Your pet has been diagnosed with a heart murmur. He regularly coughs,
especially at night. He can only exercise for a short time and has labored
breathing after moving. He may collapse or faint. His tongue and gums appear blue (cyanotic).
The most common cause of congestive heart disease is from a heart valve
(mitral Valve), that doesn’t close properly. This is often diagnosed early in life, and progresses to heart failure later. This is common in small breeds. In some dogs the heart muscle fails and can get very thin, a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. This is more common in Spaniels, Dobermans and other large breeds. All dogs, and occasionally cats, can get heartworm. This is an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes, but shows up as heart disease.
Cats also get heart disease, but it is primarily from the heart muscle enlarging (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). Heart problems are often genetic, so they can’t always be prevented, but they are more likely to occur with poor diets, dental, obesity, lack of exercise, and by not being on a heartworm prevention medication.
SOLUTIONS - SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN. If your pet is displaying signs of heart disease (the coughing and exercise intolerance), then you must have an examination and work up to determine the root of the problem. If your pet is in obvious distress (heavy breathing, blue gums), then go right away. I always begin by treating pets with conventional medication, and add in holistic treatment. If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm then he/she can be treated with medication (Immiticide) to kill the adults immediately.
PREVENTIVE MEDICATION. If you live in a heartworm area then ensure that your pet is on heartworm prevention. The monthly tablets are very safe and effective.
FATTY ACIDS. The omega 3 fatty acids are effective in strengthening a failing heart. They make it easier for the heart to beat and decrease the severity of arrhythmias. They lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of blood clots. The best canine source is found in ground flax, at a dose of 1 tsp/cup of dog food. For cats use fish oil available in pet supply stores; give one 250mg capsule daily.
TEETH AND GUMS. Keep your pet’s teeth clean. Bacteria in the mouth will circulate in the blood stream and land on the heart valves. This alone can lead to heart failure. Clean your pet’s teeth by brushing and by being on an appropriate diet. Consider a dental cleaning if there is dental disease. This is most important for small breeds.
FIT AND TRIM. Inactive overweight pets are more likely to have heart problems. Exercise your pet twice daily and ensure that she is on a high-quality diet. The exercise will help the heart beat more efficiently, and tone the blood vessels.
ANTIOXIDANTS. These will prevent further damage to the heart muscle. The most recommended often include Vitamin E (100IU per 10 lbs), Vitamin C (100mg per 10 lbs) and Selenium (20ug per 10 lbs).
COENZYME Q. This supplement has been effective in people as an antioxidant and in decreasing damage to the heart muscle. The dose is 5mg per 10 lbs of body weight.
MAGNESIUM. It helps prevent arrhythmias and improves the ability of the heart to contract. The dose is 25mg per 10 lbs daily of body weight.
TAURINE. A supplement that can dramatically reverse cardiomyopathy in Cocker Spaniels is Taurine. The dose is 500mg three times daily.
CARNITINE. Effective in Cocker Spaniels and Boxers with dilated cardiomyopathy. The dose is 1000mg twice daily.
HERBAL HELP. Hawthorn has been shown to increase the ability of the heart to contract, as well as causing the outside blood vessels to dilate, making heart contraction easier. The dose is 2 drops per lb of body weight twice daily of the tincture.
DIRURETICS. In heart disease, fluid will accumulate in the lungs and abdomen. DANDELION is a very safe diuretic herb; give 2 drops per lb of body weight twice daily. APIS is a homeopathic treatment for excess fluid; give 30C twice daily.
ACCUPRESSURE. This can help restore the energy imbalances in the body. There are 3 major points: BL13, BL14 and BL15, located on the third, fourth and fifth rib spaces. Press each spot for 1 minute twice daily. After 2 weeks continue to use if you see improvement in your pet. The other points listed on the cart can be worked also and will aid in fluid retention and balancing the kidneys and the liver.
To learn more about holistic treatments and natural healing strategies for pets, be sure to visit Pet Remedy Charts the ultimate guide to using herbs, homeopathy, flower remedies and acupressure in home pet health care.