Dog Blog

Heart Disease & Diet in Dogs

Our best friends bring joy and warmth to our lives, and as responsible pet owners, it’s our duty to ensure they lead healthy, happy lives. One crucial aspect of their well-being is their heart health. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from heart disease, and diet plays a significant role in prevention and management. In this blog, we’ll explore the connection between heart disease and diet in dogs, discuss key nutritional factors for foods for dogs with heart disease, and ultimately decide whether Wild Earth is a good option for these dogs.  

Understanding Canine Heart Disease

Heart disease in dogs encompasses a multitude of conditions that affect the heart and its ability to function effectively. The most common types of heart disease in dogs are dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD), pericardial disease, congenital heart disease and arrhythmias. While the cause and treatment for each differs, diet plays a role in both supporting dogs with certain types of heart disease and certainly in maintaining overall heart health. 

The Role of Diet in Canine Heart Health

If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, your veterinarian will offer guidance as to which diet is best for your dog. Depending on the type of heart disease, some dogs may be able to eat any diet while others may have certain restrictions. Even more, some dogs may benefit from specialized prescription diets formulated to support cardiac health, especially if your dog has congestive heart failure. These diets typically contain reduced sodium and controlled levels of other nutrients to ease the heart’s workload. These nutrients will be discussed below. We have also included the levels in Wild Earth dog food for your knowledge as well as your veterinarian’s. This will help you both better decide whether Wild Earth may be an appropriate diet for your dog.

Nutrients of concern for dogs with congestive heart failure include: 

  1. Protein: Dogs require a balance of high-quality proteins in their diet to support muscle health, but excessive protein intake may not be suitable for dogs with heart conditions. Typical veterinary prescription diets for heart disease contain 16%-27% crude protein.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: 31% on a dry matter basis
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: 25.5% on a dry matter basis
  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, can benefit heart health by reducing inflammation and supporting normal heart function. Choosing a food with guaranteed levels of omega-3 fatty acids is a good starting place. You may also want to supplement your dog’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids which are found in algae. At Wild Earth we do guarantee levels of omega-3 fatty acids so you know your dog is getting the amount they need.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: 1% on a dry matter basis
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: 1% on a dry matter basis
  1. Legumes: Although a clear connection has not been made, your veterinarian may recommend avoiding diets with legumes as they have been associated with dilated cardiomyopathy.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: No legumes
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: No legumes
  1. Sodium: Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a crucial role in maintaining normal heart function. However, excessive intake of sodium can lead to fluid retention and increased strain on the heart. To protect your dog’s heart, opt for dog foods with controlled sodium levels. The ideal range for sodium in a food for dogs with heart disease is 0.08 to 0.25% on a dry matter basis depending on the stage of disease and supporting medications. Speak with your veterinarian to determine the ideal target for your dog.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: 0.2% on a dry matter basis
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: 0.1% on a dry matter basis
  1. Taurine: Taurine is an amino acid that is essential for heart health in dogs. A deficiency in taurine has been linked to certain heart diseases, such as dilated cardiomyopathy. To ensure your dog receives an adequate amount of taurine, choose dog foods that contain high-quality protein sources and/or taurine supplementation.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: Supplemented
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: Supplemented
  1. L-Carnitine: L-Carnitine is another amino acid that plays a role in energy metabolism and heart health. Some dog breeds are predisposed to L-carnitine deficiency, which can contribute to heart disease. Dog foods formulated with added L-carnitine can be beneficial, especially for at-risk breeds. Look for a food with supplemented L-Carnitine.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: Supplemented
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: Supplemented
  1. Phosphorus: High levels of phosphorus can lead to mineral imbalances and exacerbate heart disease in dogs. Choosing dog foods with controlled phosphorus content is essential for dogs with heart conditions. Aim for a phosphorus level of 0.2 – 0.52% on a dry matter basis. It is important to note that some prescription foods for heart disease have a phosphorus up to 0.91% on a dry matter basis.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: 1% on a dry matter basis
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: 1% on a dry matter basis
  1. Potassium: Potassium is essential for maintaining normal heart rhythm, and is important for overall heart health. If your dog has congestive heart failure, it is recommended to feed a food with 0.4% – 0.52% potassium on a dry matter basis. Supplementation may be necessary if your dog is on certain diuretics.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: 0.7% on a dry matter basis
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: 0.8% on a dry matter basis
  1. Magnesium: Magnesium also contributes to maintaining a healthy heart rhythm. Ensure that your dog’s food contains an appropriate level of magnesium to support heart health. The ideal amount of magnesium for a dog with heart disease is more than 0.06% on a dry matter basis.
  • Wild Earth Performance Formula: 0.2% on a dry matter basis
  • Wild Earth Maintenance Formula: 0.2% on a dry matter basis

Again, the recommended levels of these nutrients are primarily for those dogs suffering from congestive heart failure. The recommended levels for dogs with other types of heart disease will vary, and it is best to speak with your veterinarian as they know your dog best. 

Always Consult With Your Veterinarian

It’s essential to remember that each dog is unique, and their dietary needs may vary based on their age, breed, size, and specific health conditions. Regular visits to the veterinarian are crucial to monitor your dog’s heart health and receive tailored dietary guidance. A veterinarian can assess your dog’s overall condition, recommend specific diets if necessary, and adjust the diet as your pet’s health evolves.

Want More Helpful Pet Parent Articles?

Sign up today for more tips & tricks written by our in-house veterinarian!

Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA

Dr. Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva is the Professional Services Veterinarian here at Wild Earth. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Brown University, and attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in general practice, on telehealth platforms, and in animal rehabilitation. She has worked tirelessly to gain expertise in the field of canine nutrition through numerous certifications and coursework, and plans to pursue her Masters in Animal Nutrition.

More on Dog Blog Dog Knowledge: