How CBD Can Help with Heart Disease in Dogs
Many people don’t realize their dogs can get heart disease just like humans do or that there is such as a thing as a dog heart attack. This post will explain all you need to know about heart disease and congenital heart failure in dogs as well as CBD heart benefits that may make a life-saving difference for your pet.
What is Heart Disease in Dogs?
There are several conditions that fall under the category of heart disease. Coronary artery diseases that humans are more likely to get from their diet, is not a huge problem for dogs, though they can get it.
There are unfortunately plenty of other heart diseases for them to potentially get. All of these diseases are very serious, leading to diminished quality of life and the potential for heart attacks and strokes in dogs.
Most Common Types of Heart Disease in Dogs
Canine Valvular Heart Disease
Canine Valvular heart disease is a thickening and breakdown of the valves of the heart. There are valves that are between the chambers of the heart as well as leaving the ventricles. When these valves get thick and breakdown they can not close properly causing a back-flow of blood.
Heartworm disease comes from a dog being bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae. These nasty parasites (are there any parasites that aren’t nasty), multiply in the dog’s vascular system, impeding the workings of the heart and larger blood vessels.
They can grow fast and live a long time, eventually completely clogging the dog’s vascular system if not treated. Treated heartworm disease can still leave permanent damage if the disease progressed far enough.
Myocardial disease is caused from the heart muscle overworking which causes thickening of the wall of the heart. This leads to a smaller chamber inside the heart for blood.
Mitral Valve Disease
Mitral Valve Disease involves the development of a weak valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle, and it usually more common in small dogs.
Canine Cardiac Arrhythmias
Canine Cardiac Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats that come about because of a problem with the electrical impulses controlling heartbeat.
Canine Pericardial disease involves the buildup of fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart and restricts its normal beating.
Congenital Heart Defects
There are a host of congenital heart defects as well, meaning they are inherited and being at birth though the symptoms may not appear until later.
Congestive Heart Failure
Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure, where the heart either becomes too thick and rigid to fill properly, too weak and unsubstantial to pump properly, or the valves become so dysfunctional that they cause severe lack of blood flow.
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs
Most heart diseases in dogs will cause some of the same symptoms:
- difficult breathing
- shortness of breath
- reduction or increase in appetite
- weight loss or gain
- swollen abdomen
- unwillingness to exercise
- dry coughing after exercise
- dry coughing at night
Causes of Heart Disease in Dogs?
Sometimes dogs just inherited the tendency to get heart disease. If a breeder discovers one of their dogs has an inheritable heart disease, they are supposed to stop breeding them. But dogs not bred deliberately have no such protections and even those protections for bred dogs may not be foolproof.
Heartworms cause a specific kind of heart disease and the dog gets it from being bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae.
Obesity and/or a poor diet can cause heart disease in dogs, much like it does in humans. However, obesity in dogs causing heart disease is not very common.
Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop specific heart diseases. It is important to discuss risk factors for heart disease with your licensed veterinarian.
Dogs are also just more likely to develop a heart disease as they get older. It’s not guaranteed, but the risk naturally increases. You should be on the lookout for symptoms of heart disease at this point and proactive about protecting the dog’s heart.
Preventing Heart Disease in Dogs
Educate yourself on your dog’s breed and risk factors for heart disease. There may be particular recommendations for preventing the heart disease they are prone to.
Maintain recommended vet visits to catch heart disease early.
Do not fall prey to the fat dog is a cute dog temptation, no matter how tempting it is. Excess weight can hinder your dog’s quality of life and lead to heart disease.
Be mindful of diet. Dog foods can contain too much fat. Peas, lentils, legumes, and potatoes can be found in dog foods and they can cause Myocardial disease. Grain-free dog foods may also present problems.
As you might tell from the foods already mentioned, human food should be withheld or greatly limited. You could speak to your vet about your dog’s diet in relation to their individual heart health.
Choose a heartworm prevention medication or natural prevention method to keep your dog from getting heartworms.
Outlook for a Dog with Heart Disease
We’ll start with the worst-case scenarios first.
