7 tips for managing canine heart health

November 14, 2014

Ensuring good canine heart health through a good diet, exercise, supplements and other tools can lengthen the life of your dog. While obesity and poor exercise habits have increased heart disease in dogs, there are still plenty of ways to fight for your pooch's health.

7 tips for managing canine heart health

1. Monitor your dog's oral health

Just like humans, dogs who have gum disease have a greater risk of developing heart disease. To keep heart-damaging bacteria at bay, brush your dog's teeth daily and schedule professional dental cleanings as necessary.

2. Consider heart healthy supplements

Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fats that can protect against heart disease. To get dosing instructions for your dog, ask your vet during your next appointment.

3. Make time for regular exercise

Even if your dog's a couch potato, he still needs daily exercise to maintain his health. Chasing balls, walking around the neighbourhood and summertime swims are all great ways to ensure a heart-healthy workout for your dog. If your dog already has heart disease, however, check with your veterinarian for exercise instructions.

4. Limit your dog's sodium intake

All dogs benefit from avoiding excess salt. If your dog is diagnosed with heart problems, your veterinarian will likely recommend a low sodium diet. Dogs without heart problems should still skip high sodium foods, such as processed meat and commercial beef broth.

5. Maintain your dog's body condition

Help your dog maintain an ideal weight to prevent obesity-related heart disease. Instead of using the scale, assess your dog's body condition weekly. A dog at a healthy weight will have a waist that's easily visible and ribs that can be identified by running your hands along your dog's sides.

6. Screen for genetic heart conditions

Dilated cardiomyopathy and mitral valve disease are two types of heart disease that are genetically linked to certain breeds of dogs. Boxers, Great Danes and poodles are three common dog breeds that have a higher risk of heart disease.

7. Look for early symptoms of heart disease

Diagnosing heart disease early will give you a chance to lengthen your dog's life through medications, diet alterations and other methods. Talk to your vet if your dog is lethargic, coughs or has problems breathing. Also, make time for regular veterinarian visits, so your dog can be checked for heart murmurs and other problems.

To maintain good canine heart health, make sure your veterinarian is on your team. Don't be afraid to discuss your heart health plan with your vet and ask for further suggestions. With the right preventative measures, your dog may be able to avoid future heart problems.

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