The Best Food for a Dog with a Heart Condition

by Cindy Quarters
    A dog with a heart condition should avoid "people food."

    A dog with a heart condition should avoid "people food."

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    Your No. 1 ally when choosing the best food for your dog after he has been diagnosed with heart disease is your veterinarian. Your vet will provide you with a diet that takes into account your dog’s size, the seriousness of his condition and his specific needs. You can help your pal by checking out the available food and treat options and making sure he always sticks to his diet.

    The best food for a dog with a heart condition is a food that is low in sodium. Salt makes your dog's body cling to fluids that he doesn't need, putting extra strain on his heart. Reducing the levels of sodium can help to minimize fluid retention so the heart can function more efficiently. According to the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, a dog with mild heart disease may not require a drastic reduction in sodium intake, while a dog with more severe heart disease may require much lower sodium levels. Be sure to get your vet's recommendation before choosing food.

    Some research indicates that adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet can help to improve his overall health. This is particularly important if your dog has lost a lot of weight due to his heart problem, a condition known as “cardiac cachexia.” He can end up getting weaker and weaker as his condition gets worse. According to the Mar Vista Veterinary Clinic, adding omega-3 fatty acids may help to stimulate your pet’s appetite and reduce the debilitating effects of this serious condition.

    While healthy dogs generally do not require supplementation with taurine, it can help your dog if he is experiencing heart problems. Adequate taurine can help to prevent heart disease in breeds that are sensitive to taurine levels, including Newfoundlands, cocker spaniels, English setters, Saint Bernards, Labradors and golden retrievers. Not everyone is aware that some diets are naturally low in taurine, such as low-protein, lamb and rice and high-fiber diets. If you feed your dog a regular commercial diet, he probably is getting enough of this essential amino acid. If you don’t, ask your veterinarian about supplementation.

    Veterinarians such as those at Washington State University strongly recommend that you never give your pet human foods and treats, especially those that are high in salt. No matter how tasty they are, you aren't doing your pup a favor by adding in a lot of people foods. Avoid hot dogs and other processed meats, chips, popcorn, cheese and pretzels. Instead, offer your pal treats that are low in sodium, including cooked, unsalted turkey and chicken and commercially available low-salt pet treats. Watch for these and read the labels to find the one that's best for your dog.

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    About the Author

    Cindy Quarters has been writing professionally since 1984. She writes travel, pet, gardening and technical articles, with work published in "Radiance Magazine" and the "AKC Gazette," as well as online. Quarters earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Washington State University and a master's degree in management information systems from West Coast University.

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