Amanda Coleman, associate professor in the department of small animal medicine and surgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine, gave some tips on how to keep your dog’s heart healthy with The Hour.
“Diet and exercise do not matter the same for a dog’s heart health as they do for people,” said Coleman, so it’s important to not think about your dog’s heart the same way you think of yours.
Plaque buildup and lifestyle choices don’t impact a dog heart very often, and instead they deal with heart issues from birth or caused by aging.
“Dogs rarely develop atherosclerosis,” said Coleman, which is a type of plaque buildup in the heart most often caused by poor diet and lack of exercise.
Coleman also said other factors that contribute to human heart disease won’t affect dogs.
“Obviously, dogs don’t smoke or drink,” she said.
Instead, to keep your dog’s heart healthy, you should keep them active and take them for regular check-ups with a veterinarian to listen for an irregular heartbeat or heart murmur, both indicators of heart disease. You should also keep your dog up-to-date on heartworm prevention medication or shots to prevent an infection leading to heart failure. It’s important to take preventive measures against heart disease for dogs.
“Animals are really good at hiding heart disease because they can’t tell us how they are feeling,” she said. “The most important thing you can do for your dog is to see a vet regularly.”