Heart disease affects us and can affect our dogs too. Although you may not be able to prevent heart disease in all cases, there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of heart disease later in life for your dog. Here are a few ways to keep your dog’s heart healthy:
1. Visit the Vet Regularly
Early detection and prevention are key for keeping your dog healthy. This makes visiting the vet regularly an essential part of keeping your dog’s heart healthy along with the rest of their body.
Staying on schedule and making sure your puppy is seeing the vet for all of their puppy visits ensures your puppy is growing the way they should. Plus, if anything does start happening, your vet can catch it early and work with you to help your puppy feel better or get back on track.
After that, biannual checkups are ideal. This is even more important as your dog ages and enters their senior years. Regular vet visits in addition to care and monitoring at home can help keep your dog healthy.
2. Feed Your Dog the Right Diet
The right amount of food and the type of food that is best for your dog may vary. If there are specific things your dog needs, your vet will be able to help you determine what those things might be and how you can help your dog get the nutrients they need.
Just as in humans, a nutritious, balanced diet goes a long way in heart health and overall health. In addition to heart health, a well-balanced diet supports your dog’s organ functions, affects their skin and coat, can contribute to joint health.
In general, you want to make sure that your dog isn’t taking in too much sodium, is getting enough omega 3 fatty acids, and is getting the other nutrients they need. This is all part of choosing the best dog food for your dog, so make sure you’re paying attention to nutrition labels.
3. Make Sure They Get Enough Exercise
A tired dog is a happy dog and is also often a well-behaved one. Destructive behaviors are often one of the signs your dog isn’t getting enough exercise. On top of that, your dog may become overweight and start to experience other health issues caused by a lack of regular exercise.
You don’t want to overexercise your dog, but you want to make sure they are getting enough daily movement to help keep them healthy. You also want to make sure you’re not damaging a puppy’s developing bones and joints by doing too much too early. Puppies finish growing at different rates, but your vet can help you determine what and how much is good for your puppy when.
4. Don’t Overlook Dental Care
Another one of the ways to keep your dog’s heart healthy is to start practicing good dental care early and keeping it up throughout your dog’s life. Because dental care for dogs is still often overlooked, gum disease is one of the most common health issues in dogs and it can cause serious issues.
Not only does gum disease in dogs lead to tooth decay and tooth loss, but it can also lead to other serious health issues, including heart disease. Ideal dental care for dogs includes daily brushing or use of an enzyme toothpaste in addition to regular cleanings at the vet when needed.
5. Keep up With Heartworm Prevention
Heartworm in dogs has serious consequences if left untreated. The good news is that you can protect your dog from heartworm as long as you keep up with heartworm prevention. Work with your vet to test your dog for heartworm and get them on a consistent, year-round schedule of prevention.
This protects your dog from heartworm and is one of the best ways to keep your dog’s heart healthy. There are even heartworm preventatives that include protection from fleas and ticks, so it’s easy to help keep your dog healthy and protect them from harmful parasites.
6. Know the Signs of Heart Disease
Visiting the vet can help you catch signs of heart disease and other health issues early, but you still want to make sure you are keeping an eye out for health changes in your dog between visits. Although there can be genetic causes of heart disease in dogs, most cases develop due to infection, illness, or injury.
Still, it’s important to know the symptoms of heart disease so you can get to the vet if they pop up between visits. Symptoms of heart disease can include pale gums, shortness of breath, rapid weight loss, swollen abdomen, fatigue, and fainting. There may also be a dry cough after exercise or a cough that gets worse at night.
These symptoms do overlap with many other health conditions and temporary issues, so just because your dog is showing them does not necessarily mean they have a heart issue. But, these are also symptoms to never ignore in your dog. So, if you do see any of them, it is still important to visit your vet.
These are just a few ways to keep your dog’s heart healthy. Plus, in doing them for your dog, you can help improve your dog’s health overall for a longer, happier, and healthier life with them.