As well as treating canine heart disease with medical interventions there’s also lots of evidence to suggest adapting your dog’s diet can be an important part of treatment.
Generally, the diet should be high in good quality, meat-based protein to maintain body mass & to provide the heart with much-needed amino acids (particularly taurine & l-carnitine). Taurine & l-carnitine supplementation is also an option, as is feeding mainly foods high in taurine (e.g. turkey, tuna & beef heart) & l-carnitine (beef & lamb).
In addition to protein, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure your dog remains a healthy weight.
Being either overweight or underweight (often called cardiac cachexia or muscle wasting) is not good for your dog’s health in general, but particularly when they have been diagnosed with heart disease.
Lower calorie foods with a very high protein content are difficult to create because meat and fat (which is high in calories) tend to go hand in hand. It is always better to deal with the weight issue (& supplement taurine/l-carnitine separately), than feed a high meat (& high calorie) diet that won’t shift the extra pounds. So, while you’re trying to slim your dog down, stick with a food that’s 9% fat or less. The lower fat/calorie foods listed here have been selected for their relatively high protein content considering their calories.
Another important factor is to keep salt intake as low as possible because dogs with heart disease have a reduced ability to excrete salt into their urine, which can lead to fluid retention.
High salt foods include ham, canned fish and cottage cheese along with table scraps and many ‘supermarket’ style dog treats.
Depending on how severe your dog’s illness is, sodium intake should either be moderately or extremely reduced. Feeding the no added salt dog foods below & removing any high-salt treats/scraps from your dog’s diet will help to reduce their sodium intake to a level that is acceptable for dogs on a moderate salt reduction plan, but for more extreme salt reduction a specially designed prescription diet may be necessary.
Omega-3 fatty acids which are present in fish & fish oils have also been shown to benefit dogs with heart disease & arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), so the foods listed all have Omega 3 supplementation.
(Please be aware that we are not vets. The information given here is intended as a general guide & should not replace the directions received from your vet)