Dogs are increasingly struggling with diseases of the heart, liver or pancreas. Diet plays an important role in therapy. Read here what you should pay particular attention to when feeding your sick dog.
Diet for dogs with heart disease
Dogs with heart disease require a special diet. According to the nutrition expert Dr. Julia Fritz basically:
- low-salt diet (the degree depends on the severity of the disease)
- Avoiding high-salt treats and table treats
- sufficient potassium (e.g. contained in potatoes)
- Consider heart medication
- Control electrolytes in the blood
- Vitamin E, brewer’s yeast, a vitamin B complex, and omega-3 fatty acids are good for heart patients.
- Divide the daily ration into several small meals
Caution: Regardless of the type of illness your dog has, it is important to talk to your veterinarian about which food is particularly suitable for your dog. You should also always discuss any dietary supplements with him before you give them to your dog.
Low sodium food for dogs with heart disease
In advanced stages of heart disease, other organs such as the liver or kidneys are often affected. If the kidneys are affected, the body often stores more sodium and thus water because it can no longer excrete it completely through the kidneys.
Because normal dog food is too high in sodium, the dog with heart disease needs special heart diet food, which of course has to be given for life. Ready-made products are available from the vet, but you can also prepare appropriate bland food yourself. As nutrition expert Dr. Fritz explains that in very severe cases the dog should not be given tap water because of the sodium content, but distilled water or low-sodium mineral water, which is also suitable for babies.
Barf for dogs with heart disease?
In the expert’s experience, classic BARF rations, in which no carbohydrates are fed, are not suitable for heart patients because of the high protein content. This can be particularly problematic in dogs where the kidneys or liver are also damaged, as these organs play a major role in protein breakdown. When barfing, the meat ration should definitely be supplemented with carbohydrates and also be of top quality.
Special case in dogs with heart disease: cardiomyopathy
A special case of heart disease is the pathological enlargement of the heart (dilated cardiomyopathy), which occurs mainly in large dog breeds. Carnitine levels are often too low in this disease. Carnitine is an amino acid compound that is important for fat burning.
Scientists also suspect a lack of taurine, also an amino acid, as one of the triggering factors. A feed supplement with taurine and carnitine can therefore help dogs with heart disease.
Food for dogs with liver disease
Diet plays a very important role in liver disease, as the liver is the main detoxification organ in the body. The correct feeding of protein is particularly important: “If you feed a lot of meat, it puts a strain on the liver,” explains nutrition expert Dr. Fritz. How much protein the dog can get depends on the specific liver disease. “In any case, you must use high-quality protein,” says the expert.
The following points should be considered when feeding dogs with liver disease:
- only high-quality muscle meat, never meat with a lot of connective tissue
- no innards of any kind, also no pizzles, pig’s ears & Co
- A combination of muscle meat and dairy products (e.g. quark or cottage cheese) is ideal.
- A balanced amount of vegetables and fiber stimulate digestion.
- Too much copper can destroy cells in the liver in some diseases.
- Vitamin E, zinc and fish oil are good.
- In the case of liver degeneration, supplementation with vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid or rosehip powder is recommended.
If you want to use ready-made food, you can get special diet food from the vet.
BARF for dogs with liver disease?
If you want to barf for your dog with liver disease, these points are important:
- Top quality meat
- Combine with carbohydrates
- Advice from nutrition experts
Individual adaptation to each dog (e.g. illness, taste preferences, energy requirements, etc.)
If the dog has hepatic encephalopathy, a brain dysfunction caused by the liver’s insufficient detoxification function, fermentable fibers (e.g. pectin), lactulose or lactose can be used to try to make the digestive tract more acidic in the large intestine. If the pH is below 6.5, ammonia is converted to ammonium and excreted in the feces. It doesn’t get back into the bloodstream and doesn’t put a strain on the liver.
Fortunately, the liver has a high ability to regenerate, so the special diet may be discontinued after a while, depending on the cause of the disease.
Food for pancreatic disease
In the case of inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), care should be taken to eat a low-fat diet. In chronic cases, one should also not feed too much protein, so as not to stimulate the digestive juices too much.
BARF for dogs with pancreatitis?
If you want to cook or barf yourself, you should note the following:
- only feed lean meat
- add little or no oil
- Barf rations with a fat content of more than 30 percent in relation to dry matter must be “diluted” with carbohydrates
- Supply zinc through special dietary supplements
- All important trace elements, minerals, and vitamins must be included!
- Discuss this with a nutritionist or vet first!
No matter what you feed, spread the daily ration over two to three meals if possible.
A chronic patient needs a special diet on a permanent basis. Even with pancreatitis that has subsided, lean food should continue to be given, since the disease can be triggered again and again. Feeding that is too fatty can be the reason.
Diet in the hypoactive pancreas
If the pancreas is underactive (endocrine pancreatic insufficiency), too few digestive enzymes are produced. Classic symptoms of this are:
- weight loss
- huge amounts of feces
- undigested food components
- frequent defecation
The following aspects are important when feeding dogs with hypoactive pancreas:
- Feed with high digestibility.
- Inject a vitamin B12 cure at regular intervals.
- Depending on the dog’s body condition, divide the daily ration into several portions per day (five to six meals are often necessary if the dog is very underweight).
- When cooking for yourself: no innards that are difficult to digest, but high-quality muscle meat, heart, dairy products, and digested carbohydrates.
- Add digestive enzymes.
The digestive enzymes do the body’s work outside of the small intestine. “For some dogs it is sufficient to give this over the food half an hour before eating, for others it has to be pre-digested in the bowl for four hours. It smells like vomit, but it doesn’t bother the dog,” says expert Dr. Fritz.