Heart disease in dogs can lead to:
- heart attacks
- muscle wasting
- severe weight loss
- difficulty breathing
- no desire or ability to play or exercise
- trouble sleeping
- leg swelling
- limited mobility from lack of energy or severe muscle wasting
- nutritional deficiencies
- poor quality of life
The positive side is that your dog can live a long and happy life with heart disease, if you catch it early and are proactive with their health.
Routine checkups and preventative measures are the safest way to protect your dog from heart disease and to catch it early.
Second to that, you want to get them to the vet at the earliest signs of a problem.
Some signs you should take your dog to the vet (aside from routine checkups):
- if a dog has a cough that lasts longer than three days
- any sign of shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- a change in behavior
- a decrease in excitement about exercise and play
- shortened play times
- restlessness at night
- a potbelly
- decreased appetite
Diagnosing Heart Disease in Dogs
The diagnostic process may include:
- listening to symptoms
- visual inspection of dog’s behavior and appearance
- listening to their heart
- cardiac catheterization
- blood tests
- urine tests
Treatment Options for Heart Disease in Dogs
Diet is important for improving symptoms and outcome for a dog with heart disease and heart failure. You will need to discuss this with your licensed veterinarian because there is no one diet that helps with heart problems.
Different conditions and stages have different diet requirements. Your dog may need to reduce sodium intake, gain muscle, lose weight, correct nutrient deficiencies, add nutrients that strengthen the heart, and more.
Heartworm treatments consist of killing or removing the heartworms.
It is common for heartworm treatments to cause:
- loss of appetite
- lack of thirst
- muscle tremors
- dilated pupils
One treatment method is surgery to remove all heartworms from the dog’s heart and blood stream.
Some heartworm treatments contain arsenic and cause inflammation. No one wants to give a dog an arsenic-based medication, which is one reason why vets so strongly urge heartworm protection.
When a dog’s heart disease has become congestive heart failure, veterinarians typically prescribe ACE-inhibitors, or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. These treat the symptoms and lengthen the life of the dog by relaxing the blood vessels.
ACE-inhibitors can cause serious side effects:
Long-term use of ACE-inhibitors and using ACE-inhibitors with other medications requires routine medical evaluation to ensure other health conditions do not occur, such as abnormally high levels of nitrogen in the blood or renal issues.
Dogs can be allergic to ACE-inhibitors. They also interact with a bunch of other medications and pregnant and lactating dogs can’t use them.
When fluid buildup is a factor, veterinarians sometimes prescribe diuretics to reduce the buildup.
Side effects of diuretics in high quantities include:
- excess thirst
- decreased urination
- low blood pressure
None of these are exactly bad drugs. They can be life-savers for your dog, if the side effects or other health concerns don’t make it impossible for them to take them.
Medicinal heartworm preventatives are controversial. Many people don’t like maintaining a constant or seasonal dose of a drug in their dog just to prevent a disease, particularly when the drug can have serious and life-threatening side effects.
Side effects of heartworm prevention medications include:
But heartworms can cause permanent damage to the dog’s vascular system and the treatments are at least as scary, if not often more so, than the preventatives.
If you decide medicinal heartworm preventatives are not right for your dog, discuss holistic alternatives with your vet, or seek a holistic vet. Unless your dog has virtually no chance of encountering a mosquito, some prevention is necessary.
How CBD Can Help with Heart Disease in Dogs
CBD oil is one of the most popular and natural ways to manage heart disease in dogs. It may also be used as a way to possibly ease the side effects of the traditional medications so that your dog can continue to use it.
CBD oil can help dogs with heart disease by:
- decreasing inflammation
- managing pain
- calming anxiety
- reducing the frequency and severity of seizures
- potentially protecting the heart itself from arrhythmias and infarctions
- protecting the brain from and repairing brain damage
- reducing nausea
- improving appetite
- helping them sleep
- replacing nutrients
Risks Associated with CBD Oil
CBD oil poses few concerns. There is no known instance of a CBD oil overdose. if you give a dog too much CBD oil, they may experience side effects such as sedation, loss of appetite, or diarrhea.
CBD oil does alter how the dog’s liver absorbs medications, so their vet should know that they are being given CBD oil so they can dose any other medications accordingly.
The science is new regarding CBD oil, so no one is as familiar with the effectiveness or the risks as they are with traditional medications.
It makes a safe and alternative treatment for heart disease should the dog not respond to traditional medications, not being able to take traditional medications, or need relief from the side effects of traditional medications in order to continue taking them.
It is wise to keep your dog’s vet abreast of your use of CBD oil to ensure it is doing for your dog what you’re purchasing it for.
Using CBD Oil
The first step is to find a CBD oil product for pets.
CBD oil comes in several forms for pets to suit your needs and their tastes:
- oil tinctures
- extract concentrates
Treats are the most fun and therefore the easiest to get in a dog. If your dog hates taking medicine, these may be the way to go. They come in both crunchy and chewy forms to suit each individual doggy’s taste buds.
Oil tinctures are also pretty easy as they are often flavored and come in a convenient liquid form that can be administered by drops or sprays. Your dog may take this fine directly by mouth or you may apply it to their food.
Some tinctures are not flavored. If your dog doesn’t like them, you can always add it to a food that can mask the distinctive hemp taste. Tinctures offer the greatest control for varying doses, particularly ones with droppers.
Extract concentrates are like oil tinctures except that they are just CBD oil and come out in thick little beads. You can measure the number of drops to get the dose you want. These also can be given directly by mouth or applied to food.
Capsules eliminate any taste concerns and are easy to give to dogs who are tolerant of the powder in the pills.
Dosing CBD Oil
Some CBD oil products, like capsules and treats will have a certain dose per capsule or treat stated on the product packaging. You can increase the dosage as needed by giving another capsule or treat.
Other CBD oil products tell you how much cannabidiol is in one measurement of the product, a drop, spray, or bead. You then measure out how many of these to give to reach the dose desired.
Research the suggested dose of CBD for the dog’s ailment, whether it is the heart condition itself, to sleep, to improve digestion, etc. Then start with the lowest recommended dose and work up in increments to whatever achieves results for your dog.
It’s important to increase gradually, otherwise you won’t be able to accurately judge the effectiveness of the dose. Cannabidiol begins working immediately, but the full effects may not appear for a few weeks.
It would be needless to increase the dose before this time, unless the dog’s ailment is so dire or they are in so much pain that they can’t wait.
You can gradually increase their dose in as short a time as two days or use CBD oil with another treatment until the full effects can be seen.
Do be aware that very small, large, young, old, or sick dogs require different dosages. Consult a vet or our cbd dosing guide for specific dosing for the individual dog.
Purchasing CBD Oil
Before purchasing CBD oil, you’ll need to know some things to look for.
Full-spectrum vs CBD isolate
When it comes to full spectrum vs CBD isolate, it’s important to note their differences and what might work best for your needs. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains other cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients found in the hemp plant while CBD isolate is just cannabidiol. Most people actually prefer full-spectrum, attracted to the additional benefits, but some people say CBD isolate works best for their needs.
The choice of which one to start with is up to you, but if your dog has a digestive symptom, they may gain additional benefits from the nutrients in full-spectrum CBD oil.
Some CBD oil manufacturers are, tragically, not what they claim. The ones who are reputable prove this by providing third-party lab test results showing what is in their products and what is not. This way you know you’re buying what you think you’re buying.
You should check the website for the CBD oil product to see where the manufacturer says they acquired their CBD oil or hemp. Some grow it themselves while others get the CBD oil from someone else. Both are okay as long as they say it was grown in a country with safe growing regulations.
Some extraction methods are better than others, like the CO2 extraction method. Choose it. It’s the safest and purest.
Select a CBD oil product that contains as few ingredients as possible and only ones that are necessary and safe. You should very easily be able to find natural and organic CBD oil products as well.
Innovations from Innovet
Innovet creates scientifically-backed CBD oil products for dogs and cats to treat and provide relief for hard-to-treat ailments like heart disease in dogs. We understand that hard-to-treat means there are many niches to fill and many unique pet cases to address, so if your dog can’t be helped with the CBD oil products that are already on the market, let us know so we can see if we can help your dog.
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. We Love You!
The Innovet Team
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CBD and Heart Health
What to Know About CBD for Heart Failure, Cholesterol, and Blood Pressure
Lindsay Curtis is a health writer with over 20 years of experience in writing health, science & wellness-focused articles.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Jeffrey S. Lander, MD, is a board-certified cardiologist and the President and Governor of the American College of Cardiology, New Jersey chapter.
Heart health is one of the areas being explored to determine the therapeutic health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). Nearly 655,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, accounting for one in every four deaths.
CBD cannot cure heart disease or congestive heart failure, but it is being studied for ways it may help reduce symptoms or prevent heart disease. However, CBD has not been shown in large studies to prevent diseases that lead to heart failure.
Read on to learn more about CBD’s benefits for the heart, what CBD oil is, side effects, and forms of CBD oil.
Verywell / Jessica Olah
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol oil is extracted from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. CBD is a chemical that’s unique to the cannabis plant. The two major cannabinoids contained in cannabis plants are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): It has psychoactive properties that create a “high” feeling.
- Cannabidiol (CBD): It has no psychoactive effects but provides several therapeutic benefits.
Both CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body. The ECS is a complex biological system that impacts many of the body’s functions, including appetite, memory, mood, and sleep. Researchers are learning that the endocannabinoid plays a role in the function of the cardiovascular (heart) system.
A growing body of evidence shows that dysregulated ECS is associated with a number of cardiovascular diseases. Whether you have a heart condition or want to prevent heart disease, CBD may boost your endocannabinoid system to help it regulate the cardiovascular system.
Overview of Heart Failure
Heart disease is an umbrella term that refers to several types of heart conditions. Heart disease may involve the heart valves, arteries, and heart rate, leading to heart failure.
Heart failure is a serious health condition in which the heart isn’t pumping the way it should be. The body depends on the heart’s pumping action to deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to all of its cells.
With heart failure, the heart cannot supply the body’s cells with enough blood, leading to symptoms that can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life.
Heart failure has a number of causes, including genetics, other medical conditions (e.g., anemia, diabetes, sleep apnea), and lifestyle (e.g., smoking, obesity).
Symptoms of heart failure vary, depending on the type and severity of heart failure you have. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Bluish-colored fingers and/or lips
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble concentrating
- Inability to sleep when lying flat
CBD and Heart Health
CBD has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative properties that may help reduce risk factors that can lead to heart disease. It may also be helpful in reducing the risk of related conditions, such as stroke.
Research suggests that even a single dose of CBD can lower blood pressure. High blood pressure has been linked to congestive heart failure. This is because high blood pressure makes it more difficult for blood to travel easily throughout the body, causing the heart to work harder.
While more research is needed to be sure, CBD may be helpful in lowering blood pressure to prevent congestive heart failure.
CBD oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce cholesterol levels to improve heart health. Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) found in the blood.
High cholesterol levels—particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka “bad” cholesterol—increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. LDL can build up in the lining of blood vessels, causing a blockage that can lead to heart attack or stroke.
CBD has properties that help relax arterial walls, which research suggests may help reduce blood pressure and excess cholesterol. In animal studies, CBD has been shown to increase HDL levels—aka “good” cholesterol—and lower LDL levels after four weeks of CBD supplementation.
CBD is perhaps best known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that inflammation may be at the root of many chronic illnesses. Heart disease is associated with inflammation. Inflamed blood vessels make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
One study found that CBD has a direct effect on the arteries, helping reduce inflammation and improving blood flow. This suggests that CBD reduces inflammation in arteries and blood vessels, easing the strain on the heart, potentially preventing heart failure.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of congestive heart failure, which is one reason why it is important to maintain a healthy weight for optimal heart health. There is some evidence to suggest that CBD may help maintain a healthy weight.
One study found that CBD promotes the browning of white fat cells, which aids in converting the fat into burnable calories. This is beneficial because brown fat cells contain more mitochondria than white fat cells, which helps burn calories. White fat cells contain droplets of fat that accumulate around the body and can lead to obesity.
