What To Feed A Dog With Heartworms?

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Heartworm disease is a serious illness that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. It is caused by parasites that are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, which then travel into the dog’s heart and lungs, causing damage to these vital organs.

If your dog has been diagnosed with heartworms, it is important to provide them with a proper diet in order to support their recovery process. A nutritious diet can help boost your dog’s immune system, improve their overall health, and aid in their treatment plan.

The ideal diet for a dog with heartworms should be high in protein, rich in essential vitamins and nutrients, and low in fat. You may also need to adjust the amount of food you give your dog as they recover from their illness.

“Good nutrition is critical for dogs undergoing heartworm treatment. The right diet can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and keep your pet healthy.” -Dr. Karen Becker

In this article, we will explore some of the best foods to feed a dog with heartworms, as well as guidelines on how much to feed them and when to make dietary changes. Let’s dive in!

Important Nutritional Considerations for Heartworm-Positive Dogs

Nutritional Needs of Heartworm-Positive Dogs

A dog that tests positive for heartworm disease needs specialized nutrition to help combat the condition. The stress on a dog’s body from heartworms may lead to weight loss, decreased appetite, and energy depletion.

The owner should prioritize dry food options over wet foods as they contain more nutrients per serving. Dry kibble can be fortified with vitamins and minerals not present in a pet’s daily diet. Read ingredients lists carefully before making a purchase. Look for high-quality protein sources like chicken or other meats, and avoid fillers such as cornmeal.

Dogs diagnosed with heartworm are often anemic or suffer from iron deficiency due to parasite-related blood loss. Anemia manifests itself through fatigue, lethargy, pallor, and general weakness. So, it is vital to maintain the recommended balance of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which affect immune function, blood clotting, calcium absorption, and vision. Ensure iodine-rich diets to stimulate thyroid hormones, which regulate cell metabolism, growth, and repair, by sourcing fish meals and seafood ingredients in your pet’s diet plan. However, careful assessment of salt ingestion as too little or excessive salt could slow down recovery, reduce antioxidant activity, and alter kidney functions in dogs.

Importance of Proper Feeding for Heartworm Treatment

Heartworm-positive dogs undergo extensive treatment procedures under the supervision of veterinarians. One aspect of their care involves proper feeding. Most vets recommend several small meals each day rather than one or two big ones. Small portions ensure the damaged organism continues to receive nutrients throughout the healing process without overwhelming its weakened digestive system.

Vets suggest avoiding fatty foods during treatment because they can lead to pancreatitis. When a pet’s body is already compromised, added stress from heavy food may elevate enzymes and worsen the health condition.

“Proper nutrition plays an important role in supporting dogs with heartworm disease undergoing treatment,” said Dr. Jody Bearman of Anshen Veterinary Acupuncture, Madison WI. “The body needs specific nutrients to aid in recovery, so providing the recommended diet plan will contribute to your dog’s cancer healing outcomes.”

Vets recommend switching to a prescription diet following a diagnosis of heartworm, as prescribed meals are higher in essential vitamins and minerals necessary for fighting heartworm disease and boosting weight gain. Prescription diets like Hill’s Science Diet or Purina’s Pro Plan include recipes that contain protein sources while avoiding ingredients that could exacerbate symptoms; their products take into account fatty acids linked with inflammation control and immune response improvement. They also have targeted formulas available designed to aid specific ailments, such as liver health issues associated with liver problems caused by certain types of medication given during a canine’s treatment.

Hence it is crucial to maintain good communication with veterinarians throughout the treatment plan for tailored feeding recommendations to speed up the pet’s recovery time.

  • Owners need to give specific consideration to macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) when selecting a suitable meal program for their heartworm-positive pets.
  • Precision portions and proper meal spacing with appropriate dietary outreach will support them on the path towards regaining strength and improving quality of life.

Beneficial Foods for Dogs with Heartworms

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs. It is caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected animals. While there are medications available to treat the disease, it’s important to provide your furry friend with a healthy diet that can help strengthen their immune system and support their recovery. Here are some beneficial foods for dogs with heartworms:

Lean Protein Sources

Protein is an essential nutrient that helps maintain muscle mass, repair tissue damage, and boost the immune system. However, not all sources of protein are created equal. When feeding a dog with heartworms, it’s best to opt for lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs.

In addition to being low in fat, these proteins are also rich in amino acids, which are necessary for the production of antibodies and other crucial components of the immune system.

“When dealing with heartworm disease in dogs, it’s important to provide plenty of high-quality protein,” says Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian.

Fruits and Vegetables High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances found in plant-based foods that are known to help reduce inflammation and protect against cellular damage. As such, incorporating fruits and vegetables into your dog’s diet is a great way to support their overall health and wellbeing while they deal with heartworms.

Some antioxidant-rich options include blueberries, cranberries, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.

“Fruits like apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, and watermelon are excellent choices because they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, an accomplished veterinarian with over 25 years of experience.

Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. They can be found in foods such as fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.

