Heart disease is a pretty common problem for humans, but many people are unaware that it’s also quite common in our canines. In fact, more than 10% of pets examined by veterinarians have some form of cardiovascular disease.
If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, it can be a scary and stressful time for you as a pet owner. But with today’s advanced knowledge of nutrition and canine medicine, your dog has a better chance than ever to continue living a fulfilling life with heart disease. One of the biggest factors will be your dog’s food intake.
Providing your pooch with proper nutrition can keep them fighting against heart disease at full capacity. We took the time to search for and compare the best dog foods for canines with heart disease to help relieve some of the stress you’re surely feeling. The following reviews will share everything we learned while testing these foods so that you can be certain you’re giving your dog the best nutrition possible without trying them all yourself.
Quick Comparison of Our Favorites – Reviews 2022
The 5 Best Heart Healthy Dog Food
1. Hill’s Prescription Diet Dog Heart Care – Best Overall
When you want to give your dog the best fighting chance against heart disease, we recommend Hill’s Prescription Diet Heart Care Canned Dog Food. This food is really a medication more than a food; a fact that’s proven by the need to prove your veterinarian’s authorization for feeding it to your dog before you can order it. While this might be a bit of an extra hassle for you, it’s also proof of how potent this formula is.
This food is made with low levels of sodium to help prevent spiking your dog’s blood pressure or making their heart work harder than necessary. It’s also fortified with supplements that are meant to specifically help dogs with heart health problems like taurine and l-carnitine.
Of course, those aren’t the only beneficial nutrients you’ll find in this formula. You’ll also find loads of other essentials vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more. For instance, a quick look at the ingredients label shows that this food contains vitamin E, ascorbic acid for vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin D3, and many more. You’ll also find beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, ensuring that your dog gets all of the vital minerals they need.
2. Earthborn Holistic Vantage Dry Dog Food – Best Value
Many of the foods made for dogs with heart disease are exorbitantly priced. But the Earthborn Holistic Adult Vantage Natural Dry Dog Food is much more affordable, but it’s still loaded with the nutrients your dog needs to fight off heart failure and live a long, healthy life keeping heart disease at bay. In fact, we think it’s the best dog food for congestive heart failure for the money.
Despite being affordably priced, this food is still packed with essential vitamins and minerals from natural, whole-food sources. Rather than just supplement this formula with vitamins and minerals, Earthborn opted for using whole foods that were packed with the necessary vitamins like blueberries, cranberries, carrots, apples, and more.
You’ll also find plenty of other supplements in this blend to help boost your dog’s health. We were pleased to see glucosamine, chondroitin, beta-carotene, l-carnitine, and more. But what this blend is missing is protein. It’s not devoid of protein, but 22% crude protein isn’t too impressive. Thankfully, the protein does come from multiple sources including chicken and whitefish. If only there were a bit more of it, this food might have topped our list.
3. Royal Canin Vet Diet Early Cardiac – Best for Puppies
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet has a reputation for making high-quality, albeit, high-dollar dog foods and their Early Cardiac Dry Dog Food is no exception. Out of all the foods we tried, we think this one is the best choice for puppies. Granted, it’s pretty pricey. But can you really put a price on your growing pup’s nutrition?
So, what do you get for the high price of this dog food? For one, you get a low sodium dog food blend that’s packed with nutrients meant to help ward off heart disease and keep your growing dog’s heart healthy and strong. This includes nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E, C, and B6, plus loads of minerals like zinc, copper, calcium, and more.
But the bigger draw here is the added supplements that will boost your dog’s heart health. This food is fortified with arginine, carnitine, taurine, and more; beneficial nutrients that can aid your dog in the fight for a healthy heart.
For such an expensive dog food, we were a bit disappointed to see brewers rice listed as the first ingredient. Generally, we’d hope to see a high-quality, whole-food protein listed as the first ingredient.
4. Wellness Complete Health Adult Dry Dog Food
We were excited when we first took a look at the ingredients list for the Wellness Complete Health Adult Dry Dog Food. The first ingredient listed is lamb, so we knew they were using whole-food sources to provide some quality protein for our canines. Then we were happy to see that fish was also used to provide a diverse amino acid profile. But the overall protein content was just 24%, a little low by our standards.
