Be on guard for your dog's heart

Dogs have our hearts and that is why we need to protect their heart. Dog’s as they age often face muscle problems and spinal misalignment and you might be surprised to know how that can hurt their heart. Learn how to protect your dog’s spine and by extension their heart.More

Be on guard for your dog's heart
Health and Longevity Course for Dogs             Chapter 11

The health of your dog's heart is crucial for adding years to your dog’s life and that's why I've decided to dedicate this 11th chapter of the Health and Longevity Course for Dogs to the heart.

If you've not gone through the previous chapters of the course, and especially Chapters 8, 9 and 10, please make sure that you read them as soon as possible. They contain knowledge that will add years to your dog's lifespan, based on what I've seen with other dogs.

Dog’s front legs and torso aren't attached by a joint

That’s right, the front legs are attached to the rest of the body by muscles and fascia. Many people mistakenly believe dog’s forelegs are attached to the rest of the body by a joint, as it is in people.

This design would be fine for the lifespan and lifestyle of a wild canine, but our dogs now live longer. As they age, the main muscle groups that suspend the front legs often get tired, injured and spastic. Older dogs also have a tendency to transfer their body weight onto the forelegs as their hind legs and back get weaker.

Naturally, the muscles get strained and tight, causing an uneven pull on the thoracic spine, the middle and upper part of the spine, which in turn causes energy flow congestion. As you already know from previous chapters, this congestion often affects the underlying organs.

Thoracic spine misalignment leads to paraspinal muscle tightness. These are the muscles that run parallel to the spine. When these muscles get tight, the blood, nerve and energy flow to the vital organs and parts of the body decreases, which makes them more vulnerable and prone to disease.

See more information on energy flow congestion.

What organs and body parts are supplied by the thoracic spine?
  • The heart
  • The lungs
  • The esophagus
  • The diaphragm
  • The liver 
  • The spleen
You and your dog are similar

As you can see, the health of your dog's thoracic spine is crucial to their overall health. If you are asking if the same applies to your back, the answer is yes. Most of the things that you've learned in the Health and Longevity Course for Dogs can be applied to your health. The old yogis knew why spine flexibility is important to overall health. Not paying attention to spine mobility is like maintaining a house, but neglecting the roof.

A different kind of heartbreak

There is no need to emphasize how important the heart is for your dog's health. It's dependent on essential nutrients and supplements. As soon as there is a nutrient deficiency, the hardworking heart tissues and structure will be affected.

Some time ago, I wrote an article on the topic of why straight-legged dogs such as boxers and Dobermans have a higher rate of heart disease. Straight forelegs and a very narrow interscapular space create flow congestion, which compromises the heart. Read the full article here.

The heart association point is at the fifth thoracic intervertebral and the pericardium is connected to the sixth thoracic intervertebral space. When you feel your dog’s heart beating, you will see the location of the heart is directly below the fifth and sixth vertebra. 

The main causes of dysfunction in these segments are poor breeding, a variety of injuries caused by slips, falls and slides, excessive swimming (read the full article here), too much digging and hind end weakness, to name a few.

That is not to say your dog should not swim or dig at all. However, if he or she is passionate, or perhaps even obsessed with these activities you need to ensure your dog does not overdo it. Overuse of some muscles leads to weakness in others. In fact, even in people, most back problems stem from some kind of weakness. 

What does hind end strength have to do with the heart?

If you have lived with an older dog and observe the aging process, you may have noticed that as dogs age, they gradually start transferring their weight from the back to the front. This shift can create muscle tightness and injuries in the lumbar spine, hip joints and adjacent muscles. You can see most senior dogs have difficulties getting up and jumping up on the couch or bed. As they lose their hind leg strength, it doesn't take long for them to start overusing their forelegs and pulling themselves up more with their forelegs. This leads to thoracic spine tightness, which can have a profound effect on your dog’s heart.

What happens when the heart does not receive enough energy flow?

It's unlikely you'll find the following information in a veterinary cardiology textbook, but this is what I've observed. When the region of the first and sixth thoracic vertebrae is inflamed, injured and tight, over time this can manifest in heart disease from leaky valves, to dilation and weakness of the heart muscle, called dilated cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia and even tumors. 

If I see severe sensitivity and inflammation in the heart-associated region of the spine, I always suggest further diagnostics, such as blood work, an ultrasound and radiographs.

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The most important point for your dog's heart

The body is a complex interconnected system and the health of the heart greatly depends on energy flow from the thoracic spine, but weakness in other areas of the body can have a cascade effect that can affect the heart. In the past several chapters, I've been focusing mainly on energy flow in the body for you to have a good understanding that this principle plays a major part in disease prevention.  

Of course, other chapters of our health and longevity course, such as regular detox Chapter 3, essential minerals Chapter 5, non-synthetic vitamins, probiotics and high-quality omega oils are equally important elements for your dog’s health.

How to address imbalances that affect your dog's heart

It's my experience that every little bit of knowledge can make a huge difference. If you see your dog’s thoracic spine is sensitive to the touch or the back looks ‘swayback,’ you need to contact a rehabilitation practitioner and work with an animal chiropractor, osteopath, massage therapist or physical therapist.

People sometimes ask me what discipline I prefer, but I feel it's not as much about the discipline, but the level of skills and experience of the practitioner. 

One more important thing! 

Before I finish Chapter 11, I must remind you about one more important part of disease prevention and that is keeping your dog's teeth in the best possible shape. Processed food and natural food cause tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth that can lead to gum inflammation and infection and one of the most common heart problems is bacterial valvular disease that originates from poor dental health. Keep this in mind and read this article on how to keep your dog's teeth healthy.

If you are following the Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs, I trust you are starting to get the idea that you can become your dog's best friend when it comes to health and longevity.

It gives me tremendous pleasure to take you along on this simple and effective path of healing. I hope you will share this info with others. 

Next: The Lungs

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To read the entire Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs click the links below. 

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM