A surprise to many pet parents, heart issues in cats and dogs are almost as common as they are for humans.
Veterinarians are seeing a rise in heart conditions among their patients – and that has them concerned.
Dogs as young as five years of age can be affected, and concerns increase dramatically with age. Up to 75% of senior dogs have some type of heart condition.
It’s estimated that up to 15% of cats in the U.S. have some type of heart condition. Cats can be born with heart issues or they can develop over time.
The number two cause of death in dogs, and the most common cause of sudden death in cats, heart issues can be hereditary or acquired.
Researchers believe the vast majority, or 95%, of issues are acquired. That means they develop over your pet’s lifetime.
Acquired changes can result from injury or infection, or normal wear and tear of the heart muscle or valves of the heart.
As common as heart issues may be, most of the time you don’t know changes are happening in your cat or dog, especially in the earlier stages. When you are unaware, you’re not likely to act.
However, by knowing your pet may be at risk, there is much you can do to help support your pet’s heart health. Most importantly, maintain your pet’s weight in her optimal range. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is overweight. Sadly, many dogs and cats today are.
Next, support your cat or dog with the appropriate nutrition. I’ll provide you with my recommendations for diet and tell you about a unique blend of antioxidants, amino acids and other beneficial plant compounds that can support your pet’s heart health.
An ounce of prevention now has the potential to reap significant benefits later, when your pet needs it the most.
A Close-up View of Your Pet’s Heart
Cats’ and dogs’ hearts are divided into four functional parts, which include the:
- Heart muscle which pumps blood throughout the body
- Heart valves which direct blood flow in the proper direction
- Pericardium, the tough membrane that envelops and protects the heart
- Electrical conducting system which keeps the heart beating in a coordinated manner
Various heart conditions, either inherited or acquired, can affect any or all of these components.
Here are some common heart concerns that can affect cats and dogs:
- Enlargement or thickening of the heart (this is the most common heart condition seen in cats)
- Weakening of the heart muscle
- Buildup of scar tissue on the inner lining and muscle of the heart
- Congenital malformation or acquired deterioration of the valves (heart murmur), allowing the blood to leak backwards and increase the load on the heart
- Circulatory or blood flow issues (common condition in dogs)
Many of the changes develop slowly, over months and years with few outward signs of declining heart function.
While some heart concerns may be preventable, some aren’t. But, by supporting your pet’s heart health and lifestyle factors, you may be able to help slow the progression of changes and their long-term effects.
Which Pets Are Most at Risk for Heart Conditions?
Certain breeds are more susceptible than others to heart conditions at an earlier age, but any dog or cat can develop changes that naturally occur with age.
With congenital heart conditions, genetics are mostly to blame. Inherited cardiac issues affect both small and large dog breeds. Seven canine breeds more likely to be impacted by genetic conditions include:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Miniature and Toy Poodles
- Doberman Pinschers
- Golden Retrievers
- Miniature Schnauzers
A full 50% of Cavaliers have detectable heart issues by age 5. Dobermans, especially males, should be screened twice yearly starting at age 4 for heart conditions. All of the breeds in the above list should be monitored closely for changes starting at an early age.
Several breeds of cats are also genetically predisposed to heart conditions:
- Maine Coon
- American Shorthair
- British Shorthair
As you can see from this list of predisposed cat breeds, it includes most kitties. That may be why more cats than dogs exhibit signs of heart conditions during their lifetimes.
The Hidden Heart Crisis in Cats
Because kitties are such masters at concealing health issues, a heart concern often remains hidden until it becomes a crisis. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In the wild, any type of weakness makes an animal stand out to its predators.
On the outside, your cat may appear healthy. If a heart issue is brewing, you’re unlikely to know until he or she begins to show more advanced signs. All you may notice at first is a decreased appetite, or your cat sleeping or hiding more. Issues often arise around middle age.
So, what can you do to support your kitty’s heart health and function?
Most importantly, feed your cat a human-grade, meat-based diet, without grains and unnecessary carbohydrates.
Cats need meat-based protein for a healthy heart, and plenty of it. They don’t need carbs.
Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats and they require large amounts of it in their diets. Fresh food diets rich in organ and muscle meats contain abundant, naturally occurring taurine.
Crucial for heart and eye health, taurine is routinely added to commercial cat food, but not always in sufficient quantity to meet feline needs. Cats can easily become taurine deficient if they don’t get enough in their diets.
Certain types of cat foods that meet AAFCO nutritional requirements have been found to be low in taurine. These include dry kibble and semi-moist pouched food.
Besides recommending avoiding feeding your cat these types of foods, I also suggest providing extra taurine if your cat may be at risk for heart concerns.