This food is fortified with loads of nutrients that your dog’s health will benefit from. This includes taurine, manganese, copper, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, this blend has prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber to support healthy digestion. We also liked the inclusion of supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
But in the end, this food failed the taste test; one of the most important tests for any dog food to pass. A few of our dogs ate this food without any problems, but most of them were pretty wary of it. Many of our pooches flat out refused to have anything to do with this food! And these dogs aren’t particularly picky eaters.
5. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dry Dog Food
Most of the heart disease-specific dog food formulas are pretty pricey, including other formulas from Hill’s Science Diet. But this Adult Dry Dog Food is much more affordable. It’s also not meant specifically for dogs with heart disease, but it’s loaded with a lot of the same nutrients that will benefit them.
For instance, in this food, you’ll find a potent blend of antioxidants and vitamins that are meant to work together to support a strong, healthy immune system, which is necessary for fighting off heart disease. And we like this blend is made from whole food sources that provide your dog with premium nutrients.
Plus, this formula uses multiple protein sources to provide your dog with a full amino acid profile. But with less than 20% minimum crude protein, we aren’t too impressed. We’d prefer to see more overall protein, even if it means that the protein comes from less diverse sources.
And ingredients like corn gluten meal can be foregone altogether. Corn isn’t easy for dogs to digest and many people would rather not feed their dogs gluten, us included.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Dog Food for Heart Disease
Now you’ve seen our top dog food choices for canines with heart disease, but you might be wondering how we choose these five foods over all the others.
For us, it all starts with an understanding of heart disease in dogs. What exactly is heart disease and what are its effects for our pooches?
Then, it comes down to the type of nutrients that will give our dogs the best fighting chance against heart diseases of any type. We look for the food that’s packed with the most beneficial and health-boosting nutrients that are specifically formulated to provide the nutrients that a dog with heart disease needs.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you in the dark. If this all sounds like information that you need to know as the owner of a dog with heart disease, that’s because it is. And to make it easy for you to digest, we’ve included it all in this short buyer’s guide.
What is Canine Heart Disease?
We’ve all heard of heart disease, but what exactly is it?
Actually, heart disease is a pretty wide-ranging term. Pretty much any abnormality of the heart can be called heart disease. These abnormalities can be physical, functional, congenital, acquired, etc. They can even be short or long in duration. Basically, anything wrong with your heart can fall under the umbrella of heart disease.
What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure doesn’t always happen in dogs with heart disease. However, dogs with heart disease are at a much higher risk of heart failure as this is the final stage of severe heart disease.
Like it sounds, heart failure is when the heart fails. It can be caused by a number of processes including fluid buildup, decreased blood flow, or extremely low blood pressure.
Many dogs with heart disease will never experience heart failure, but only dogs with heart disease are at risk since it is caused by severe heart disease.
Signs Your Dog Might Have Heart Disease
It can be terrifying to find out that your beloved best friend has heart disease. But if you catch it early on, your chances of mitigating the disease and helping your dog to live a long, healthy, happy life are much better.
Of course, if you want to catch heart disease early, you’re going to need to know what to look for. The following five symptoms are often the first early indicators that your dog may have heart disease. Keep an eye out for these symptoms and if you see your dog exhibiting any of them, it might be time to get some professional help.
1. Difficulty Breathing
Having a hard time breathing is often one of the first symptoms that dogs with heart disease will display. This might present itself as hard, labored breathing that seems to require a lot of force, or you might see them breathing rapidly.
If you only see your dog breathing hard occasionally or after physical exertion, then there’s probably nothing to worry about. A dog that has difficulty breathing due to heart disease will usually have trouble breathing all or most of the time.
You might notice your dog’s posture change in an attempt to make it easier to breathe. They may stretch their necks out and spread their legs wide apart. Since most dogs with heart disease find it more difficult to breathe lying down, you’ll likely notice your dog sitting or standing for long periods instead.
If you notice that your dog seems to tire out much quicker than they used to, it could be a sign of heart disease. This might be accompanied by more sleeping and resting than usual.
You might find that dogs who were excited for playtime or exercise before don’t seem to be interested any longer. This is likely due to the excessive fatigue caused by heart disease.
Many dogs cough for reasons completely unrelated to heart disease. But if your dog has a cough that persists for several days and doesn’t want to dissipate, then it could be due to heart disease.
When the heart can’t pump efficiently, fluid can buildup in the lungs causing your dog to cough in an attempt to expel the extra fluid.
In some forms of heart disease, the heart actually swells and enlarges. This can cause it to press on your dog’s airways, which can result in continuous coughing.