Are There Any Side Effects?
CBD has few side effects, and the World Health Organization states that it is generally well tolerated and has a good safety profile. While relatively safe, there are a few things to consider before you try CBD.
If you are currently taking any other medications, speak with your doctor before trying CBD. Some research suggests that CBD may interfere with the way the liver processes certain medications.
This interference may prevent the liver from metabolizing other medications as it normally would, leading to higher concentrations of the medication in the body and increasing the risk of liver toxicity.
Best CBD for Heart Health
CBD comes in many different forms, including oils and tinctures, edibles, topicals, and vaporizers. Taking CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue) is an easy way to enjoy the benefits. Using sublingual oils tends to work faster and produce stronger results than other edible products, such as gummies.
Vaping CBD is a fast way of delivering CBD into your system, but it is not recommended for individuals with heart disease. Vaping is associated with lung damage, and research shows it causes an increased risk in developing cardiovascular disease.
There are a number of CBD types to choose from. Understanding these differences can help you choose which type is best for your needs. These types include:
- Isolate: CBD is the only cannabinoid contained in the product.
- Full-spectrum: Contains multiple naturally occurring cannabis plant extracts, including terpenes, other cannabinoids, and up to 0.3% THC.
- Broad: Contains CBD and other components/cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but does not contain any THC.
The availability of these products varies from state to state, particularly for products that contain THC.
If you’re just starting off with CBD, try a small dose first. Watch for any side effects. If you wish, you can slowly increase your dosage (no more than 5 to 10 mg increase at a time) until you find the dosage that is right for you.
How to Buy CBD
With so many CBD options available, shopping for the right product can be an overwhelming experience. Some important things to keep in mind when buying CBD include:
- Cannabis source: CBD is derived from cannabis plants, and it’s important the CBD is sourced from a company that takes care in the quality and cultivation of their plants. Look for products that come from organic plants when possible.
- Certificate of Analysis (CoA): Responsible, reputable manufacturers offer a CoA that clearly states the amounts of cannabinoids in a product. CoAs are conducted by an independent, accredited lab.
- Read the label: Read the full list of ingredients contained in CBD to know what you are consuming.
- Type of CBD: To get the best results, look for full-spectrum or broad CBD products. These may offer an “entourage effect,” combining the effects of multiple cannabis compounds that work in synergy to offer the most benefits.
CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. Researchers are looking into ways it could be beneficial for heart health. While it has few side effects, it may slow liver metabolism and affect other medications you are taking.
Cannabidiol comes in several forms and methods of application. People with heart disease should avoid products that require vaping or smoking.
A Word From Verywell
While CBD is not a cure for heart failure, it may prevent further damage thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD may be helpful in reducing blood pressure, decreasing inflammation and cholesterol, and maintaining a healthy weight. Improving these factors may reduce the risk of heart failure.
Speak with your doctor before trying CBD, particularly if you are on any other medications or dietary supplements. Your doctor can let you know if it is safe to take, and may have product and/or dosage recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
How safe is CBD for congestive heart failure?
CBD is generally considered to be safe for congestive heart failure. Research shows no significant adverse effects of CBD at a wide range of doses (anywhere from 3 to 1,200 mg/day).
CBD has significant potential to treat a variety of heart diseases and comes with few adverse side effects, though more research is needed. Talk with your doctor before using CBD for heart disease, particularly if you are currently taking any other medications.
Does CBD lead to heart problems?
CBD alone does not lead to heart problems. However, CBD is broken down and metabolized by the liver. During this process, it may interfere with your medications for any heart conditions you have. This may lead to liver problems or interfere with the effectiveness of any medications you are taking.
Exercise caution and speak with your doctor before using CBD for heart failure.
Can CBD cause heart palpitations?
The cardiovascular effects of CBD are currently being studied. Some research suggests that cannabis use may cause arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) or tachycardia (increase in heart rate).
However, those studies included products that also contain THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. More research is needed to determine if CBD causes heart palpitations.