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Heart  murmurs

Heart failure & DCM

Vegetarian & Vegan

Weight & Convalescence




Dog heart conditions such as:

Heart Murmur,  Mitral Valve Disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Congestive Heart Failure

Why our dogs need help with Vegetarian and Vegan diets


L-Carnitine & Taurine supplement for dogs

Supplements used for canine heart disease have two purposes. The first is to correct nutritional deficiencies resulting from canine heart disease which are  common and can exacerbate the damage and accelerate the disease's progression.

The second reason we use supplements is for their pharmacological effects. Strengthening the heart muscle's contractions, dilating blood vessels, reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure - these are just a few of the benefits supplements for heart disease can provide.

Whether your dog is still in the early non-symptomatic stage of mitral valve disease or dilated cardiomyopathy, or has progressed to congestive heart failure, the amino acids in Carnicare supplement may be able to help.

While some people choose to raise their dogs on a vegetarian diet for ethical reasons there are a number of important factors to consider when making the change over.

Dogs have higher protein requirements than humans, and this protein requirement can be adequately met with legumes and other vegetarian sources. The amount of protein required ranges between 12% - 40%.

Supplementation is needed to reduce the risk of deficiencies. Two important amino acids that may be lacking in vegetarian diets are taurine and L-carnitine, and a deficiency of these nutrients can cause serious health problems

High quality protein is very important for dogs with heart disease, and while amino acid supplementation is routinely recommended for dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, there is evidence that dogs with heart murmurs caused by mitral valve disease can benefit too.

Although heart disease in dogs is progressive and often irreversible, in those cases where it can be reversed, amino acid supplements containing L-Carnitine and Taurine deserve the credit.

L-Arginine has a blood pressure lowering effect, reducing the load placed on diseased hearts. Finally D-Ribose has been shown in dogs as well as humans to increase the energy output and recovery rate in damaged hearts

Carnitine is usually classified as an amino acid, but it's actually a vitamin-like compound that plays a vital role in the body by transporting long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria. It is essential to cellular energy metabolism, and due to the myocardium's high energy requirements, the highest levels of carnitine can be found in heart muscle tissue.

These high energy requirements also make the heart uniquely vulnerable to carnitine deficiencies. Low levels of myocardial carnitine are associated with dilated cardiomyopathy in several breeds, especially Boxers, but also Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, and Dobermans

Carnitine supplementation can produce excellent results in some dogs; cardiomyopathy begins to reverse and prescription heart medications can be discontinued, although the dogs must remain on supplements. Discontinuing supplementation results in a return of clinical DCM symptoms and heart muscle dysfunction.

The body's ability to synthesize Carnitine decreases with age as well as with congestive heart failure, so it's possible that, in some dogs, Carnitine deficiencies are the result, rather than the cause, of heart disease.

Carnitine supplements can boost exercise tolerance, reduce fatigue, minimize muscle atrophy, improve lipid patterns, and decrease heart rhythm disturbances. Carnitine also helps protects the heart muscle against oxidative stress by means of its substantial antioxidant effect. Consequently supplementation may be beneficial even without an underlying Carnitine deficiency.

High levels of this amino acid are normally found in the heart muscle, and taurine deficiencies are implicated in dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), particularly in certain breeds, such as American Cocker Spaniels, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs, Dalmatians, and Golden Retrievers.

When small or medium breed dogs are diagnosed with DCM, taurine deficiency should always be suspected as a possible cause

Taurine is abundant in most meats and fish, but cooking, especially cooking methods that immerse meat in water, such as boiling, can reduce taurine levels in food by up to 85%. However, this is not supposed to be a problem for dogs, because, unlike cats, dogs are supposed to be able to synthesize sufficient taurine from the sulphur amino acids, cysteine and methionine, much like humans. You'll notice the "supposed to’s" in that sentence. That's because it is far from clear that all dogs have the ability to synthesize adequate levels of taurine.

