By Dr. Becker
Heart disease is the second most common cause of death in dogs. Oxidative stress is known to cause damage to many types of cardiovascular cells, and is linked to the onset and progression of various forms of canine heart disease.
Oxidative stress is defined as physiological stress on the body caused by the cumulative damage of free radicals inadequately neutralized by antioxidants. Free radicals are unstable molecules with an uneven number of electrons. They travel around your dog's body looking to bond with stable molecules in order to steal an electron and stabilize themselves. When they are successful, they create new unstable molecules with uneven numbers of electrons. The result is oxidative stress.
Since antioxidants have a neutralizing effect on free radicals, they help protect the heart and other organs from the oxidative stress that leads to cell damage and disease. And studies have shown that integrating a combination of antioxidant compounds rather than taking a “monodimensional” approach is more effective in preventing and managing heart disease.
Pomegranate Extract Shows Promise in Prevention and Treatment of Canine Cardiac Disease
In a study published last year in the Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine1, scientists developed a new oxidative stress assay to evaluate the antioxidant effects of four substances: L-carnitine, taurine, pomegranate extract, and soy isoflavone extract. The four substances were analyzed alone and in combination using the new assay and two free radical scavenging assays.
The results of the study, according to researchers, suggest that:
“Pomegranate extract, alone and in combination with the other substances, possesses significant strong antioxidant and cytoprotective activities in canine endothelial cells. Data from this and other published studies suggest that these natural substances could be of interest when developing a multidimensional dietary strategy to reduce the onset and progression of oxidative stress-induced canine disease and perhaps more specifically the endothelial degeneration involved in progressive valvular insufficiencies.”
Studies with human cells also indicate that the high concentrations of polyphenols contained in pomegranate have strong antioxidant and cytoprotective properties. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, there is evidence that consumption of pomegranate juice is beneficial for human patients with narrowing of the carotid artery, hypertension, high blood cholesterol levels, and coronary artery disease.
Additional Tips for Keeping Your Dog's Heart Healthy
- A supplement I always recommend to support heart health in both dogs and cats is CoQ10, or more specifically, ubiquinol, which is the reduced form of CoQ10. Ubiquinol is a powerhouse, providing energy to the cells of every organ in the body. It is an antioxidant, supports heart, kidney and nervous system health, boosts immune function, helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, promotes muscle recovery after exercise, slows the progression of organ degeneration, and even helps prevent plaque buildup and inflammation of gum tissue.
- Other natural substances that support heart function include herbs such as Hawthorne berry and cayenne, acetyl L-carnitine, taurine, arginine, D-ribose, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Make sure your pet’s diet is loaded with fresh, human grade meat. Meat is your pet’s best source of important amino acids for heart health.
- Help your dog maintain a good body weight through regular aerobic exercise.
- Take excellent care of your dog's dental health (bacteria from dirty mouths has been linked to heart disease in dogs).
- Ask your veterinarian for the proBNP blood test. This test can give you peace of mind that your dog has no early signs of heart disease. It’s a simple blood test with a fast turn-around time that can provide the information you need to proactively manage your dog’s heart health.