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3 Ways Heart Problems in Dogs Will Change Your Daily Routine

Know the Steps You’ll Need to Take to Manage Your Dog’s Condition

By Sam Bourne. February 07, 2014 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Yellow Lab at the Vet

Canine heart disease is a serious problem, but one that can be dealt with if detected early enough. The treatment and management of this condition might require some substantial changes to the way you live with your dog.

Heart disease is a serious problem for anybody. The heart is an integral part to normal bodily function, and when it starts acting up, it can cause a great amount of distress. Thankfully, if caught in time, most heart problems in dogs can be treated, allowing your dog to resume a near-normal quality of life.

So what lifestyle changes will be needed?

1. Medication

If your dog is diagnosed with heart disease, chances are they will be put on some type of medication to help them regain normal heart function. There are a plethora of drug types effective in the treatment of heart disease (diuretics, ACE inhibitors, anti-arrythmics, inodilators, positive inotropes), but no matter what your vet prescribes to your dog, the medication will need to be administered every day.

How it affects your life

Once you and your vet find the medication that works best for your dog, which depends on the progress, symptoms, and type of heart disease, you will need to keep enough of the medication on hand to give your dog a dose every day. This means routine trips to the vet to get refills on the prescription, and if you are worried about the mounting cost, you will want to shop around for the best price on your dog’s meds.

You will also need to find an effective way to give your dog their medicine. Dogs, despite their reputation for eating anything, are not particularly fond of the bitter taste of most pills. Some pet parents try to hide the pill inside a ball of meat, while others use the direct delivery method. Since this will become a routine experience, find out what works best for your dog and stick to it. And if your vet gives the OK, give your dog a treat afterwards to help create a positive association with pill time.

2. Diet

Another factor of heart disease treatment is diet. Make sure to avoid foods that are known to exacerbate a heart condition. Excess sodium and trans fats should be avoided, as they are known for putting a strain on the heart. Other ingredients like B vitamins, Omega-3, magnesium, taurine, and carnitine can help bolster heart health.

How it affects your life

No more feeding them the cheap stuff. In order to find foods that can help reduce the effects of your dog’s wonky heart, you are probably going to have to start looking in the gourmet section, or even get your dog a prescription dog food. Depending on what your vet suggests, you may also want to consider putting your dog on some supplements.

You'll also need to stop feeding your dog from the table, so your vet can better regulate your dog's diet.

3. Exercise

An unhealthy weight it a common cause of heart problems in people and in dogs. And even if your dog is not packing on extra pounds, some daily exercise is one of the best ways to make sure their ticker keeps running on time. Just make sure to not go too hard on your dog -- that means if you notice your dog is starting to get tired, give them plenty of time to recover before resuming play.

How it affects your life

Looks like you are going to be spending a little extra time walking and playing with your dog. Hopefully this is not a massive life change, and will be fun for everyone.

More on Keeping Your Dog Healthy

Getting Your Dog to Lose Weight
5 Facts on Heart Disease in Dogs
A Joint Health Exercise Routine for Dogs
Natural Pain Relief for Dogs: What Are My Options?

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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