February is Heart Month, which is a perfect time to check in with not only your heart health but the health of your pet’s heart as well. Dogs, unlike humans, rarely get coronary artery disease. However, there are conditions, such as contentive heart failure, that can weaken the heart muscles of your pet. Slowing the progression or complete avoidance of these conditions is possible through changes in diet and lifestyle. The following are some helpful tips concerning the heart health of your pet.
A healthy body begins with a healthy diet. A dog’s diet can have a direct impact on skin, joints, and proper organ function. Remember a healthy diet for a dog is not the same as a human’s healthy diet. Unless your dog has specific allergies, grain is an important part of a dog’s balanced diet. Use caution when getting caught up in K9 ‘fad diets’, and always consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about appropriate foods for your animal.
Regular exercise is key to keeping your dog healthy. Regular hikes, walks, or swims will have lasting impacts on the life of your pet.
Exams allow your veterinarian a chance to establish baseline numbers with your healthy pet. If you only bring your pet in during emergencies, they have nothing to compare their findings to. Additionally, if something seems off during an annual exam the veterinarian has a better chance of implementing early action than if something were to be overlooked at home.
Periodontal disease is very common in dogs and has a strong correlation to heart disease. Take preventative action and schedule your pet for regular dental care. For more information on the importance of dental care, check out the January blog posting.
Flea and tick preventatives can prevent illnesses that can lead to stress on the heart. Additionally, heartworm disease causes roughly 13% of heart disease in dogs. Ensuring that your pet is on heartworm prevention can reduce their risk of heart disease.
KNOW YOUR BREED
Some breeds are at heightened risks of developing heart disease. Know if your pet is classified as one of those so you can note any developing symptoms and take immediate action.
KNOW THE SIGNS
Not all of the following signs/symptoms are a definitive, but rather things to look out for. If you have concerns talk with your veterinarian. The following are signs of heart disease: Dry Coughing (or cough that is worse at night), Shortness of Breath, Tiredness, Rapid Weight Loss, Pale Gums, and Swollen Abdomen.
Unfortunately, heart disease is not preventable. However, by taking other measures you can keep your pet’s heart healthy for as long as possible. Remember by getting outside and exercising your pet, you are not only keeping their heart healthy, but yours as well!
Blog By: Nicole Lathrop