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Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

Herbal nutrition to help address heart disease in dogs and cats and potential preventative actions you can take against canine and feline heart disease.

The heart is at the center of the cardiovascular system and requires nutritional support to help nourish the cardiovascular system to keep it healthy and strong, as well as to feed critical organs linked to the cardiovascular system, including the liver, kidneys, and digestive systems. Proper supplementation may help support optimal cardiac function and muscle cell healing and regeneration, important preventative actions against heart disease.

The heart is one of the most essential organs of the body whose primary function is to pump blood containing critical oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels to cells within the body. If the heart fails to pump blood effectively to meet the needs of your pet's body, the blood circulating is significantly reduced and heart disease can develop.  

More dogs and cats develop various forms of heart disease each year, and many pet parents are surprised to learn that it occurs at a similar rate in their pets as humans. In fact, heart disease is referred to as a "silent killer" of dogs and cats because in the early stages, your pet's body may make adjustments which allow him/her to cope with the disease without showing any visible signs of illness. 

Heart disease affects almost every part of the animal body. When a dog or cat has heart disease, certain parts of the heart cease to function properly, causing it to work extra hard to compensate. The heart becomes unable to pump blood effectively, and blood may back up in the heart, lungs, or other major organs. Blood vessels constrict and blood pressure builds. Due to the building pressure, fluid may leak out of the blood vessels, causing congestion in the lungs and fluid accumulation in the abdomen and/or other tissues, referred to as congestive heart failure. Heart disease and heart failure are not the same. Heart disease is the underlying health condition; heart failure is the consequence of heart disease. 

Heart disease can occur as a result of various factors, including heart worm infection, congenital defects, genetics, hyperthyroidism, a weak heart muscle or heart valve, obesity, aging, poor nutrition or lack of exercise. Quality nutrition, clean, filtered water and supporting balanced immunity are some of the most important preventative actions a pet parent can take against heart disease. 

Dog and cats experience differently. In dogs, heart disease may develop as a result of defects in the heart muscle or in the valves. In cats, defects of the heart muscle are the most common form of heart disease. 

Different types of heart disease include:

Congestive heart failure

Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)

Heart valve disease

Heart murmur

Arrhythmias

Congenital defects

Common symptoms of heart disease include:

Coughing

Breathing difficulties

Pale gums

Weakness (lethargy)

Exercise intolerance

Fainting

Loss of appetite

Weight loss

More details on specific types of heart disease:

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart muscle disease, related to the thinning of the muscle which causes the heart to struggle to pump effectively. Because the heart has to work extra hard, it stretches and enlarges, causing circulation and blood flow to other vital organs to decrease. Dilated cardiomyopathy most commonly affects medium to large breeds such as German Shepherds, Doberman pinschers, Great Danes and Irish Setters and all breeds of cats.

In mitral valve disease, the surfaces of the heart valves are affected. Healthy heart valves act as a seal between the chambers of the heart. When they are affected by heart disease, they begin to leak, affecting circulation and blood pressure. The leakage may also cause a heart murmur. Mitral valve disease is the most common form of heart disease and commonly affects small to medium size breeds such as the Poodle, Chihuahua, Schnauzer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Boston terrier or Fox terrier. Older male dogs are especially affected, whereas cats rarely develop mitral valve disease.

Chronic valvular heart disease develops as a result of thickening and degeneration of the heart valves. This may lead to enlargement of the heart and heart failure because of a buildup of fluid in the abdomen or lungs. Dogs and cats of all sizes, ages and breeds can be affected. 

There are a number of things you can do to promote heart in health in your pet including: 

Feed a premium, holistic or all natural diet that contains the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients and does not include corn, wheat, soy, preservatives or chemical additives.

Provide fresh, filtered, clean water daily (not tap water)

Reduce stress and anxiety in your home environment; your pets can detect mood.

Encourage balanced exercise and play

Maintain a healthy weight in your pet. Overweight and obese animals have a greater risk of heart disease

Visit your holistic vet regularly for routine check ups

Add an immune booster to your pet’s treatment plan to help support a balanced immune system

In holistic, veterinarian medicine and traditional medical systems, herbs and supplements are used as adjunctive therapies to help address varying forms of heart disease. Some herbs are used as potential heart disease preventatives, while others are used more prominently once heart disease has been diagnosed.  

