The most common cause of heart failure in dogs is myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD), which accounts for approximately 75% of canine heart disease cases and is especially common in smaller dogs. Although low-sodium diets have been recommended for humans with heart diseases for decades, there is little evidence to support this practice in dogs. In recent years, however, it has become clear that other nutrients are important to heart health. Dogs with heart disease secondary to MMVD experience patterns of metabolic changes that include decreased mitochondrial energy metabolism and ATP availability, with increased oxidative stress and inflammation. These changes occur early in disease and progress with worsening heart disease. Key nutrients that may support normal function and address these changes include omega-3 fatty acids, medium-chain triglycerides, magnesium, antioxidants including vitamin E and taurine, and the amino acids methionine and lysine. The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and other benefits. Medium-chain fatty acids and ketones derived from medium-chain triglycerides provide an alternative energy source for cardiac mitochondria and help reduce free radical production. Magnesium supports mitochondrial function, normal cardiac rhythm, and provides other benefits. Both vitamin E and taurine counter oxidative stress, and taurine also has direct cardiac benefits. Dogs with MMVD have reduced plasma methionine. Methionine and lysine are important for carnitine production as well as other functions. This article reviews the evidence supporting the functions and benefits of these and other nutrients in MMVD and other cardiac conditions.
Objective—To estimate disease prevalence among dogs and cats in the United States and Australia and proportions of dogs and cats that receive therapeutic diets or dietary supplements.
Sample Population—Dog and cat owners located in 5 geographic areas.
Procedures—A telephone survey was administered to dog and cat owners.
Results—Of 18,194 telephone calls that were made, 1,104 (6%) were to individuals who owned at least 1 dog or cat and agreed to participate. Information was collected for 635 dogs and 469 cats. Only 14 (1%) respondents indicated that their pet was unhealthy, but 176 (16%) indicated that their pets had 1 or more diseases. The most common diseases were musculo-skeletal, dental, and gastrointestinal tract or hepatic disease. Many owners (n = 356) reported their pets were overweight or obese, but only 3 reported obesity as a health problem in their pets. Owners of 28 (2.5%) animals reported that they were feeding a therapeutic diet, with the most common being diets for animals with renal disease (n = 5), reduced-calorie diets (5), and reduced-fat diets (4). Owners of 107 of 1,076 (9.9%) animals reported administering dietary supplements to their pets. Multivitamins (n = 53 animals), chondroprotective agents (22), and fatty acids (13) were the most common dietary supplements used.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that most dogs and cats reported by their owners to have a health problem were not being fed a therapeutic diet. In addition, the rate of dietary supplement use was lower than that reported for people.