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How to feed a cardiac dog or cat?

Some dietetic ranges contain products specially designed for cardiac deficiency. Canistar / Félistar range does not contain any : why ?

Cardiac disease has got multiple causes but the result is always the same : the cardiac pump is less efficient and clinical signs prove circulatory problems. The symptoms vary according to the seriousness of the cardiac failure :

  • 1st stage : no clinical sign, possible heart murmurs heard at the auscultation
  • 2nd stage : cough at night, exercise inducing respiratory difficulties
  • 3rd stage : constant respiratory difficulties, increased cardiac frequency.

Cardiac deficiency and its treatment have metabolic and nutritional consequences that must be well-known : if necessary, the diet can be adapted to the troubles observed.

1) According to the bodyweight evolution, it is sometimes necessary to modify the daily diet and the energetic concentration of the food:

  • restriction is advised when overweight is obvious, because of physical activity dropping down ; cardiac disease considerably worsens in case of excessive bodyweight ;
  • augmentation for cachectic animals.

2) Diuretics increase water consumption : fresh and clean water must be always available.

3) B vitamins urinary loss are enhanced by diuretics : food intake must make up for these loss.

RCCI Size, Feline Nutrition and Canistar-Félistar products contain a lot of B vitamins : more than twice the minimum AAFCO recommandations.

4) Theoritically increased by diuretics effects, potassium depletion is generally compensated by an average potassium content (around 0,5 %) as in ROYAL CANIN products.

In addition, some vasodilatator agents (Angiotensin Conversion Enzyme inhibitors = ACE inhibitors) are more and more used in the treatment of cardiac deficiency and they encourage potassium retention.
Potassium supplementation can only be justified by serologic examinations.

5) Actual scientific knowledge is not sufficient to prove the real efficiency of a severe dietary sodium restriction.

Indeed, at the difference of what happens in human medicine, dog's or cat's hypertension is usually not the cause of the troubles observed. Though, sodium restriction alone cannot do much ; it has to go with a medical treatment.

This treatment is generally based on diuretics prescription : so, even if cardiac disease diminish the spontaneous sodium excretion, there is no reason to fear an excessive sodium retention : sodium is naturally excreted in urine. Moreover, the more and more frequent association with vasodilatator agents (noticed upper) makes this urinary excretion even more efficient.

A too restrictive diet may even promote serious dehydration because of sodium deficiency or hyponatremia.

Considering all these reasons, it is not really necessary to have artificially lowered-salt diets to go with cardiac disease therapy. In addition, this restriction worsens palatability problems that frequently occur in case of cardiac deficiency..

"Heart-diets" are more justified by marketing reasons than dietetic ones.

In dietetics, "too little" is as dangerous as "too much". This is why sodium excess is also to avoid because it can make some diseases worse, as for renal deficiency.

Maintenance ROYAL CANIN products from RCCI Size, Feline Nutrition and Canistar-Félistar ranges do not contain any added salt: the sodium level of the diet is only the result of what is brought by the ingredients.The average sodium content of these products is limited : 0,35 to 0,4 % on dry matter.

These levels are low compared to other prepared petfoods ; for palatability reasons, petfood manufacturers do not hesitate to add salt to their products: canned petfood easily contain 1,0 to 1,5 % of sodium on dry matter, which is 15 to 25 times more than the strict sodium requirements of the dog !


Let us remember that most often, the treats themselves are responsible for an excessive salt intake :

  • 100 g of chips, dry and/or smoked fish, delicatessen, contain about 1000 mg of sodium or 1 % ;
  • some kinds of cheese (Gruyère, Roquefort, Brie ...) contain up to 1500 mg per 100 g or 1,5 %

A 5 kg toy Poodle who receive 20 g of one of these cheeses has got his sodium requirements met for 5 days !

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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