Dog Food For Heart Problems


"Dogs with heart problems may have special nutritional needs such as restricted salt."


Dog food for dogs with heart disease is an important consideration when caring for your dog. Dogs with heart problems tend to retain too much fluid in the lungs, abdomen and below the skin. Because of fluid retention, heart disease in a dog requires less salt, a factor in causing fluid to accumulate.

Never feed a dog with heart problems foods high in salt including many human foods such as salty snacks. Do not assume that all dogs foods are equal when it comes to salt. Supermarket and specialty brands often have high salt content (to make them more appetizing to your dog) and should be avoided.

According to the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine a low salt diet is defined as having less than 100mg/100kca.

Water can also contain high levels of salt. If it's high in your area, consider bottled or low sodium water as a substitute (call your water department for information - many also post salt content on their website).

Moderate Salt Restriction Canine Diet

Examples of dog food for heart problems with moderate salt restriction diets are Science Diet Senior®, Hills K/D® and Purina CNM NF-Formula®.

Dogs with heart disease may lose weight. To help them gain weight add Nutrical (stimulates appetite and helps energy levels) or Energel (high calorie supplement) and a high-protein treat to their diet.

Strict Salt Restriction Canine Diet

Foods for dogs that have to severely limit salt include Hill's H/D®, Waltham low sodium®, Purina CNM Canine CV-Formula®, Hill's Healthblend Canine Geriatric®, and Purina CNM Feline NF-Formula®.

Dog Food Prepared At Home

If you are not happy with prepared dog food, you can prepare this low salt alternative at home for your dog:

  • 1 pound ground round or other lean beef
  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 300mg of Calcium lactate
  • One pet vitamin

Note: If your dog refuses to eat a new food, consider mixing the old food with the new. Over time, reduce the level of old food until it is completely removed from the diet. Eating anything is better than having your dog refuse to eat at all.

Natural Supplements for Canine Heart Disease

There are many natural supplements that can help dogs with heart disease. These include:

  • Taurine and L-carnitrine: Good supplements for dogs with DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy).
  • Fish Oil - May help with arrhythmia.
  • Hawthorne - Helps the kidneys excrete water and minerals. Tell your veterinarian if your dog is taking this supplement as it could alter blood tests.

A supplement designed for dogs that combines many of these helpful herbs is PetAlive Heart & Circulation for the natural treatment and prevention of heart disease and to improve circulation.

Exercise For Dogs With Heart Problems

In addition to diet you should consult with your Veterinarian regarding exercise. Since heart failure involves stress on the heart, exercise only serves to worsen the condition, particularly in dogs with some type of arrhythmia or dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM - stretched chambers of the heart).

Once heart failure is treated, your dog can usually go back on some type of light or moderate exercise program. The level of exercise should be just short of a level that would cause your dog to breath heavily or pant. If approved by your veterinarian, most dogs benefit mentally and physically from daily walks. If your dog looks tired, you should allow him or her to stop.


"Home Care of the Heart Failure Patient"
Nelson, O.R.
Washington State University

"Canine Heart Disease"
Dukes, Joanne, MRCVS Department of Veterinary Medicine University
Glasgow Veterinary School, Scotland, UK

Hearty Dog,

Home Cooked Pet Diets and Nutrition
Hines, Ron, DVM, PHD

Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats
Hines, Ron, DVM, PHD

Heart Conditions: Dilated Cardiomyophaty (DCM) "Treatment for Rapid Heart Beat"
Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue

"His Heart is In Your Hands"
Canine Cardiology, New Hope Animal Hospital

"Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure"
Pawprints & Purrs, Inc.

"Hole in Dog's Heart Repaired", Advances in the Management of Canine Heart Failure
Dr. Clarke E. Atkins
Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences