Heart issues definition:

Even though our pets are not at risk from heart attacks like people, heart disease, heart weakness or enlargement, or congestive heart failure and other circulatory problems are common in aging cats and dogs and can gradually worsen over time.

How it affects pets:

The general symptoms of heart disease vary from one individual dog to the next but can include fatigue or weakness, increased panting, reduced stamina or willingness to exercise, lethargy and increased time spent sleeping during the day. Reduced appetite and weight loss as well as a gray tinge to the gums and a distended abdomen are also warning signs that there is a problem with the heart.


The role of the heart muscle is to relax and contract, and pump blood through the circulatory system to the lungs, throughout the body and back through the heart again. Problems occur when certain parts of the heart stop functioning correctly. The rest of the organ then tries to compensate for this improper function. Certain breeds are more predisposed to heart disease than others and lean, active animals are at a generally reduced risk of heart disease than those who are inactive and obese.

What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?

A healthy, well-balanced, varied diet is important for overall health. Sodium is generally restricted in the diets of pets who are suffering from heart disease. A low-sodium diet can help to reduce water retention, an issue for those pets with congestive heart failure. The minerals zinc, magnesium, chromium, and selenium are necessary for a healthy heart. Supplementing the diet with fish oils, which supply essential fatty acids, can help to prevent or reduce the severity of heart disease in pets.

The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E are helpful for overall health and the prevention of heart disease. Co-Q10 is used for the support of heart function and may help to prevent heart disease including cardiomyopathy, enlarged heart and irregular or rapid heart-beat.

The amino acid Taurine is vital for heart health. Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats but dogs can make their own Taurine. Taurine supplementation is often recommended for dogs predisposed to or suffering from, heart disease. Taurine is naturally present in meat and fish, especially organs.

Other modalities to consider:

Homeopathy can be a useful adjunct to other approaches. Consider Calcarea Fluorica, a cell salt, to restore elasticity to the veins and muscles.

An appropriate amount of regular exercise is very important to maintain heart health.

Hawthorn herbal tincture is safe in large doses and can be used daily. Cayenne Pepper is also recommended for heart health, as is ginko, ginger, gotu kola, as well as Bilberry and the Chinese herb fo-ti.

To find holistic help with your pet's dental issues, see our list of integrative veterinarians and holistic practitioners.

Diets that meet some of the parameters vets suggest:

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