Does your dog have heart problems?
If so, you may be wondering whether CBD can benefit them.
In this article, I’ll take a detailed look at the benefits of CBD for dogs with heart disease and heart failure.
Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
Differentiating Between Heart Disease and Heart Failure
Before I take a closer look at heart disease and heart failure in dogs, it’s really important to distinguish between these 2 terms:
Heart disease, as you probably guessed, is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that affect the heart and its ability to function properly.
Heart failure, on the other hand, refers to the inability of the heart to supply the body with enough blood.
Heart failure is usually the result of an underlying disease like those I outline in this article.
What are the Main Types of Heart Disease Affecting Dogs?
Heart disease is a real health concern for dogs.
Just like we can suffer from heart problems, so can our furry companions.
In fact, some estimates suggest that around 10% of dogs in the US suffer from heart disease.
The most common type of heart disease affecting pets is valvular heart disease, which accounts for roughly 70% of all cases of canine heart problems.
Heartworm is another leading cause of heart disease in dogs, as is dilated cardiomyopathy.
Here’s a bit more information about all 3 of these different types of canine heart disease:
Valvular Heart Disease
Valvular heart disease, or VHD, affects the valves of the heart that help regulate the flow of blood through the organ.
In a healthy heart, blood first enters the right atrium, which contracts and pushes the blood further into the right ventricle, which then pumps the blood to the lungs to be filled with oxygen.
From the lungs, blood then enters the left atrium.
When the atrium contracts, the blood is pushed into the left ventricle.
The ventricle then pumps the blood into the aorta and to the rest of the body.
The heart has 4 main valves which ensure that the blood always flows in the right direction through the heart.
These are the tricuspid and pulmonary valves on the right, and the mitral and aortic valve on the left.
In valvular heart disease, however, these valves become thick and deformed.
These deformities affect the proper seal of the valves and allow small amounts of blood to flow backward through the heart.
In order to compensate for this leak, the heart has to pump harder.
Over time, the heart becomes enlarged and unable to supply the body with enough blood, which is known as heart failure.
VHD is the most common form of heart disease in dogs and tends to be most common in small dogs over the age of 5.
It also tends to be more common in Cocker Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Chihuahuas, Schnauzers, and other small dog breeds.
Heartworm is a parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis.
It is transmitted by female mosquitos, who are infected when they bite a dog with heartworm.
The parasites live as larvae in the mosquito’s gut and infect a dog when it is bitten by an infected mosquito.
Heartworms live in the female mosquito as larvae and are transmitted to the dog via a bite from which they enter the animal’s bloodstream.
The larvae then migrate into the dog’s heart and adjacent blood vessels, where they mature into adult worms which can be up to 14″ (36cm) long.
The worms clog the heart and affect the proper functioning of the entire organ.
Heartworms also affect the blood flow to other parts of the body, especially vital organs like the liver, lungs, and kidneys.
Unfortunately, it can take multiple years for dogs to start showing signs of heartworm.
These signs include soft, dry coughing, shortness of breath, loss of stamina, nervousness, and weakness.
These symptoms are especially apparent after exercise, which may even cause some dogs to collapse or faint due to the inability of their heart to supply the body with enough blood.
Hence, by the time dogs do show signs, the disease is usually advanced and has already caused some serious damage to the dog’s body.
In the past, drugs used to treat heartworm contained high levels of arsenic and caused some serious, sometimes fatal side effects.
Luckily, newer treatments have been developed which can successfully treat over 90% of heartworm cases.
Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is the 3rd most common type of heart disease in dogs, accounting for roughly 10% of all cases.
Dilated cardiomyopathy causes weaker contractions of the heart and reduced efficiency of the muscle to pump blood around the body.
It is a progressive disease that, over time, causes enlarged chambers of the heart and leads to heart failure.
Dilated cardiomyopathy can also affect the valves of the heart and their ability to properly direct blood flow.
Unfortunately, the causes of dilated cardiomyopathy aren’t clear, but it tends to affect some breeds more than others.
Large, older dogs seem to be most at risk of the disease, and it is most common in breeds such as Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, and Deerhounds.
However, it can also affect smaller breeds like Cocker Spaniels.
Unfortunately, DCM doesn’t always produce signs or symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose.
Sometimes, vets might detect a slight murmur in a dog’s heart, which can be an early sign of DCM.
As the disease progresses it starts to produce more obvious signs, such as low blood pressure, fluid buildup in the lungs and abdomen, and eventually heart failure.
Coughing, lethargy, tachypnea (abnormal rapid breathing), and syncope (temporary loss of consciousness) are also signs of heart failure as a result of DCM.
Dilated cardiomyopathy can’t be cured, and treatment is usually focused on minimizing its symptoms and maximizing the functioning of the heart.
CBD, the Endocannabinoid System, and the Heart
CBD is a component found in cannabis that’s attracted a lot of media attention recently due to its huge potential as a health supplement.
And while most of the research on CBD is conducted on lab animals, in vitro, or on humans, it’s also becoming increasingly popular as a supplement for pets.
There’s a growing body of research looking into the health benefits of CBD, and studies show it can be very effective at relieving pain, inflammation, and epileptic seizures.
But what can CBD do for dogs with heart disease?
Well, research also suggests that the endocannabinoid system (which processes cannabinoids like CBD) could be a promising therapeutic target for a variety of cardiac problems.
Below I’ll take a closer look at how CBD might help promote heart health.
The Endocannabinoid System: A Therapeutic Target for Heart Conditions?
In 2013, the British Journal Of Clinical Pharmacology published a review of all the existing research into whether the cardiovascular system could be treated using cannabidiol.
The paper was written by researchers from the University of Nottingham in Derby, UK.
Some of the research reviewed in this paper showed that cannabinoids, both those produced by the body and those found in plants like cannabis, can cause vasorelaxation.
Anandamide, for example, has been shown to cause vasorelaxation in a variety of different studies.
Unfortunately, how exactly anandamide has this effect still isn’t clear, mainly because different studies point to different possible mechanisms.
Other research has also shown that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in mediating heart attacks and could be a potential target to minimize the tissue damage they cause.
Studies also show that CBD can help reduce arrhythmias and the risk of heart failure.
In 2010, the British Journal of Pharmacology published a study conducted on lab rats to test whether CBD could work as a cardioprotectant.
The rats were given CBD or a placebo 10 mins before undergoing a coronary artery occlusion and reperfusion.
In layman’s terms, the researchers basically mimicked a heart attack by causing a temporary blockage in the animal’s coronary artery.
Following the procedure, the researchers looked for arrhythmias (heartbeat irregularities) and determined the animals’ infarct size (the amount of dead tissue in the heart following a heart attack).
The study found that CBD reduced both arrhythmias and infarct size when administered prior to the procedure.
This isn’t the only study that suggests CBD has cardioprotective effects.
In 2010, the Journal of The American College Of Cardiology published a study examining the effects of CBD on diabetic cardiomyopathy.
Diabetes and heart disease are obviously very closely related, and the effects of diabetes can drive huge complications of the cardiovascular system.
Diabetic cardiomyopathy is, in a basic sense, an umbrella term for structural and functional abnormalities of the heart in people with diabetes that occur independently of hypertension or coronary artery disease.
The study examined the effects of CBD on some of the principal causes of diabetic heart issues.
It explained that diabetic cardiomyopathy was characterized by poor heart function, oxidative stress, fibrosis, enhanced cell death, blood flow disruptions (particularly in the left ventricle), and inflammation of cardiac tissue.
The researchers began their study by inducing diabetes mellitus in lab mice.
They then performed 2 experiments in which the animals received various daily doses of CBD (1mg, 10mg, or 20mg per kilogram of body weight) for either 4 or 11 weeks.
The researchers noted that the CBD helped reduce:
- Blood flow disruptions in the left ventricle.
- Oxidative stress and inflammation in muscle tissue.
- Cell death.
- Fibrosis (the thickening and hardening of connective tissue in the heart).
They also noted that CBD was extremely safe and well-tolerated by the animals, suggesting it has great therapeutic potential in treating diabetic complications and other cardiovascular issues.
What Does This Mean for Dogs With Heart Disease or Failure?
The research I’ve covered above consists of just a few studies into the effects of CBD on heart disease/failure.
Unfortunately, I can’t cover all the research in this field in a single article.
Nonetheless, the information I’ve covered shows that the endocannabinoid system clearly plays a role in managing the health and proper functioning of the heart.
It also shows that CBD, a safe and legal compound found in cannabis, may have cardio-protective effects by activating this system.
Are Other Dogs Seeings Results With CBD?
Yes, many pet owners use CBD pet products to help their pet’s manage cardiac problems.
One example I want to share is about a dog named Cooper.
Screenshot taken from: Canna-Pet.com
Cooper is a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who was diagnosed with microvascular disease when he was 7.
His vet gave him roughly 2 years to live.
As his condition progressed, Cooper’s heart became enlarged and he was soon put on a variety of medications including Rimadyl, Vetmedin, and more.
Luckily, his owners soon learned about CBD and started treating Cooper with CBD capsules and oil.
7 months later, his doctors noticed that Cooper’s heart was slightly smaller.
Cooper is still in Stage 2B of microvascular disease, but his doctors and owners have noticed a slower progression of his condition and all-round improvements to his well-being.
In fact, his owner’s were also able to wean Cooper off Rimadyl using CBD.
For more success stories from other pet owners using CBD, make sure to check out the testimonials on Canna-Pet and other pet CBD brands.
Where to Buy CBD for Your Furry Companion
If your dog suffers from heart disease or heart failure, I highly recommend trying CBD.
While it obviously isn’t a cure for the conditions I mentioned here, studies show that it can have some clear cardio-protective effects.
Right now, one of my favorite pet CBD companies is HolistaPet, and I highly recommend looking into their CBD capsules and oils for this condition in particular.
You can view their CBD oil on the official website here: www.HolistaPet.com
All of HolistaPet’s oils and capsules are available in 150mg, 300mg, and 600mg concentrations.
For more recommended brands, check out my homepage.
If you want a more detailed overview of HolistaPet, consider reading my full review here.