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Heart Healthy Hounds

Ah, I love me some alliteration, don’t you?

So, for most of us, we spend a lot of time focusing on our dogs gut health, mobility and overall immunity- which is fabulous and everything is interconnected- but as our dogs age, we tend to not necessarily think about the HEART.

And lemme tell ya, it’s an important one.

Sometimes I think we get caught up with just trying to do our best for our pups and get overwhelmed- what do we truly prioritize? Add a healthy dose of denial that your dog’s getting older and BAM your pups’ inching towards senior years and you’ve neglected one of the most important organs.

I was on that same train until our integrative vet suggested, especially because of Opie’s predominant breed (Boxer’s are prone to cardiomyopathy) that it would be wise as he’s headed into his 9th year (*breaks down into tears and uses Opie’s ass to wipe them away*) to get some cardiac scans done.

Initially I was hesitant- what if something was wrong? A new protocol? A new reality? A new thing to put energy into? And then I realized, what’s my other option? NOT protect his heart? NOT know what we’re dealing with and hope for the best? There was no reason other than personal fear standing in my way and I knew I needed to push past it for Opie’s sake and get pragmatic about using my skillset to give him the best, healthiest, happiest, most comfortable life well into his later years.

Luckily, the results of Opie’s scan showed no signs of cardiomyopathy but it did tell us that he has a mild valve degeneration and a slightly leaky valve which helped kickstart the development of an herbal protocol to help prevent any further issues and support his heart health in general (note: this also includes yearly cardiac scans to ensure the degeneration isn’t progressing and no new surprises have entered the scene).

So what does this have to do with your pooch? Primarily, I wanted to just get you all thinking about heart health and how important it is (and how often it gets neglected when we’re focusing on so many other things) and the easiest ways to support your dogs heart.

  1. A body condition score of 5 (visible waistline, easily palpable ribs, hips and spine).
  2. A balanced fresh food diet with attention to quality (or as much fresh food as possible in their bowl).
  3. A calm environment void of harsh fragrances, detergents, acute EMF exposure, loud noises or other obvious stressors.
  4. Clean, purified water (note: this does not mean Brita)

Once you’re able to establish a cleaner terrain for your dog with the above five steps I suggest exploring the incorporation of the following supplements (especially if your dog is getting older or prone to heart disease).

  1. Hawthorn berry (also knows as “the heart herb”) can be served dried or as an extract (if served as an extract the ratio is typically the same number of drops as your dog is in kilograms).
  2. Chaga- damn, I love me some fungus! Chaga helps to boost heart health and can be found in my very own province. Dogs typically love the taste and consume it as a tea (as always try and source organic, ethically and sustainably harvested chaga). You can feed 1 cup of tea to a 50lb dog.
  3. Ginkgo Baloba leaves help reduce inflammation and improves circulation (and can be found, again, in my home province). Dosages are typically 1mg per kg of your dogs body weight or if found in an extract/tincture 2 drops per kg twice a day.
  4. A clean potent omega 3 (if your dog already has a heart issue, you may want to increase the suggested dosage).
  5. Book in for a cardiac scan for your dog so you can do the best with the most information.

*As with anything, all dosages should be double checked with your integrative or holistic veterinarian.