Heart Health for Pets

We all know that having a pet can be good for your heart, but it's just as important to help your dog or cat keep a healthy heart themselves. To celebrate American Heart (Health) Month this February, we're bringing you some of the essential tips for keeping your pet's heart in good shape. As with all pet health topics, you should check with your vet before implementing any of these heart-healthy ideas.

Serve a Heart-Healthy Diet

Keeping your pet's body weight in check is rule number 1. However, obesity isn't the only contributing factor to heart disease in dogs and cats. Some vets also suggest adding supplements to dog and cat food. CoQ10 has been gaining momentum as a human supplement for people taking statin medication for high cholesterol. Ask your vet whether a daily dose of 50 to 100 mg CoQ10 is right for your pet.

Some vets recommend adding the amino acid taurine to your pet's diet, too. While many commercially prepared pet foods contain taurine (or the tools to help your pet's body make it), you can consult with your vet about whether your dog or cat needs extra. If you are making your own pet food at home, you might want to include this supplement for optimum cardiovascular health.

Protect Pets From Pests

While a mosquito bite may be just a nuisance to you, it can be deadly for pets if the mosquito is a heartworm carrier. Dogs and cats - particularly those who spend time outside - can be protected from heartworm through a simple monthly heartworm treatment. Both dogs and cats are susceptible to heartworm, and the symptoms sometimes present as respiratory problems rather than heart failure. To further guard against mosquito bites, treat your pets monthly with flea, tick and mosquito repellent, too. This prevention method can also help your dog or cat avoid Lyme disease, skin conditions and other health woes.

Visit the Vet Regularly

This tip probably goes without saying, but we thought it helpful to remind you. Dogs and cats don't always tell us when they're suffering. If your pet is otherwise eating well, displaying energy and being affectionate, you might be tempted to skip his or her annual visit.

Definitely get your pet to your veterinarian as soon as possible if he or she displays any of these symptoms: coughing, sudden weight loss or weight gain, edema (swelling) - especially in the abdomen, difficulty breathing, or fainting. WebMD has slideshows about these common symptoms of heart disease in dogs and heart disease in cats.

As you spend time thinking about your heart health this February, take some time to think about your pet's heart health, too. You want to keep him or her with you as long as possible...it's good for the heart!

NJ STRAYS provides veterinary assistance to North Jersey pet owners in need as part of our Owner Surrender Prevention project.


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