should be depends on your dog. How old are they? What is their current fitness level? If your dog is older or has only been taking slow, short walks, talk to your vet before starting a more intense routine. The ideal dog walk is a mix of brisk walking and time spent sniffing. Walks aren’t the only way for dogs to exercise. Playing fetch and other games provides a workout for their body and brain. And some dogs just love to run, so finding a safe place for this can help keep them in peak condition.
What’s a Heart-Healthy Diet for Dogs?
A healthy diet for your dog depends on the right balance of wholesome ingredients to provide complete nutrition. It varies according to size, age and activity level. If your dog is carrying some extra weight, a low-calorie food might be healthiest. Omega 3 oils are important for a healthy heart. These are found naturally in oily fish such as salmon or herring, but omega 3 is often added to quality dog foods because of its benefits to a dog’s heart, skin and coat.
Don’t Forget Your Vet
Regular vet checks can catch many health problems, including cardiac issues, early, which means they can be controlled. Your dog’s heart might be beating faster at the vet because of anxiety or excitement, but your vet can check your dog for other signs of trouble. Pale gums or a build-up of tartar and plaque on their teeth can suggest cardiac problems. Your vet will also listen for any sign of a murmur or irregular heartbeat. A heart murmur is a symptom of mitral value disease, the most common heart problem among dogs.
Your vet will also depend on your observations. If your dog coughs, loses interest in playing and avoids exercise, shows signs of lethargy, experiences restlessness and can’t settle down comfortably or has any other behaviour changes, this should prompt your vet to check further for cardiac problems.
Some breeds are more prone to heart conditions. If your best friend is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Doberman, Irish Wolfhound, Boston Terrier, Chihuahua – or a mixed breed that includes any of those – it’s important to be mindful of their heart health from day one to prevent problems as much as possible. A healthy heart is key to keeping our furry friends by our sides enjoying the longest and most enjoyable life they can.