We all want our furkids to live forever. February is heart health month, and here are things you can do to help your pet's heart health.
February is heart health month! Our heart organ (or muscle) has a vital job. The heart helps keep our bodies upright, our lungs breathing, blood pumping, and keeping us alive using our autonomic nervous system! However, some conditions impair the heart's function that is important to note. Whether conditions surface with dog or cat age or breed-specific genetic disorders, it is best to have the heart checked with a wellness exam from your veterinarian or specialist to help with assessment. The first place to start these veterinary wellness scans is to assess the heart for a murmur, fluid retention, enlargement, parasites, or genetic predispositions that may arise. Yearly wellness scans should be scheduled as recommended by your veterinarian.
1. Feed Your Dog Or Cat A Healthy & Balanced Diet
First and foremost, feeding a species-appropriate diet is critical. Having your pet eat the correct food and nutrients is a great place to start. In addition, adding supportive and heart-healthy food options is essential. You can do this by adding leafy greens (such as Green Juju) or raw heart organ meat found in our frozen aisle. Avoiding foods with added salts and sugars is also necessary. Feeding healthy fats is also great for the heart. Adding fiber to the diet may also help with being a supportive measure to the heart. Using unsaturated fats for heart health and avoiding saturated fats (solid fats at room temperature) and rancid fats are ideal (these bad fats can be sprayed on grocery store kibble pieces at the end of production based on the manufacturer).
2. Do Not Feed Your Pet Processed Foods
Next is avoiding refined carbohydrates and processed foods. What constitutes processed food, you wonder? Most dry food made for cats and dogs is processed and made into a slurry then extruded into the cooked pellets known as kibble. It is impossible to make kibble without a carbohydrate source as that is the foundation for the ingredients for the end product. Any time you can add up to 30% fresh food along with dry food, you are adding bioavailable fuel and nutrients to your pet's body. Cats and dogs have a digestive system that is ready and able to digest fresh, real food, and it's much more taxing on their organs to digest only dry kibble-style foods for their entire lifespan. Avoiding food choices that contain chemical additives and food colorings found in many foods is also helpful.
3. Read Labels & Know What Is In Your Dog & Cat Food
Now you would think that these naughty ingredients that are bad for the heart would be something you wouldn't find in the pet industry when it comes to food and treats. However, there are plenty of suspect ingredients in many grocery store brands of pet food and brands using waste from the human food industry. Did you know there is a brand of dog food that uses leftover bakery items such as bread and cakes as the food binder? Disheartening for sure (pun intended), but it happens for the sake of pocketbooks. Many ingredients have multiple names than what we may call a generic ingredient, making it difficult for pet parents to understand the ingredient panel.
4. Provide Exercise For Your Pet
Reducing stress and anxiety is also highly beneficial. Working on a daily routine of exercise and stress management can be a bonus for all household members. Dogs and cats are energetic sponges of our human emotions; if we are stressed out, then it is likely they will also be anxious. Daily exercise is a great way to work out the circulatory system, move blood throughout the body and get oxygen to the cells. Encouraging some mental stimulation through an interactive toy or enrichment mat is another great alternative to reducing anxiety in pets. Humans often know what it is like to experience stress, anxiety, or even situational anxiety. If you feel your dog or cat is also exhibiting severe panic attacks, it would be worth chatting with one of our team members for a supplement recommendation or a nutrition consult.
5. Include Safe Heart Herbs For Your Dog or Cat
Many herbs can support the heart if there is a diagnosed condition regarding your pet's heart. Herbs can help reduce anxiety, support the heart's physical function, work on healing an emotional heart from grief or loss, and use external remedies such as essential oils. Herbs can also act as a diuretic if fluid buildup around the heart and lungs. Fluid buildup can lead to coughing, heavy breathing, and even a change in your dog's routine. Homeopathic remedies are also known to help with heart ailments.
Heart Symptoms that you should watch for may indicate a deeper rooted issue:
- Chronic, deep, whooping cough
- Out of breath from any activity
- Paleness or blueness of gums and tongue
- Resistance to normal daily activities or exercise
- Fainting or can't stand for long periods
- Gasping for breath
- Bloating around midsection from water retention
- Change in eating habits or water consumption
It is always important to look at the pet in front of you. Every pet may display symptoms differently than the next, and there isn't a fixes-all approach. If there is a diagnosed heart ailment, you may need to combine eastern and western medicine with supporting your cat or dog. If you have further questions, any of our staff members can help you find the right option for your pets! Visit us at our retail store in Madison Heights, Michigan, or visit our natural pet food, treats, toys, and supply store online to learn more.