Heart Healthy, Reduced Sodium Whole Food Diets Are Great for All Dogs

Good foods to fight cardiovascular disease in dogs

Veterinarian and Client Seek Human Grade Dog Food for Patient with Cardiovascular Disease

Dani Cimino, DVM and her client, Nancy Shatz, recently approached Goodness Gracious looking for a low sodium dog food for Nancy’s dog, Jilly.  Jilly (age 10) was recently diagnosed with heart disease.

Jilly’s echocardiogram showed that Jilly had mitral and tricuspid valvular regurgitation (i.e. two leaky heart valves).  The doctor recommended that Jilly be fed a diet with a sodium content of approximately 50 mg/100 kcal.  Nancy was directed to a list of reduced sodium dog foods published by Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine for her to consider. (We've shared this list below.)

“The challenge with that list is quality and compliance," said Dr. Cimino.  "The products on that list are traditional kibble or canned varieties.  While they may be affordable complete and balanced options, they are ‘feed grade.’  I would not want my own dogs to eat ‘feed grade’ nutrition. Plus, some dogs have more discerning taste buds and may not eat those products,” she stated.

Nancy had been giving Jilly one of the popular gently cooked, human grade home delivered diets.  She wanted to continue feeding Jilly a high quality, human grade food, but needed one lower in sodium. 

Dr. Cimino’s two dogs had recently achieved their weight loss goals using Goodness Gracious’ gently cooked human grade foods.  She liked the quality and thought Goodness Gracious might have a reduced sodium option for Jilly.

“I asked Goodness Gracious a lot of questions about their food, and I loved the answers and the hand-holding,” said Nancy. 

Goodness Gracious Gently Cooked Dog Food Supports Heart Health

Goodness Gracious 100% whole food diets meet the sodium requirements of all healthy adult dogs, and those requiring mild to moderate sodium restriction.  The sodium in their four varieties ranges from 55 mg/100 kcal in their Pork and Salmon Recipe, to 83 mg/100 kcal in their Turkey Recipe.

“I am feeding Jilly the Pork and Salmon Recipe and she loves it.  I love that I found a human grade brand that I can trust, and that the food is also high in lean protein with a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids to support Jilly’s heart,” said Nancy.

Reduced Sodium Human Grade Gently Cooked Dog Food For Cardiovascular Disease

The AAFCO minimum requirement for sodium is 20 mg/100 kcal.  Like most nutrients, AAFCO does not establish a maximum limit on sodium.   Reduced sodium dog foods are typically classified as those at or below 100 mg / 100 kcal. 

“Moderate sodium restriction is a fine idea for any dog, and healthy canine diets have an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio between 10:1 to 1:1, with 1:1 being the best,” said Dr. Cimino.  She added that she recommends VRS Omega-3s to clients who need to amp up the healthy fats in their dogs’ current diets.

The Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio in Goodness Gracious’ Pork and Salmon recipe is 4:1; and the Beef Recipe nears the bullseye with a 1.6:1 ratio and only 63 mg/ 100 kcal of sodium.  As minimally processed, 100% whole food diets these recipes contain many natural compounds that support a healthy heart.

Healthy Fats, Phytonutrients, Antioxidants Are Important Dietary Components

Most of the Omega-3 fatty acids in Goodness Gracious’ complete and balanced diets for adult dogs come from Icelandic mackerel, herring, sardine and anchovy which are recognized by the National Research Council as the safest, cleanest and most abundant fish. They are high in the Omega-3's eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Other ingredients like broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, sunflower seeds, walnut oil and eggs that are packed into Goodness Gracious’ dog foods are supportive of cardiovascular health.  Scientific studies show that linoleic acid in sunflower seeds, alpha-linolenic acid ("ALA") in walnut oil, and choline in eggs reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), raise HDL (good cholesterol), and improve circulation and blood pressure.

Swiss chard’s antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and alpha-lipoic acid are associated with multiple vascular benefits like reduced blood pressure and endothelial cell health.  Broccoli and kale’s phytonutrients like sulforaphane, carotenoids, and quercetin have been shown to decrease inflammation and improve cardiovascular health too.

Looking to add more CoQ10 to your dog’s heart healthy diet?  Goodness Gracious’ Beef Recipe is made with pasture raised beef heart, a muscle meat rich in this powerful antioxidant.

High Protein is Critical for Cardiovascular Health

human grade gently cooked reduced sodium high protein dog food

Cummings School veterinary nutritionist Deborah Linder, DVM DAVCN says “it is important to be mindful of protein. As a dog’s heart disease becomes more severe, she can have cachexia — a loss of lean body mass. You don’t want to combine that with not consuming enough protein in the diet. That makes for chaos. In fact, if you don’t provide enough protein in the dog’s food, her body will be even more likely to break down its own muscle mass to get it.”

Any dog food declaring on the label that it is complete and balanced according to the nutrient profiles established by AAFCO (the American Association of Feed Control Officials) will have an appropriate amount of protein for a dog with heart disease. “But you want to go on the high side,” Dr. Linder stresses.

How does Goodness Gracious’ food compare to the others on the Tufts’ list for protein? With an average of 14 grams / 100 kcal, it tops the list.

The graphic below shows how Goodness Gracious’ dog food recipes compare to others on the reduced sodium dog food list from Tufts.

Reduced Sodium Dog Foods for Heart Health and Cardiovascular Disease