Pet parents need to prioritize their fur baby’s cardiovascular system as much as their own. The heart, lungs and blood vessels are constantly working to keep your pet healthy. Any damage done to these vital organs can have devastating consequences. Cats and dogs are vulnerable to many of the cardiovascular diseases humans face, plus other threats like heartworms.
The good news is you can help. Diet, exercise and other preventive measures go a long way in saving pets from chronic illness. The following wellness tips will keep your pet’s cardiovascular system in top shape.
Give your pet a heartworm preventive
Judging by the parasite’s name, it comes as no surprise that heartworms pose a threat to your pet’s heart health. Heartworms live in the lungs and heart, both of which are vital organs in the cardiovascular system. These pesky intruders can cause a ton of damage like inflammation, restricted blood flow, blood clots and even heart failure.
Thankfully, vets offer heartworm preventives for both cats and dogs. Treatments are available for heartworm disease, but pet parents are better off preventing the infection in the first place. You can request a heartworm preventive in the form of a pill, powder or topical ointment. Pet parents usually administer this medication once a month.
Incorporate daily cardio workouts
Exercise provides many health benefits, especially for the cardiovascular system. Physical activity keeps your pet’s heart strong and increases blood circulation throughout the body. Any form of exercise can also keep their weight under control, which alleviates stress on the heart. Exercises that specifically work the cardiovascular system are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Pet parents should aim for 20 minutes of cardio exercise a day for cats and one hour for dogs. Anything that gets their heart rate up is great for the cardiovascular system. Cats love brightly-colored wand toys and chasing birds in the backyard. Dogs have plenty of options like walking, running, swimming and playing fetch.
Maintain a well-balanced diet
Every part of your pet’s body depends on a healthy diet, and the cardiovascular system is no exception. Food with the right high-quality ingredients helps vital organs function properly and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Stick to kibble that’s low in sodium because this mineral has been linked to obesity and a shortened lifespan.
Two key ingredients to look for are probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids. Probiotics support your pet’s gut health, which in turn protects the heart. Gut microbiomes containing tons of healthy bacteria can lower blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids improve heart health by suppressing inflammatory hormones.
Stay on top of dental hygiene
You’re probably wondering what teeth have to do with the cardiovascular system. Turns out, they play a major role in your pet’s heart health. Plaque buildup hardens into tartar, which increases the risk of infection along the gum line. Bacterial infections that originate in the mouth can spread via the bloodstream to vital organs like the lungs and heart. If left untreated, dental disease can result in congestive heart failure.
Pet parents can easily prevent dental and heart disease by taking care of their fur baby’s teeth at home. Some cats and dogs might tolerate owners brushing their teeth a few times per week. If not, the next best option is dental treats that scrape plaque off your pet’s teeth. Dental disease is quite common among pets, but you can detect and prevent it early on with annual cleanings at the vet.
Schedule annual vet checkups
Cardiovascular disease often flies under the radar. A lifetime of poor diets and minimal exercise can gradually lead to obesity, clogged arteries and heart failure. Pet parents often can’t detect chronic health concerns on their own because pets can go years without displaying symptoms. By the time symptoms finally do show up, cardiovascular disease has already taken hold.
Vets have the necessary expertise to detect the early signs of cardiovascular disease. Annual checkups give vets a chance to assess your pet’s overall health and shed light on potential concerns. Bringing in your pet once a year makes it possible to reverse the effects of cardiovascular disease before it gets worse. Even if your pet seems fine, a bit of preventive care can give your furry companion prompt treatment and extend their lifespan.
A pet’s cardiovascular system is usually overlooked until problems arise. Owners can save their fur babies from preventable illness by taking daily steps toward proper cardiovascular care. All it takes is regular exercise, healthy food and good hygiene. As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine!