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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


Taurine is one of the elements in the diet that is important in managing heart health. It is an amino acid that, when deficient in the diet, can actually cause a specific form of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy, particularly in cats. In cases of heart disease caused by taurine deficiency, the supplementation of taurine to the diet can actually help resolve the symptoms of heart disease. Taurine is frequently added to the diet of animals with heart disease.

L-carnitine is another amino acid that is important in the maintenance of heart health and function. It is especially important as a source of energy for muscles. L-carnitine is frequently added as a supplement in the diet of pets with heart disease to provide an effective source of energy for the heart muscle.

Blood pressure is another concern in pets with heart disease. Though dogs and cats very seldom develop primary hypertension (high blood pressure), secondary hypertension as a result of heart disease is common and can make the symptoms of heart disease even more severe, if not controlled. As a result, a diet with restricted sodium levels is often recommended. This is not unlike the recommendation for a low-sodium diet for people with high blood pressure.

Many animals suffering from heart disease receive diuretics such as furosemide as part of their treatment. While necessary to control the fluid buildup caused by congestive heart failure, these medications can also cause excess loss of essential nutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium. To counteract these losses, these nutrients are often added to heart diets at increased levels.

As with any animal, whether healthy or ill, the most important aspect of feeding is that the diet is balanced and complete for the animal in question. Each animal must be evaluated individually and a proper diet chosen as a result of that evaluation. A diet that works well for one pet may not be the right answer for another pet.

Dr. Lorie Huston

Image: little beggers by Brittany Randolph / via Flickr


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Comments  2

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  • Blood Pressure
    10/22/2012 07:07am

    Taking blood pressure is a regular part of my critters' exams. Being unable to get a BP was instrumental in finding my Owen's HOCM and, as a result, getting him diagnosed and onto Beta Blockers and Ace Inhibitors.

    Thank goodness!

  • Furosemide
    10/23/2012 01:16am

    We took in a foster boy who had chronic diarrhea due to a hole in his heart that wasn't operable. As he wasn't expected to live very long, nutrition wasn't the issue you bring up here, but I would have liked to have paid more attention to what the furosemide was doing in the way of contributing to any deficiencies, so thanks for bringing that up on here.

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