As a general rule, if your dog has a cough that continues for days or weeks, you should take them to the vet. It could very likely be a sign of something much more serious.
4. Changes in Behavior
When your dog’s behavior changes, your first thought likely isn’t heart disease. But this disease can have many effects on your dog, including major behavioral changes.
Some of the most common changes in behavior that you’re likely to see due to heart disease are changes in eating habits, a loss of desire to play, no longer wanting to participate in activities they enjoy, or seeking isolation.
While these types of behavioral changes aren’t enough to diagnose heart disease from, they’re certainly enough to warrant a trip to the vet for further study.
5. Collapsing or Fainting
All of the organs and systems in your dog’s body rely on blood to function. When heart activity decreases because of heart disease, those organs aren’t getting enough blood, which deprives them of vital nutrients such as oxygen. Oxygen deprivation can easily lead to fainting or collapse.
The brain also receives reduced blood flow in dogs with heart disease. This alone can result in collapse.
For most dogs with heart disease, fainting and collapsing will be triggered by physical activity. If you notice your dog faints when you play with them or take them on a walk, then it’s time to visit the vet.
Seek a Professional Opinion
We’ve discussed quite a few of the signs that might clue you into your dog’s growing heart troubles. However, only a trained and qualified veterinarian can diagnose heart disease.
Take note of all of the signs and symptoms your dog is displaying. This is all valuable information that can help your vet to correctly diagnose your dog’s health concerns.
But that’s not where the vet’s role ends. Your veterinarian can also help you to formulate the ideal diet for your dog to keep them healthy and provide the nutrients they need to fight off heart disease and live a long life.
While the foods we picked are some of the best all-around choices for most dogs with heart disease, every case is unique. Your dog may have special needs above and beyond those of other dogs. So, it’s best to get the individualized, specific care that your canine needs from your vet.
Choosing the Best Dog Food for Heart Disease
So, what do the best dog foods for canines with heart disease contain?
These foods are packed with the vital nutrients that will give your dog a fighting chance against heart disease. This includes nutrients like:
Antioxidants protect against cellular damage. Any compound can be an antioxidant, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, and more. Some of the most common antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. These health-boosting nutrients are great for reducing inflammation and bolstering the immune system.
Dogs require 22 amino acids to make the proteins that their bodies need for healthy functionality. Naturally, your dog can’t fight off any infectious diseases if its body is struggling just to keep up with its amino acid needs. That’s why the best foods for dogs with heart disease include plenty of protein from diverse, whole-food sources to ensure that your dog is getting all of the amino acids it needs. This allows their body to focus on fighting diseases and getting healthy instead of focusing on finding deficient amino acids.
Supplements are concentrated forms of nutrients that are normally consumed through food. But some nutrients are difficult to get in the amounts our dogs need from natural sources alone. This is particularly true when your dog has heart disease and needs high levels of very specific nutrients.
For this reason, we prefer foods that are fortified with vital supplements like taurine and l-carnitine. These supplements can help many dogs with different heart concerns, and they’re an extra line of defense for a dog that’s fighting against disease.
You Might Need a Prescription
There’s one thing to keep in mind that you may not have considered. For some of these foods, you’ll actually need a prescription from your vet. This means that your veterinarian will need to provide authorization before you can even get these foods for your dog. While that may seem like overkill, it’s a great way to ensure that only dogs who need the specialized nutrients in such foods will get them.
Conclusion: Heart Healthy Dog Food
As seen in our reviews, there are plenty of options for providing dogs with heart disease the necessary nutrition that will allow them to live long, healthy lives despite their health conditions.
For us, the best choice overall is the Hill’s Prescription Diet Heart Care Canned Dog Food. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s such a powerful food that you have to get your veterinarian’s authorization to purchase it. It’s got low sodium levels but plenty of the important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your dog needs to fight off heart disease. It’s even fortified with taurine and l-carnitine that have been shown to help dogs with heart disease.
For a more affordable option, we recommend the Earthborn Holistic Adult Vantage Natural Dry Dog Food. It might be more cost-effective, but it’s still packed with the nutrition your dog needs, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants sourced from nutrient-rich, whole-food sources.
Finally, if you want to prevent heart disease in your growing puppy, we suggest feeding them the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Early Cardiac Dry Dog Food. This blend is low in sodium but high in health-boosting supplements like arginine, carnitine, and taurine, to ensure your pup’s heart stays healthy.
Related Read: 8 Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics for Dogs
Featured Image Credit: YamaBSM, Pixabay