Maybelline's Healthy Heart Plan
Since February is the month of love and hearts, I thought it would be a very good time to talk about a diet modification I made a year ago for two delightful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels named Maybelline and Abner.
Maybelline's family contacted me when a routine vet appointment indicated a slight heart beat irregularity. Further testing showed that Maybelline is in an early stage of Mitral Valve Disease (MVD). Thankfully, Maybelline is not symptomatic and at present does not need to take any medications to support her heart muscle.
Maybelline's family are amazing pet parents to both Maybelline and her older brother, Abner. They enjoy a wonderful life with heaps of love, fun dog activities and outings, proper nutrition, and excellent dental and veterinary care. Good oral health is essential towards supporting cardiac health - in addition to overall health - and Maybelline and Abner get their teeth brushed each night before bed.
Maybelline and Abner's parents understand the power and importance of food, and already provided a well balanced raw diet, which thrills me. They wanted to know what else they could do, from a nutritional standpoint, to support their dogs' cardiovascular health. Their goal is to do whatever they can to support Maybelline and Abner's hearts and hopefully slow or halt the progression of MVD. Maybelline and Abner's vet, who is holistically minded, was supportive of adding heart healthy whole foods and supplements.
Diet Additions and Adjustments
Maybelline and Abner were already on a good quality commercial raw diet, however, I suggested we add in commonly recommended whole food sources of heart healthy food, add supplements, and boost the diet overall by including some high quality functional foods. Specifically, we added in foods high in L-carnitine, taurine, CoQ10, and Omega-3 fats.
Add Heart - Maybelline and Abner's current commercial raw food does not include heart, so we added a small percentage of heart meat each day to the diet. Heart is high in the amino acids L-Carnitine, and taurine, which support cardiac health. It's also a rich source of CoQ10, which is shown to help slow the progression of canine heart disease. A philosophy in Traditional Chinese Medicine is "like feeds like", and heart would be fed to a dog with a 'sick' heart. We were able to keep the amount of calories in Maybelline and Abner's diet within the correct range by substituting small pieces of heart for their regular treats.
Add Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - CoQ10/Ubiquinol is powerful antioxidant and enzyme that is shown help slow heart disease in dogs, as well as improve heart health overall.
Increase Omega-3 fatty acids - Omega-3 fats are proven to be important for cardiovascular health and fight inflammation within the body. We increased the marine sourced Omega-3's in the diet to a more therapeutic dose.
Add Cardiac Support supplement - Maybelline and Abner's vet recommended a cardiac combination supplement that is high in L-Carnitine.
Add Fermented Raw Goat's Milk - The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods supports gut health, which supports the immune system. Fermented Raw Goat's Milk is a good source of the heart healthy amino acid, taurine, as well as many other enzymes, fats, and vitamins (vitamin D, in particular).
Add Eggs - While not a specific food used to support the heart, eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition. I suggested adding eggs to fill in some possible nutritional gaps in the diet. Maybelline and Abner's parents find that hard boiled eggs work better for them than raw eggs.
Add Antioxidant Rich Vegetables and Fruit - Broccoli, green leafy vegetables and blueberries were added to the diet to support overall health and fight potential inflammatory diseases.
Test Vitamin D levels - There is a correlation between low or deficient Vitamin D and heart disease. I suggested a blood test at some point to check vitamin D levels, and we will adjust if needed. This is on the to-do list.
6 Months Later
6 months after Maybelline's initial diagnosis, a follow up ultrasound was performed on both Maybelline and Abner. I was extremely happy to hear that there had been no changes in either dog - Maybelline's ultrasound did not indicate any progression of MVD, and Abner continues to be free from the disease!
Of course, we can't know for certain what impact these diet adjustments had on the dogs' hearts. Perhaps there would have been no change, even without the diet and supplement additions. However, since we know that food options are available to support health and organ function, it only makes sense to use food in a smart, supportive, and proactive manner.
I had the pleasure of seeing Maybelline and Abner a short while ago. They are the picture of health - glossy coats, bright eyes, excellent energy and life force. My hope for Maybelline is that she will have lots of more time to boss around her big brother, Abner, and chat back to other dogs on TV.
"Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food" - Hippocrates
This article is for information purposes only and not meant to diagnosis, treat, or be a treatment plan for dogs. Please consult your holistic vet with any health related concern you may have about the health of your dog.