The Silent Link Between Diet and Heart Health
Researchers have made an interesting discovery in recent years – the canine heart is very similar to the human cardiovascular system.
One area in which they are strikingly similar is the significant role diet plays in heart health.
For humans, processed junk food with excessive carbohydrates are a known factor for heart concern risk.
For dogs and cats, it’s not very different...
Biologically inappropriate, highly processed pet food, also with too many unnecessary carbs – the equivalent of junk food for pets – may raise the risk for heart issues.
The sad truth is, way too many dogs and cats are eating a junk food diet their entire lives.
Most dry pet food, or kibble, is a blend of poor-quality meats, byproducts and feed-grade vitamins and minerals. In addition, most kibble contains high-glycemic, genetically engineered (GE) corn, wheat, rice or potato.
The pet food industry wants you to believe that carbohydrates are not only good for your pet, they’re an “essential nutrient.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Grains and carbohydrates have no place in a carnivore’s diet as they can cause unhealthy spikes in your pet’s insulin, glucagon and cortisol throughout the day.
Is Commercial Grain-Free Pet Food Any Better?
Because a carnivore like your dog or cat has no dietary need for grains and his digestive system can’t even handle them properly, it would make sense to feed him a grain-free diet, right?
Twenty years ago, grain-free pet food emerged as an alternative to the corn, rice and wheat that was being used in pet foods.
Initially, some veterinarians thought the switch to grain-free might be a good thing. However, within a few years, they started noticing some troubling changes in their patients’ health.
Many pet owners don’t realize it, but grain-free processed food isn’t carbohydrate- or starch-free. In fact, grain-free pet foods are heavy in starch and some contain even more carbs than regular pet food.
Not only are veterinarians seeing weight gain and rising insulin levels in their patients consuming grain-free diets, they are also seeing cardiac issues. Whether they’re connected hasn’t been established.
However, there is the potential that some of the ingredients in grain-free kibble may be creating dietary deficiencies – specifically taurine and carnitine, two amino acids found primarily in muscle tissue.
The high carbs in grain-free pet food may deplete taurine levels or possibly make the nutrient less bioavailable or useable.
Plus, the high-heat extrusion process used to make kibble creates byproducts that can cause a chemical reaction between the amino acids and carbs in the food. This may degrade the taurine and alter your pet’s microbiome, or gut bacteria.
Two More Reasons Why Beans, Peas and Lentils Don’t Belong in Your Pet’s Food Bowl
Up until 20 years ago, pet food included primarily rice, wheat or corn. With the advent of grain-free food, manufacturers started adding peas, lentils, tapioca, garbanzos (chickpeas) and other beans, and white potatoes to pet food formulas.
In essence, pet food became even more biologically inappropriate.
Not only are legumes and similar starches very high in carbohydrates, they’re added to pet food in place of meat to boost protein levels. However, peas, beans, lentils and white potatoes are not acceptable substitutes for meat.
So, your pet receives food that may be missing the amino acids he needs for his cardiovascular health.
That’s not the only problem... Grain-free foods contain anti-nutrients, such as lectins and phytates, that can interfere with the absorption of taurine and other important nutrients.
Beet pulp is another ingredient that shouldn’t be in your pet’s food. This unnecessary filler binds bile acids in the small intestine and increases their excretion. Because bile acids recycle needed taurine, beet pulp can lower your pet’s total body taurine levels.
In summary, there are three aspects of these inappropriate foods that can put your pet’s heart health at risk:
- The high levels of starchy carbohydrates
- The low levels of high-quality protein
- The extreme high-heat processing methods used to create kibble and other commercial pet foods.
I recommend supplementing all dogs with high-taurine foods or extra taurine, no matter what type of food you feed your pet.
And of course, the best grain-free food you can provide is a fresh, nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet. Fresh, living foods have an abundance of enzymes, fragile fatty acids and phytonutrients that are lost with any type of processing.
Why Your Pet Needs Plentiful Antioxidants for a Healthy Heart
So, how can you help support your pet’s optimal heart health as they age?
Oxidative stress, or the physiological stress on the body caused by excess free radicals, can damage heart cells and tissues.
Here’s how it happens... Unstable free radicals with uneven numbers of electrons travel around your pet's body seeking stable molecules to bond with. By stealing an electron from a stable molecule, an unstable free radical stabilizes itself.
However, in the process of stabilizing themselves, they create new unstable molecules with uneven numbers of electrons, resulting in oxidative stress.
Antioxidants have a neutralizing effect on free radicals, so they help protect your pet’s heart and other organs from the oxidative stress that can lead to damage.
Studies show that using a combination of antioxidant compounds with complementary effects, rather than just a single compound, is more effective in supporting heart health.
