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Heart Healthy Foods for Pets

As Valentine’s Day approaches, people think with their hearts about what they love and what matters most to them. We should also think about our hearts and how to keep them healthy, and how to maintain heart health for those we love – especially our pets! They depend on us for their food and shelter, and pets reward us with their love and companionship. We owe it to our pets to provide them with the best nutrition we can. Here are some factors to consider when looking for a heart healthy food:

  • High Quality Protein Sources – Your pet’s food should be rich in healthy, lean meat based proteins. Look for these to be the first ingredients in your pet’s diet. What meat sources do your dog or cat prefer? Do they have allergies? Consider these when looking at a brand of food, making sure there’s enough variety for rotational feeding.
  • Weight Management – Maintaining a healthy weight can be one of the best tools to protect your pet against illness and disease. The heart muscle does not have to work as hard when your pet is an ideal weight.  Feed according to the guidelines on the back of your pet’s food bag. Keeping a measuring cup in your pet’s food is an easy way to feed consistently. If you add wet food or another kibble topper to their diet, subtract from the normal amount of kibble for that meal.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids – As Dr. Osborn reports “fish oils are essential for an all-around heart-healthy diet for dogs… Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and protect against abnormal heart rhythms.” Omegas can be found naturally in many fish based diets, in salmon, pollock, cod, or sardine oils to be added on top of their kibble, or in other supplemental forms.
  • Taurine – “The nutrient taurine is a unique type of amino acid, called a beta-amino sulfonic acid. It is not incorporated into proteins but rather is found primarily as a free amino acid in body tissues and circulating in the blood. Taurine has many functions, but two that are important for this discussion involve its role in normal heart function and its presence as a component of bile acids, which are needed for fat digestion.” – From Whole Dog Journal   Taurine is found naturally in high quality animal proteins that are not damaged by heat – think raw and freeze-dried – and as a supplement. While cats have a dietary requirement for taurine, dogs do not have one just yet. As research continues into the causes of DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) in dogs, there may be a dietary requirement of taurine in canine diets in the near future.

Want to know more about the importance of taurine in pet diets? Whole Dog Journal takes a deep dive into the subject with this article.

Sources – DCM in Dogs: Taurine’s Role in the Canine Diet, Whole Dog Journal; Heart Healthy Dog Food Tips for Canines, Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic, Dr. Carol Osborne

Photo by Lynn Terry Photography

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