In addition to their anti-inflammatory benefits, omega-3s have also been shown to help improve heart health, reduce joint pain, and support cognitive function – all of which can be especially beneficial for dogs dealing with heartworms.

“Incorporating omega-3’s into your dog’s diet can help support brain health, eye health, and even bone density,” says Dr. Carly Fox, a licensed veterinarian based in New York City.

Providing your furry friend with a balanced and nutrient-rich diet is key in helping them manage heartworm disease. Opting for lean protein sources, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can provide numerous health benefits and support their recovery. Just remember to always prioritize your dog’s safety and consult with your vet before making any dietary changes.

What Foods to Avoid When Feeding a Dog with Heartworms

Dogs suffering from heartworms need special attention and care when it comes to their diet. Since the disease affects the cardiovascular system, giving them the wrong foods might lead to complications or worsen their symptoms.

Foods High in Fat

Dogs require some amount of fat in their diets to maintain healthy skin and coats, but too much can result in obesity and other health problems. For dogs with heartworms, consuming too much fat may increase their risk for heart failure. It’s important to limit their intake of fatty foods such as fried meat, dairy products, and high-fat treats like bacon.

“Obesity is one of the most significant concerns following heartworm treatment due to the decreased physical activity required post-treatment” – Dr. Kate Creevy, an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

To avoid these risks, consider replacing high-fat treats with low-fat options like carrots or apple slices. Also, choosing lean protein sources such as boiled chicken, fish, turkey, beef, and lamb would allow you to control your dog’s fat intake while still providing adequate nutrition.

Foods High in Sodium

Sodium is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and fluid balance within the body. However, consuming too much sodium can lead to water retention and cause swelling, especially around the legs and abdomen. This is particularly dangerous for dogs with heartworms who already suffer from fluid buildup and difficulty breathing.

Most commercial pet foods contain high levels of sodium, so reading food labels carefully is crucial when selecting a suitable diet plan. In addition, avoiding salted meats, canned foods, and table scraps will help reduce your dog’s sodium intake significantly. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, bananas, pears, celery, and green beans.

“It is important to discuss your dog’s unique nutritional needs with your veterinarian before making any changes to their diet.” – Dr. Stephanie Lantry, an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

Foods with Artificial Additives and Preservatives

Dog foods often contain artificial preservatives, additives, and flavorings that can pose a threat to their health over time. These chemicals may weaken your dog’s immune system and cause allergic reactions or gastrointestinal issues. For dogs suffering from heartworms, consuming these substances might stress their already-compromised system further.

To avoid exposing your dog to harmful additives and preservatives, read food labels carefully. Common ingredients to avoid include propylene glycol, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and TBHQ. Instead, consider using natural preservatives like vitamin E and C when preparing your dog’s meals or make homemade meals entirely. You could also introduce probiotics and digestive enzymes into your dog’s diet to support healthy digestion.

“Feeding dogs foods filled with chemical preservatives and additives may lead to chronic diseases in different organs affecting the overall well-being of the animal.”- Dr. Ahmet Altay, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Feeding dogs with heartworms requires special attention, particularly regarding their fat, sodium, and additive intake levels. A balanced, nutritious diet will help them maintain good health while coping with this critical condition. Work closely with your veterinarian to come up with a tailored eating plan that meets your pet’s specific nutritional needs and requirements.

Supplements to Support Your Dog’s Health During Heartworm Treatment


Dogs with heartworms are often given antibiotics, which can disrupt their gut flora. Probiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut and help its body absorb nutrients from food. They also aid in maintaining a healthy immune system, reducing inflammation, and prevent diarrhea or constipation.

You should provide probiotics that contain different strains of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium, and Bifidobacterium lactis. You can either give a high-quality supplement formulated specifically for dogs or incorporate it into their diet through natural sources such as plain yogurt, kefir, canned pumpkin, or fermented vegetables. It is important to check with your veterinarian for proper doses and recommendations.

“Probiotics have been shown to improve digestive health, boost immunity, and even reduce anxiety in some animals.” – Dr. Karen Becker

Vitamins and Minerals

Nutrient deficiencies make it harder for your dog’s body to fight off infections and recover from diseases like heartworm. Providing your dog with vitamins and minerals will support overall health and function during treatment. Vitamins and minerals play key roles in many bodily processes, including bolstering the immune system.

Vitamin C helps encourage collagen production in tissue repair while vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and protects against damage by free radicals generated when fighting infection. Zinc promotes cell proliferation-related wound healing, and Vitamin A aids in white blood cell formation. Consider adding these supplements in addition to providing a balanced diet of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

“Like all other creatures, pets need a balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals to ensure their bodies function correctly,” – Dr. Jennifer Coates

Herbal Supplements

Natural sources have many benefits to your dog’s health. Herbal supplements may offer supportive therapy that can help dogs suffering from heartworm disease during treatment.