That awareness led me and my team to formulate Heart Health for Cats & Dogs, a unique blend of ingredients to support cardiovascular health. It includes:
- Antioxidants from multiple sources
- Important amino acids, like taurine and carnitine
- Other beneficial plant compounds
Let’s take a look at each of these ingredients...
12 Active Ingredients with Pet-Friendly Organic Cheddar Cheese for Supporting Your Pet’s Heart Health
Our Heart Health for Cats & Dogs contains several sources of human-grade antioxidants, amino acids and other beneficial nutrients that many dogs and cats need for cardiovascular health.
- Rutin (from the flower bud of Sophora japonica, or Japanese Pagoda tree)
A bioflavonoid or plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties, naturally occurring rutin supports blood vessel health and blood circulation.
An amino acid found primarily in muscle meat, concentrations are highest in your pet’s heart, muscles, brain and retina. The main source of taurine is found in your pet’s diet. Taurine supports cardiovascular, eye and immune health.
This amino acid acts as a precursor for key metabolites, like glutathione and creatine, and supports cardiovascular health and overall well-being of animals and humans.
- Organic Hawthorn Berry Fruit
Acting as an antioxidant bioflavonoid, hawthorn supports optimal circulation to the ventricles of the heart. Multiple studies show it promotes exercise tolerance and supports overall cardiovascular health in dogs and cats.
A sugar molecule that’s part of your pet’s DNA and cells’ primary energy source, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), D-ribose supports heart function and energy production in heart muscle.
- Trimethylglycine (TMG)
A plant compound also known as betaine, TMG may help cells adapt to stress and support their energy production. TMG also supports healthy blood flow and blood vessel health.
Comprised of the amino acids lysine and methionine, L-carnitine is produced in your pet’s liver and kidneys and stored in heart, brain and skeletal muscle tissues. It plays a key role in fat metabolism, allowing fat to be utilized for energy production for heart function.
- Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) (from Decaffeinated Green Tea Leaf Extract)
A polyphenolic component of green tea with the caffeine removed, EGCG offers powerful antioxidant benefits. It’s easily absorbed into all body tissues to support healthy cells.
- Pomegranate Fruit Extract
This extract possesses strong antioxidant and protective qualities to support cell and gut health in animals.
- d-Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E from non-GMO sunflower)
The most active form of vitamin E, d-alpha tocopherol functions as a potent antioxidant that helps protect heart cells and tissues against oxidative stress in dogs and cats. Plus, it supports circulation and healthy red blood cell walls.
- Pine Bark Extract
From the bark of Pinus radiata, this pine bark is rich in total phenols and naturally occurring chemicals called proanthocyanidins. The extract acts as a powerful antioxidant to support heart tissue and muscle health.
Converted to the active form niacinamide by intestinal bacteria, niacin supports healthy blood levels of lipoproteins, such as LDL, and triglycerides.
All of these carefully selected ingredients work together to support your pet’s heart function and overall cardiovascular health.
And to ensure your cat or dog will look forward to this exceptional Heart Health formula, we’ve blended the nutrients into a delicious base of Certified Organic Cheddar Cheese powder.
Ubiquinol and Heart Health for Cats & Dogs – The Perfect Combo for Ultimate Cardiovascular Support
I always recommend Ubiquinol, the reduced, active form of CoQ10, to support heart health in dogs and cats.
Ubiquinol is a powerhouse, providing energy to the cells of every organ in the body, especially to the heart. It works as an antioxidant and provides powerful support for the cells’ mitochondria – the energy factories inside cells.
Our Ubiquinol for Cats & Dogs works synergistically with Heart Health, but in its own unique way.
While Ubiquinol provides mitochondrial support for your pet’s heart energy production, Heart Health provides support for the heart muscle. It supports the electrical and physiological aspects of the heart muscle structure.
I recommend Heart Health to support optimal heart health in these groups of cats and dogs:
- High-risk breeds (start when your pet is still a kitten or puppy)
- Athletic and hard-working pets
- All cats and dogs over the age of 7
- Any cat or dog with a heart health concern
- Any cat or dog eating kibble (and semi-moist pouched food)
Give Yourself the Gift of Peace of Mind... Order Heart Health for Cats & Dogs
The good news is, you can provide your pet with the support he or she may need with our Heart Health for Cats & Dogs. An ounce of prevention now has the potential to reap significant benefits later, when your pet could use it the most.
Our unique blend of antioxidants, amino acids and other beneficial plant compounds supports the health of your pet’s entire cardiovascular system, whether he's a puppy or a senior.
Order our Heart Health for Cats & Dogs today, and for the ultimate in cardiac support, use it with Ubiquinol for Cats & Dogs. They’re designed to work together to provide your pet with the worry-free support you can trust.
Give your pet the heart health support he or she deserves, and order today.