Looking for home remedies for dogs with heart problems? When it comes to the heart, the mechanical pump that unceasingly keeps all creatures alive, there are unfortunately many things that may go wrong. Electrical mishaps, clogs, leaks, malformations, pressure problems, and general malfunctions, are just a few examples. Different parts of your dog’s’s heart may also be involved: the valves, chambers and ventricles may be affected, or the veins and arteries leading to the heart may be the ones creating problems. A dog’s heart therefore just as in humans, may be prone to quite a long list of diseases and disorders.
However, unlike humans, it may be interesting to learn that pets are very unlikely to suffer from one of the leading causes of death in humans: heart attacks. This is mainly due to the fact that dogs process fats in a different way than humans, and therefore the chances of developing plaque in the arteries are very low. When a ”heart attack” is pronounced as a cause for death in a dog or cat, most likely the terminology is used to depict a syncope, or simply, to describe an occurrence of sudden death, explains veterinarian Nancy Laste, in an article for Petplace.com.
So what types of heart diseases affect pets and what causes them to occur in the first place? What are potentially warning symptoms that something may be wrong? There are several kinds of heart disorders affecting four legged companions and some may range from innocent heart arrhythmias to even deadly congestive heart failure.
Causes of Heart Disease in Pets
Many things in the heart may go wrong. There can be electrical mishaps, leaking, clogs, malformations, pressure problems and malfunctions, to just name a few. Different parts of the heart may be involved such as the valves, chambers and ventricles, or the veins and arteries leading to the heart may be creating problems. Dogs may therefore have valvular defects, tumors, heart worm parasites, arrhythmia that long term and left untreated could ultimately even lead to congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure consists of an enlarged heart that becomes rounded instead of keeping its typical triangular shape. The shape is due to the blood pooling and accumulating in the organs and lungs.
Scarring of the heart ‘s mitral valves is often seen in elderly dogs and is believed to be caused by periodontal disease causing bacteria to travel from the mouth into the blood stream, ultimately attaching to the heart valves.Congenital disorders, in other words, conditions pets are born with, are not abnormal. Subaoritic stenosis takes place when a pet is born with a narrow passage from the heart to the aorta. This condition can be often picked up by veterinarians when using a stethoscope since the blood will have difficulty passing causing a characteristic sound known as a heart murmur. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, on the other hand occurs when the chambers of the heart thicken and enlarge causing the blood to no longer be pumped correctly. Heart worms are also known to cause major damage to a dog’s and cat’s heart when left untreated. Lack of taurine, an important amino acid has also been known to cause serious heart problems, however most cat foods now add this important nutrient to prevent this from happening.
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs
• Coughing is one of the most common signs of heart disease. This tends to occur when the heart enlarges and puts pressure on the windpipe and fluids back up in the lungs. Coughing after exercise or at night is also common.
• Ascites means the accumulation of fluids in the abdomen. Owners may notice their dog develops an enlarged abdomen and this is due to the heart causing fluids to pool in the abdomen.
• Tiredness, lethargy, lack of energy are also symptoms to be wary of.
• Bluish tinted gums are a serious sign suggesting that circulation is bad.
• Fainting or collapse are often signs of advanced heart disorders.
Treatment of Heart Disorders in Pets
Obviously treatment varies depending on the ultimate cause of the heart problem. Diuretics may be prescribed to remove excess fluids causing pooling in the lungs and enlarged abdomens. ACE inhibitors are vaso-dilating drugs given to enlarge narrowed blood vessel passages. Anti-arrhythmic are given to help regulate heart arrhythmia. Taurine may given in case of deficiencies. Heart worms may need to killed. Surgery may be necessary for balloon angioplasties or other procedures. Diet and the right amount of exercise also plays a big role since many obese dogs suffer from heart disorders.
Natural Treatments for Dogs With Heart Problems
Many dogs with heart disease need prescription diuretics to help remove the fluid from around the heart and lungs. Their use in these dogs is important. While there are no real home remedies that will treat heart disease in dogs, there are some supplements that may be helpful for general cardiac health support. It’s always important to consult with a vet before giving any supplements to dogs as each type of heart condition may be different and some supplements may interact with veterinary prescription medications.
Low Sodium Diet
When a dog has a heart problem, it’s important to lower the sodium content in food. This is why many vets now prescribe veterinary diets with a low sodium level so to help maintain normal blood pressure. Such diets often contain as well high levels of taurine to help support the heart muscle along with L-carnitine to support healthy heart function. Because dogs taking diuretics are prone to losing B-vitamins and magnesium, these diets often contain these nutrients. If your dog has a heart problem, it’s a good idea conducting some research on the best diet.
As for humans, coenzyme Q-10, also known as ubiquinone, may be helpful for cardiac support. According to VCA Animal Hospital, Coenzyme Q-10 has a history of being used in both humans and pets for the treatment of heart disease and studies have shown an improved heart functions in dog with heart disease and heart failure taking this supplement. While this antioxidant works well for mild cases, Coenzyme Q-10 can be used as an adjunctive therapy along with traditional medications in dogs suffering from more severe forms of heart disease.
Hawthorn has been used by humans for cardiac support for many years, it’s no surprise that now it’s being used also for dogs. The herb has a reputation for increasing heart contractions and decreasing blood pressure, but according to veterinarian Dr. Rogers, it may up to 8 weeks to take effect. Because this drug may interact with other drugs the dog is prescribed, it’s best to consult with a vet.