Milk Thistle enhances liver function and detoxifies blood, which could be critical in supporting heartworm healing processes. Turmeric, an antioxidant spice powder used for its anti-inflammatory properties, helps reduce inflammation caused by heartworm treatments. Additionally, supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils makes it easier for the dog’s body to fight infections and recover successfully while minimizing healing time considerably.

“With a little knowledge and effort, pet owners can provide excellent supplementary care to support total animal wellness” – Dr. Victor Tse

Joint Support Supplements

Dogs are prone to joint and bone-related issues, especially when they become older or carrying additional weight. Heartworm healers need much rest and keeping calm for months, making them vulnerable to joint discomforts because of immobility and muscular atrophy. Providing joint-support supplements can alleviate these complications and minimize pain to promote a comfortable recuperation period.

The daily addition of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate, commonly found together in joint supplements available in tablet form, provides nutritional support to joints essential for repairing cartilage and inhibiting arthritic damage. Another example is the green-lipped mussel extract, rich in antioxidants and omega-3, reduces inflammation in joint tissue.

“Giving our pets quality supplements helps to maintain or improve their overall well-being.” – Dr. Jenny Taylor

Providing your dear pets with healthy vitamins and herbal supplements coupled with proper nutrition plus abundant fresh water assures the quickest possible healing and minimizes secondary complications during their battle against heartworm. However, it would be best to inform your veterinarian about the supplements you administer while treating worms in dogs. Always remember that prevention is better than cure by maintaining routine veterinary check-ups, monthly heartworm preventatives, and a healthy lifestyle for our loving pets.

Consulting with a Veterinarian for Feeding Recommendations

Importance of Professional Advice

When dealing with heartworms, it’s important to understand that feeding your dog an appropriate diet is as crucial as administering medication. There are various factors to consider when deciding what food to feed a heartworm-infected pet. Each case is unique and requires different dietary needs based on the age, weight, and overall health of the pet.

Although there is a ton of information available online, not all of it may be accurate or appropriate for your furry friend. Therefore, the best course of action would be to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition to determine the right type and amount of food that works best for your pup.

“Quality veterinary care includes guidance by a qualified professional on your pet’s nutritional needs.” -Dr. Katy Nelson, DVM

The vet can provide you with key insights into the necessary requirements for balanced meals, including essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals that will help give your dog the strength to fight off the disease.

Customized Feeding Plan for Each Dog

A customized feeding plan is needed because no single method will work for every dog. The feeding process should start by determining the most suitable protein sources for your pup’s specific condition. High-protein diets are often recommended for dogs with heartworms, especially if they have lost weight, but it’s also important to ensure the quality of the proteins.

To maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity during treatment, the dog must receive enough calories from healthy fat sources, carbohydrates, and fiber. Additionally, hydration is essential to fight heartworms effectively. It is vital to include liquid-based foods along with a proper water intake schedule that ensures hydration throughout the day.

“Feeding high-quality, nutritionally balanced food is one of the most important things you can do for your dog.” -Association of American Feed Control Officials

Your veterinarian will be able to advise which foods and supplements to avoid during this period. They may also recommend a feeding frequency, usually dividing the day’s ration into 2-3 small meals depending on the needs of your pet.

Consulting with a qualified veterinarian ensures that your pup receives appropriate nutritional support while fighting off heartworms. The advice will specifically tailor a mixture of protein-proportioned, calorie-controlled diet that will provide all essential nutrients required by your furry friend in their unique condition.

In conclusion, there are different types of diets suitable for dogs infected with heartworms based on factors such as age, weight, and overall health conditions. A specialized veterinary point-of-view helps ensure the right combinations of proteins, fat sources, vitamins, minerals, and at times, liquid-containing foods alongside water intake schedules crucial to meet the patient’s specific dietary needs. Therefore, consulting with an experienced veterinarian specializing in nutrition is the best way to determine what to feed a dog with heartworms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best foods to feed a dog with heartworms?

High-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates are ideal for dogs with heartworms. Lean meats, fish, and vegetables like sweet potato and pumpkin are great choices. It’s also important to avoid foods high in fat and sodium, which can exacerbate heart issues.

Can heartworm medication affect a dog’s appetite?

Yes, some heartworm medications can cause digestive issues and loss of appetite. It’s important to monitor your dog’s eating habits and talk to your vet if you notice any changes. They may be able to adjust the medication or recommend a different treatment.

Are there any foods that should be avoided when feeding a dog with heartworms?

Avoid foods high in fat and sodium, as well as processed or sugary treats. These can put additional stress on the heart and make it harder for your dog to recover. It’s also important to avoid any foods your dog may be allergic to, as allergies can also impact heart health.

Can supplements help support a dog’s heart health during heartworm treatment?

Yes, certain supplements like fish oil, CoQ10, and vitamin E can help support heart health during heartworm treatment. Talk to your vet about whether supplements are appropriate for your dog and what dosage to give them.

Should a dog with heartworms be on a special diet?

While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for dogs with heartworms, it’s important to provide high-quality, nutrient-dense foods that support heart health. Your vet may recommend a specific diet or make suggestions based on your dog’s individual needs and health status.

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