February Is National Heart Month… So Here Are Some Good Points And Information For You And Your Pup… Have A Happy Healthy Heart Month​

This is a long one but worth the read. The links from Dr. Becker offer a lot of insight into DCM and other heart based issues. 

Keeping your dogs heart healthy is very similar to what you would do to keep your own heart healthy. Good diet , exercise,  good oral care,low stress environment and lots of playtime  are great ways to maintain your pups heart health.

Heart disease in canines can be congenital (hereditary), but the vast majority of cases (95 percent) are acquired. It is typically a condition of middle-aged and older dogs, and involves either the heart muscle itself, or the valves of the heart.

Common heart disorders in dogs include:

· Valvular disease- Heart valve problems are the most common type of canine heart disease. The valves of the heart weaken with age and begin to leak when the heart muscle pumps.

· Heart Worm Disease– Mosquitoes are the carriers. The worms take up residence in the heart and cause disease.

· Myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart caused by infection (usually bacterial). Myocarditis both weakens and enlarges the heart muscle.

· Pericardial disease, in which the protective sac around a dog’s heart fills with liquid, interfering with the normal beating mechanism.

· Arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat brought on by a problem with the body’s electrical control system.

Interestingly, one of the most common reasons for heart disease in humans, blocked arteries, is rare in dogs. Unfortunately, heart problems in dogs are relatively common. A heart murmur can be caused by abnormal blood flow within the heart, usually involving the heart valves. Murmurs can also be caused by problems in communication between the left and right sides of the heart. Murmurs can be present at birth (congenital). They can also be acquired due to disease or the aging process.

Heart murmurs in puppies tend to be pretty innocent… but with older dogs it should be looked into. Heart issues can be difficult to detect but there are some signs that should not be ignored

· Coughing that does not go away after 4 to 5 days

· Blue or Bluish appearing tongue ( this is serious so vet  asap.)

· Loss of appetite

· Fatigue, weakness, loss of stamina, decreased exercise endurance

·Too fast or too slow heart beat; increased respiratory effort, including increased respiratory rate

·Heart rate depending on size of dog.. little guys beat faster 60-140 beats per minute

· Breaths per minute you can count these but make sure your pup is at rest 10-35 per  minute the full up/down motion is considered one breath.

Certain breeds are more prone to heart problems:

Breed Heart Condition

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dachshund, Small breeds Acquired mitral valve disease

Bull Terrier, Rottweiler Congenital mitral valve disease

Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, Labrador Retriever Myocardial failure

Cocker and English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherd, Maltese, Poodle Patent ductus arteriosus

Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, English Bulldog, Mastiff, Miniature Schnauzer, Samoyed, West Highland White TerrierPulmonary stenosis

Boxer, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Rottweiler Subvalvular aortic stenosis

Labrador Retriever Congenital tricuspid valve disease

English Springer Spaniel Ventricular septal defect

The good news is, if your pup is diagnosed with any if the above in most cases there is a lot you can do to keep them happy and healthy.

Diet and supplements play a big role in your dogs heart health, along with good dental health.  In Recent months a lot has been said about grain free kibble causing DCM. This has turned out to be inaccurate. Most  Kibble itself does not provide adequate protein or Taurine. So if you feed kibble there are many things you can do to supplement or add human grade protein to your pups diet. This is really important for their health and longevity

.. This article by Dr Becker is a very important read … Here are some excerpts and a link below 

Protein deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy

DCM is multifactorial, meaning it has multiple causes. Genetics and nutrition both play a role, and the nutrition component is also multifactorial. For example, the lectins and other anti-nutrients in grain-free kibble may be contributors. In addition, toxic levels of metals (iron, copper and cobalt) have been linked to DCM in humans.3,4

However, the elephant in the room is protein deficiency, which when coupled with high levels of certain minerals causes DCM in humans that is reversible with added protein in the diet.5,6,7 From the 2016 study cited:

“… [H]ypothesis is consistent with observations in animal models, which showed no cardiomyopathy with cobalt exposure alone but a severe cardiomyopathy when cobalt exposure was preceded by protein deficiency …”8

For pets, AAFCO sets minimum mineral requirements, but not maximums, and some companies may supply excessive synthetic nutrients via the premixes used across multiple formulations. This is one reason I suggest rotating proteins and brands often.

How pet foods become protein-deficient

All pet food contains three sources of calories and nutrients: fat, protein and carbohydrates, which occur in varying amounts depending on the formula. It’s the amount of each of these components that means the difference between health and disease, and also defines how species-appropriate the food is.

1.Excessive carbohydrates — In the vast majority of dry pet foods on the market, excessive amounts of carbs offset animal protein, which creates amino acid deficiencies. Canned food usually has fewer carbs that kibble, which is why over 90% of the DCM reports have involved dogs on dry versus canned diets. Additionally, if a pet parent feeds a lower volume of food than their pet requires (for example, to a dog who needs to lose weight), this reduces critical amino acid intake from meat-based protein even further.

In my opinion, vegan diets, high-carbohydrate diets (e.g., most grain-free kibble), high-fiber diets (weight loss formulas) and low protein diets (“senior” formulas) can also predispose dogs to nutritionally mediated DCM over time. These diets lack sufficient meat-based protein, coupled with excess minerals and the digestion and absorption issues created by significant alteration of nutrients during processing.

2.Excessive fat — In the case of raw diets, if they’re poorly formulated, excessive fat can offset animal protein. Raw lamb diets (lamb is high in fat) have been implicated in a few cases of DCM. When I formulate homemade pet diets for clients, it’s extremely challenging to meet minimum amino acid requirements using any meat that’s less than 80% lean (which means the meat contains 20% fat).

Lean meat is expensive, so some fresh pet food producers use fatty meats and add additional animal fat to their formulas as well, creating fresh meat-based diets that are grossly deficient in amino acids because all that fat offsets the protein in the meat. This is also why high-ratio ketogenic diets can’t be fed to dogs indefinitely — They’re deficient in amino acids and can create protein deficiency-related disease, if fed long-term.

Unbalanced prey model diets have also caused DCM in cats.9 Remember, domesticated animals (in this case, prey animals) do not contain the same macronutrients as their wild counterparts.

For more information on click on the link below



There are also some great acupressure points that can also help if your dog has been diagnosed, or can be used as preventative  to keep the heart strong and functional especially if your dog is on the list above.

PE6 Inside of the front limb  between the tendons three cun above the crease in the wrist ( transverse carpal crease)

HT 7 PE7 in the depression between the tendon and the ligament it is a natural depression and pretty easy to find just above the bend in the wrist. Your fingers will slide in the groove on either side. Hold both sides that is actually 2 points Ht7 and Pe7

CV17 ventral midline 4th intercostal space  caudal border of the elbows

LIV3  between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal  (back legs)

KI 27    found between the sternum and the first rib and 2nd rib two cun off the ventral midline