How to keep your pet's heart healthy

How to keep your pet's heart healthy

The idea of a beloved cat or dog becoming ill is every pet owner’s worst nightmare. We all adore our animals, and we value their health and happiness above all else.

Sometimes, our pets developing heart problems is inevitable. Just like with humans, animals can be born with heart defects or genetic predispositions. Certain breeds, like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and cats like Maine Coons, have an increased likelihood to develop various heart diseases simply due to their biological make up.

That said, there are certainly things you can do to aid your companion. Highlighting nutritional needs, diet and exercise, the following guide will outline how to keep your pet’s heart healthy.

 

Maintaining a healthy weight

 

Cat stretching out over chair

One of the most important aspects of pet health is ensuring that your cat or dog is maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity is one of the leading causes of pet heart problems, and has seen a worrying increase in recent years. Pets are not biologically suited to carrying large amounts of weight, which is why their body and organs will be under particular strain, with the heart experiencing the most stress.

Follow our guide on how to help your pet’s lose weight to get your cat or canine back into shape before it begins to negatively impact their health in the long term.

 

Regular exercise

Dog on the grass with a stick in its mouth

Exercise is a vital component to the health of your cat or dog, and is unparalleled as a means to keep their bodies fit, healthy, and to reduce the stress on their organs. As well as helping to maintain a healthy weight, it also ensures that your pet is agile and has huge physical benefits.

For dogs, stick to regular walking regimes, and remember that various breeds require different levels of physical activity. Adjust this as necessary, doing the same for older or younger pets or based on vet recommendations; for example, over-exercising an older dog will instead have adverse effects on their heart.

 

Diet and nutrition

AATU Super 8 combination collage.

Diet is another essential component in maintaining your pet’s heart health. Plenty of pet food is packed out with bulk products, including artificial flavours, preservatives and GM products. Here at AATU, nutrition is key, and our bespoke combination of the Super 8 recipe as well as an 80/20, or 85/15 meat ratio for dogs and cats respectively, has been engineered specifically to target physical health.

Our recipe takes a holistic approach, combining high quality meats with fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and botanicals, because we believe in utilising natural ingredients and extracting their health benefits for your pet. There’s a wealth of healthy nutrients that you can garner from these natural products, and each has been carefully selected based on these.

 

Fruits

Many of the fruits which we include in our recipes are high in Vitamins C and E, which are powerful antioxidants offering the heart natural protection. This includes oranges, blueberries, cranberries and pears, as well as cowberries which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for helping with heart disease.

 

Vegetables

More antioxidants are found in tapioca and tomato, the latter of which is also rich in potassium, an important component of cell and body fluids which helps to control heart rate and blood pressure. Carrots are also included, which contain high levels of beta-carotene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants.

 

Herbs

Marjoram is also high in potassium, as well as magnesium. Spirulina contains the highest concentration of beta-carotene, as well as the essential fatty acid GLA. Important oils are found in peppermint, as well as vitamins and dietary fibres which contribute to a levelled cholesterol and healthy blood pressure.

 

Spices and Botanicals

Lucerne is also rich in beta-carotene, as is rosehip which is also another high source of Vitamin C. Marigold improves blood flow, while Fenugreek is a remarkable herb which is thought to have a significant impact on preventing disease due to its antioxidants. Aniseed is also mineral-rich, and the minerals it contains are essential to cardiac and blood health.

 

Other essentials

Cat sitting in the grass

Taurine is one of the most vital amino acids, particularly for heart health; it enables the heart to contract and pump the blood around the body.

While dogs can produce it themselves, there have been cases of taurine deficiency leading to serious heart problems and diseases. Cats on the other hand are unable to produce it themselves biologically - they need to get it from their food. Taurine is only found in animal-based protein; our products have a high meat content to ensure a high level of natural taurine, and we also add additional taurine to many of our products.

L-carnitine is a nutrient that lends a hand in heart function; carnitine deficiencies can cause problems in energy production and even lead to heart failure, which is why we supplement it in our food.

 

Dental care

Where diet and exercise seem like more obvious contributions to heart health - or heart disease - there are lesser known causes of heart problems in cats and dogs. When pets develop dental disease, the infected bacteria and plaque that builds on their teeth and gums can break away and enter the bloodstream. If it makes its way to the heart, it can cause endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart’s inner lining. Otherwise, it can cause a clogging of the arteries, which is one of the leading causes of heart disease.

Pets, and in particular dogs, need regular dental care. There are dental toys and chews that will help maintain oral hygiene and health, or even toothpaste and brushes for pooches.

 

Grooming and general care

Here’s another one. Grooming your pet regularly is an opportunity to check their coats and bodies for any out of the ordinary physical ailments. In particular, it’s the perfect opportunity to check for parasites and other unwanted guests, who can cause infection or bacterial build up with bites that put gradual stress on the heart.

Heartworm disease, usually transmitted through mosquitoes, is accountable for a huge percentage of heart disease cases in dogs.

 

Vet visits

Dog sleeping on bed

Which brings us to our final point - regular vet checks.

Although there are outward signs of heart disease - fatigue, weight gain, and shortness of breath - heart conditions can often go unnoticed until it’s too late, particularly with cats, who reputably show fewer visible symptoms. Pets can’t tell us outwardly what’s wrong with them, and we may not always pick up on the physical indications.

Frequently visiting a vet for check-ups will ensure that your pet is thoroughly screened, and often will allow you to catch any problems early on. And if you do notice any dramatic changes in the demeanor of your cat or dog, book an appointment and get them checked.

We hope that this has helped! We always love to hear about your pets, so make sure to connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and always feel free to drop us a picture of your own cat or canine enjoying their AATU dinner - just like Rocky:

Dog sitting beside AATU Duck food