How Proper Nutrition Can Assist Dogs With Heart Disease and Diabetes
by Cate Burnette, RVT
A veterinary diagnosis of heart disease or diabetes in your dog can be devastating for pet parents. Not only are you at risk for losing your beloved pet prematurely, often dog owners don’t know how to feed their pets so that they get the proper nutrition to avert some of the signs and symptoms common to the illnesses, increase organ function, and avoid the complications inherent in either disease.
Many of the medications used to treat canine heart disease decrease blood levels of potassium, putting the dog at risk for heart arrhythmias and weaker heart muscle contractions. This can also decrease blood flow to other body organs, resulting in possible kidney or liver failure. Frequent monitoring of your dog’s levels of potassium and feeding her all-natural dog foods containing supplemental potassium, you can increase levels of this needed mineral when necessary.
L-carnitine, found in high quality, all-natural foods, aids in the energy production of the cells, particularly the muscle cells of the heart. L-carnitine deficiency has been associated with heart disease in both humans and dogs and supplementation with the vitamin-like chemical suggests a beneficial affect for dogs with cardiac arrhythmias and thickening of the heart muscle.
As congestive heart failure progresses, the formation of “free radicals” (reactive molecules created during oxygen metabolism) increases heart cell damage. By supplementing your dog’s diet with foods containing Vitamins C and E, you can lessen that cell damage and increase heart function.
Dietary control is of immediate concern to those pet owners whose dogs have been diagnosed with diabetes. A consistent diet is necessary to successful management of the disease through regulation of the glucose supply in the body, thus avoiding hyperglycemia and subsequent complications associated with diabetes. Additionally, a stable, ideal body weight needs to be maintained while the affected dog receives necessary nutrients.
You’ll want to look for foods high in protein with a restricted fat content. You’ll also want to find a food containing plenty of natural fruits and vegetables – “slow release” carbohydrates that provide energy and extra fiber. This type of food provides nutrients necessary for healing and cell growth without raising blood glucose levels.
Foods enriched with Vitamins C, E, and B-complex provide the anti-oxidant properties necessary for keeping diabetic dogs healthy, while an enhanced mineral content of manganese, calcium, and zinc help increase the immune system. Additionally, glucosamine and chondroitin-based, all-natural supplements can help with joint mobility as your diabetic dog ages.
Consult with your veterinarian on ways to naturally supplement your pet so that she can live a long, happy, relatively healthy life even with heart disease or diabetes.