Herbal Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets - human grade meets/exceeds highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies have been used for millennia as a cardio tonic for all types of heart disease, because many herbs are “tonic” in nature, meaning that they may help tone and balance the cardiovascular, circulatory and nervous systems; may nutritionally help strengthen and support healthy heart function, including heart muscles, heart valves, cell walls, veins and arterial function; adaptogenic herbs may help identify heart dysfunction and work to nutritionally address the deficiency toward balance; may help promote cell healing; may help support healthy blood pressure; may help protect cell walls and may help improve healthy circulation.

Kick Start My Heart – (learn more)  is used holistically as a cardio tonic to help address symptoms related to all types of Heart Disease once diagnosed, including Cardiomyopathy, Valvular Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Disease; may help to improve the heart and circulatory systems by strengthening heart muscles and blood flow throughout the body; may help to reduce the risk of heart disease by maintaining heart health, including muscle and cell healing and support of cell walls and arterial blood pressure, for all parts of the body including the brain; may help to protect cell walls and to support strong blood vessels; may help to support the strength of veins and arteries and as a cognitive tonic; may help to stimulate alpha brain waves, critical to heart function; and for its overall toning effects on the heart, circulatory and nervous systems. 

That’s A Nice Looking Bone – (learn more) used holistically to help address all types of Heart Disease (Cardiomyopathy, Valvular Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Disease), for all types of arthritis, osteoporosis, Degenerative Joint Disease and Intervertebral Disk Disease; for its genistein and daidzein isoflavone content which has a stimulatory effect on osteoblastic bone formation and an inhibitory effect on osteoclastic bone resorption and for bone mineral density, thereby increasing bone mass, for its ability to help restore lost cartilage and to support veins and arteries and to help increase vascular elasticity.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart  (learn more) is used holistically as an adjunctive and preventative to heart disease, helping provide nutrients that reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and the risk of coronary cardiac heart and coronary disease; removes fat from arterial walls; may help combat degenerative diseases including arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis; helps support cardiac and circulatory function; helps support the strength of veins, arteries and healthy blood circulation to the brain; helps balance blood sugar levels, critical for pets with diabetes; for hypertension; used holistically to help address Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Disease (CHD), Cardiomyopathy, Valvular Heart Disease, Endocardiosis, Ischemic Heart Disease, Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and as a stroke preventative.

Shake Ur Groove Thing – (learn more) promotes healthy bowel function, purification, gentle parasitic detoxification and body clarification; waste and toxin removal, including pesticides, environmental toxins found inside and outside the home, chemicals related to flea and tick products and drugs regimens such as NSAID’s and synthetic glucosteriods and corticosteroids; helps remove inorganic synthetic and derivative compounds from an animal’s cell walls to help reduce toxic load in the body; also used for cramping, pain, constipation, gas and bloating; helps support a correct balance of native intestinal flora and helps calms the digestive system; promotes immune balance and helps to limit inflammation, which is important in disease prevention; used holistically for anal fissures, fistulas, hemorrhoids, food allergies and hypersensitivities and as a general skin support. 

If you suspect your pet has a heart problem, there is a simple blood test called the Cardiopet proBNP test, which can help determine if your pet's heart is stressed and working beyond capacity. It cannot diagnose specific forms of heart disease, and does not replace veterinarian care where screening tools such as a physical examination and diagnostic tools such as thoracic radiographs, EKG (for arrhythmia evaluation specifically) and echocardiography may confirm a specific diagnosis.

Conventional Remedies:

The diagnosis of heart disease is based on your pet’s symptoms, a thorough physical examination, a review of the medical history as well as may include x-rays, ultrasound and ECG (electrocardiogram) to determine the cause of heart disease.

Your vet will prescribe certain medications depending on the type of heart disease, cause and your pet’s overall health. Medications such as diuretics, vasodilators administered are aimed at reducing the buildup of fluid in the chest and lungs, increasing the amount of blood pumped by the heart and correcting rhythm abnormalities. 

A special diet and nutrient supplements may be recommended as part of the treatment plan. 

 

 

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