2 Diet Tips to Keep Your Dog's Heart Healthy
When you love your furry friends, the last thing you want is to lose them to a health problem that could have been prevented. Heart disease is a devastating condition that affects around 10% of dogs, reaching a rate of over 60% for aging pooches. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce your dog's risk of heart failure, including improving their diet. Here are 2 dietary tips that will help you keep your beloved dog's heart healthy:
The Right Protein Levels
If you've been a dog lover for a long time, you may have heard advice suggesting that you restrict your dog's protein intake to keep their heart healthy. In the past, experts believed that protein could put stress on a dog's organs and system, leading to damaging effects on the heart. While it's true that a diet too high in protein can be dangerous, also causing weight gain and abnormal joint development, dogs do need a healthy level of protein in their food to protect their heart. If a dog doesn't get enough protein, they can suffer from decreased muscle mass. As the heart is a muscular organ, this can have devastating consequences. So, when choosing your dog's food, look for a protein content of 18-25%; puppies, working dogs, and pregnant or nursing dogs will need more. Ideally, this should be a high-quality, lean protein like chicken or salmon.
Most dog owners are aware that poor dental health can lead to canine gum disease, but did you know it's also a cause of a more sinister problem? That problem is heart disease, which develops when the bacteria and plaque from your dog's teeth enter the bloodstream through damaged gums. This bacteria can attack the heart just like it attacks teeth and gums. Aside from brushing your dog's teeth regularly, giving them foods and treats they have to chew can be a great way to prevent plaque build-up. Raw bones (as cooked bones can splinter) and commercial 'dental' chew sticks can act as a natural toothbrush, removing bacteria from your dog's teeth before it causes a heart problem. Dogs with recurring gum and tooth problems may benefit from specially formulated dental kibble. You should also remember to keep sweet treats like peanut butter and fruit to a minimum; aside from tooth problems, the extra calories can lead to weight gain and put strain on the heart.
Above all else, remember that the best way to ensure your dog is healthy is to have regular vet check-ups. If your dog is already showing signs of heart disease, like dry coughing, fatigue, weight loss and shortness of breath, make an appointment at your earliest convenience.
Talk to your vet for more tips on keeping your pet happy and healthy!