Okaw Veterinary Clinic

140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953

(217)253-3221

okawvetclinic.com

Salty Treats & your Dog's Heart

dog treatsThere are various problems that can plague a dog as it ages. Heart disease is a problem for dogs as they age - especially some of our toy breeds. Enlargement of the heart starts off slowly, then progressing into congestive heart disease causing fluid to build up in the lungs and other damage. The speed that this disease progresses depends on a few factors - if there was any other heart damage in the past. This could be from being hit by a car or heartworm for example. Obesity makes it far more difficult to live with an enlarging heart, and feeding primarily table food over dog food will cause a lack of important amino acids that aid in heart function.

Often, an owner will only notice a mild cough or that their dog is not playing as actively as before. This happens when the heart if first enlarging. The heart pushes up on the trachea as it increases in size. As the size increases, the blood does not flow through the lungs as well, causing fluid to accumulate. Part of the body's response to the changes in blood flow is to increase the blood pressure by holding salt in the body. As the salt is retained, so is water thereby increasing the blood volume and pressure. As the blood flows slower through the body, fluid leaks out - especially in the lungs. This is pulmonary edema.

So, decreasing salt in the diet is important as pets age. Many of our senior foods are lower in salt. What is tricky is that the treats we often give our pets are high in salt. The salt makes things tastier for our pets. Also things like rawhide, and Greenies have salt which we would not normally think of. So, for your older pet look for senior treats or even make your own. 

Making your own treats is best if you just take the dry form of the pet food with some of the canned food and whirl it up in a food processor. You add enough water to make a "dough" and then roll that out and cut it into shapes. Fresh vegetables also make great treats -avoid celery since that has salt but fresh green beans, sweet pepper or carrots are good for them. Talk to your veterinarian about what would be best for your pet. They may even have a recipe for you to use.