It can be overwhelming to learn that your dog is suffering or is at risk of congestive heart failure. This is a heart condition, in which, your dog's heart cannot effectively pump blood to all body organs.
It progresses slowly and gets worse over time.
If unfortunately your beloved pooch is diagnosed with this condition, it is important to learn how you can manage and take care of your dog.
Together with the help of your veterinarian, you can ensure your furry friend leads an active and happy life. This can be through nutrition, exercise or medication where necessary.
Most importantly, a special balanced diet will help in their overall wellbeing and health.
When choosing the best food for congestive heart failure, consider a low sodium diet, added amino acid supplements like taurine to help the heart muscles and high quality ingredients.
In addition, look out for added vitamins and minerals to replace those lost during the treatment.
Particularly, this article will shed light on the symptoms to look out for and how to choose the best dog food for congestive heart failure.
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What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure is an end stage condition which occurs as a result of a heart condition, which your dog may be suffering from, in which part of the heart does not operate effectively.
Meaning, other parts of the heart have to overwork, in order to compensate for the inadequacy.
This puts your pooch at risk of heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump adequate blood that the body needs. Resulting in a buildup of blood in other major organs like the liver and lungs.
The blood vessels in these organs constrict leading to a rise in blood pressure.
In turn, fluids leak out of the vessels and cause congestion in the lungs. This fluid can also accumulate in the tissues or abdomen. This is the condition that is referred to as congestive heart failure in dogs.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
It can be difficult to notice any signs of congestive heart condition especially in the initial stages.
In addition, the signs will vary depending on the underlying heart condition or disease.
Let us have a look at the most common signs as the disease progresses.
You will notice that your pet coughs persistently especially at night when sleeping or resting, and early morning. This is as a result of the accumulation of fluids in the lungs.
The heart is enlarged and rubs against the trachea, which causes irritation hence inducing a cough.
Struggling To Breathe
Your faithful pooch will experience difficulty breathing even when at rest. This is caused by fluid accumulation in her lungs. Therefore, whenever they try to inhale, they will be panting and puffing.
Lack of Energy
Due to inadequate blood flow to body organs, your pet will find it difficult to exercise. They will avoid taking walks and tend to sleep more.
Persistent Loss of Appetite
This is likely to happen because accumulation of fluid in the abdomen pushes the stomach and makes them feel full. Some medication for treating CHF also causes loss in appetite.
As the muscles on the heart reduce and begins to pump blood ineffectively, fluid will start accumulating in the stomach. The swollen belly is especially seen in the early stages.
Pale or Bluish Gums
The normal color of canine gums ranges from pale pink to pink. If you notice it has turned blue, it could mean the blood is not well oxygenated. This could be because the heart is not functioning properly.
How to Choose the Right Dog Food for Congestive Heart Failure
It is recommended that dogs with cardiovascular problems feed on low sodium diets as their hearts cannot get rid of excess levels. High salt levels overload the heart and increase blood pressure worsening their condition.
Added Taurine and L -Carnitine
Supplementing their diet with these two amino acids will help in proper functioning of the heart muscle. High levels of these nutrients support production of energy in the heart muscle.
Vitamin B, which is soluble, is likely to be lost in urine due to the use of certain heart medications. Therefore, consider a diet which supplements this in their food.
Potassium and Magnesium
Your veterinary doctor will need to test and determine the levels of these two minerals in your pet’s blood. Depending on the findings they will advise on supplementing them.
Reduced levels of magnesium increases the risk of side effects of heart medications and weakening of heart muscles.
Dog Food for Congestive Heart Failure - Product Reviews
1. Hill's Prescription Diet h/d Heart Care Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
Hills Prescription Diet dog food is specifically formulated for dogs with congestive heart failure. It meets all the special nutritional requirements for your pooch.
Most importantly, it contains low sodium levels to limit fluid retention. This is because your pet will have reduced ability to get rid of the excess amounts.
If excess sodium is retained it makes their heart condition worse by increasing their blood pressure and the workload on their hearts.
Hence, this low sodium meal is of benefit to your pet's quality of life and longevity.
It also contains high levels of L- carnitine and Taurine, which are amino acids (supplemental nutrients) that support heart function.
Hill’s Prescription diet contains appropriate levels of phosphorus and protein which will support lean mass muscle for a healthy heart. As dogs with CHF tend to lose weight, depleting their fat stores and muscle.
This diet also features clinically proven antioxidants which improves the immune system of your pet for better food absorption.
In addition, it contains added B vitamins supplement to replace the nutrients lost in urine. Which occurs due to the use of heart medications such as diuretics, which increases the passage of urine.
Hill Prescription diet dog food is available in an appropriate kibble size for all breed sizes.
2. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Early Cardiac Dry Dog Food
Royal Canin Veterinary diet is specifically formulated dog food for adult dogs who are at risk of or suffering from cardiac disease.
It is a highly digestible food, which is a key feature because dogs with heart issues have a problem with food absorption. This diet ensures nutrients have a high chance of getting into the bloodstream. In order to provide the extra energy needed for their heart to pump blood around the body.
Royal Canin Veterinary diet is also highly palatable because your dog would experience reduced appetite levels. This is due to lethargy and side effects of any heart medication your pet is on. This diet is yummy and your dog will enjoy it and eat enough for their calorie needs.
It also features Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid, which are long Omega- 3 fatty acids to aid in stabilizing heart muscle cells. That leads to proper functioning of the cardiovascular system of your furry companion.
Other beneficial ingredients include arginine, carnitine and taurine that help support heart functions.
This dog food also contains moderate levels of sodium which are within the restricted levels for dry food. Which will go a long way in the disease management for your pet.
This Royal Canin Veterinary diet is naturally preserved and fortified with tocopherols to improve the immune system of your dog.
3. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food, Grain Free
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet is formulated with few ingredients to prevent the occurrence of food sensitivities and upsets.
This diet contains a single source protein, that is, salmon, which is a high quality protein that helps maintain strong muscles. This makes it a perfect choice for your pet that has digestive concerns with beef, chicken, lamb and other animal based proteins.
A high protein diet is also important in the management of congestive heart failure especially at later stages of the illness. This is because your pooch will no longer obtain all nutritional needs from its food alone.
As a result, it forces the body to breakdown tissues such as muscle to provide the extra energy required. Therefore, the right amount of energy to keep your pet at a healthy weight is vital.
In addition, Natural Balance LID features sweet potato which provides natural fiber that promotes healthy digestion. In turn, your pet will have healthy skin and a shiny coat.
This limited ingredient diet is also grain free with no artificial flavors, additives and colors.
4. Wellness Complete Health Adult Lamb & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food
If you are looking for a complete all natural balanced nutritional diet for your pet then consider Wellness Complete Health Adult Lamb and Barley Dry Dog Food. It is manufactured by Wellness Company who are pioneers in holistic nutrition.
It contains high quality single source protein that is, lamb, that provides all the energy for play sessions with your furry friend. It is also ideal for canines with food allergies or intolerance.
It is supplemented with fresh whole food carbohydrates that are easily digested including ground barley and sweet potatoes. Importantly, it does not contain any meat by-products.
The dog food also features ground flax seeds rich in Omega- 3 fatty acids for a shiny coat and high fiber for ease of movement of food through the gut.
It also contains taurine that helps in proper functioning of the heart.
In addition, it contains carrot and tomatoes that provide minerals and vitamins for a thriving immune system.
Lastly, this dog food contains chondroitin sulfate which is important for adult dogs, specifically for your pet’s joints.
5. Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food
If you are shopping for organic, all natural food for your pup, consider this whole grain beef recipe. It is made from high quality, safe, non - GMO ingredients and nutritious grains.
It features ranch raised beef, which provides the single source protein. In addition, it contains fresh produce such as apples and carrots from organic farms.
Honest Kitchen Whole Grain diet is lower in calories and fats. Therefore, it is ideal if your adult or senior dog requires help with weight management. It is also suitable for all dog sizes and breeds.
Additionally, the food is dehydrated in a timely technique to retain more vitamins and minerals in the whole grains. Consequently, expelling moisture makes it compact and dense with nutrients.
The recipe too does not contain any by products or preservatives.
Lastly, the preparation process is quick and easy. You need to mix the food with warm water and let it rest for a few minutes (approximately 3 minutes) before serving your pup.
Therefore, it is a perfect dog food for camping and travelling trips with your furry friend.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best food for a dog with heart disease?
The best diet will depend on the severity of the condition, their nutritional needs and medical requirements. You will need to consult with your veterinarian for a suitable diet.
However, the most important considerations include the following:
- High protein diet to maintain lean mass muscle and ideal body weight.
- Low sodium diet depending on the stage of heart disease.
- Contain supplemental nutrients to aid in heart function such as omega 3 fatty acids.
- Compliment any nutritional deficiencies with high carnitine and taurine levels. They support production of energy in the heart and increase its’ metabolism
Is it ok to walk a dog with congestive heart failure?
Dogs with heart disease tend to tire easily and have a limited tolerance to activity.
Unfortunately, congestive heart failure cannot be treated but it is only managed. Therefore, the aim is to allow them to exercise for their enjoyment.
Avoid excessive exercise or activity.
If they normally walk in front of you, while on the leash and you see them slowing down to walking alongside you. It means the exercise was too much for them.
If they fall behind, then they need to rest. Also consider taking shorter walks.
No pet parent ever wants to hear such a disheartening diagnosis like congestive heart failure. However, getting the diagnosis early enough will enable you and your veterinarian to take good care of your dog.
Observing proper special nutrition can help better your dog’s quality of life and also prolong her life. Giving you time to create more memories with your buddy.
Importantly, choosing the best dog food for congestive heart failure will boost your pooch’s immunity to manage the condition thus improving their overall well-being.