While premium dog foods typically include additional taurine supplements, low protein diets as well as  brands using high levels of cereal protein can produce deficiencies. Lamb and rice diets have also been implicated in taurine-related DCM, as have homemade vegetarian and vegan diets. Some breeds (e.g., Newfoundlands, American Cocker Spaniels) are prone to developing taurine deficiencies even when taurine levels in their diet are adequate.

There is evidence that dogs with heart disease can benefit from taurine supplementation even if their blood taurine levels are normal.

This is most likely due to taurine's pharmacological effects as a cardiotonic. Not only does taurine protect the heart by regulating natriuresis and diuresis, it can also strengthen the contractions of heart muscle cells and help stabilize heart rhythm abnormalities.

Additionally, there is evidence that taurine diminishes the harmful effects of angiotensin II (a hormone responsible for everything from blood vessel constriction to the breakdown of lean body mass in patients with congestive heart failure) and reduces oxidative damage by decreasing levels of lipid peroxides in oxygen-deficient tissues.

In a placebo-controlled study of taurine-normal dogs with experimentally-induced congestive heart failure, taurine supplementation  improved clinical condition, strengthened heart muscle contractility, and reduced mortality.

Vital amino acids for your dog’s healthy heart and circulation

L-Carnitine for dogs

Taurine for dogs

Heart murmurs in dogs

t often comes as a surprise to owners to be told by the Vet that their dog has a heart murmur. The news often comes as a result of a routine check by the Vet when your dog  is in the clinic for something else. This is because vet will use a stethoscope to listen to the heart as part of his routine examination.

It can be distressing and worrying news especially as many dogs with heart murmurs appear normal to their owners and have no obvious symptoms of heart disease.

A heart murmur is a specific sound detected when listening to the heart with a stethoscope. This sound is a result of the blood flowing faster than normal within the heart itself or in one of the two major arteries leaving the heart (the aorta and pulmonary artery). Instead of the normal Lubb Dupp, an additional sound is present that can vary from a mild pshhh to a loud whoosh!

Your vet will use a grading system from 1 to 6 to describe how loud the murmur is e.g. a grade 1 murmur is very soft and a grade 6 murmur is very loud. You should ask your Vet for this assessment.

Heart murmurs in puppies

If a heart murmur is present from birth or develops shortly after birth, it will probably be noticed by your veterinary surgeon at the time of  vaccinations.  The most common type is called an innocent “flow murmur”. This type of murmur is soft (typically a grade 2 or softer) and is not caused by underlying heart disease and will generally disappear in the first year.

However if a puppy has a loud murmur (grade 3 or louder), or if the heart murmur is still easily heard with a stethoscope after 4-5 months of age, the likelihood of an underlying congenital heart problem (i.e. heart disease that the puppy was born with) becomes much higher. Examples of congenital heart problems in dogs are patent ductus arteriosus, aortic stenosis and pulmonic stenosis.

Worrying as this is, it is important to remember that not all types of congenital heart disease will affect your puppy’s life expectancy or quality of life. Your Vet will probably want to carry out further tests to identify the underlying cause.

Heart murmurs in adult dogs

This type of  heart murmur is usually due to heart disease that develops with age and was not present when a puppy.

In toy and small breeds of dog, a heart murmur may develop due to thickening and degeneration of the mitral valve in the heart, preventing it from closing properly and consequently leaking. The heart then has to work harder to compensate for this pumping inefficiency 

Large and giant breeds of dog typically do not suffer from mitral valve disease to the same extent and the usual heart disease affecting older larger dogs is called Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM.

The heart muscle has enlarged and can distort the mitral valve so that it cannot close properly. The resultant leak across the valve will cause a heart murmur.

Factors outside of the heart can cause murmurs

Not all murmurs are the result of a problem in the heart. Blood disorders, obesity, emaciation and parasitic conditions can create the conditions necessary to inititiate a heart murmur.

How is a heart murmur treated?

If the heart murmur is caused by an underlying problem, the treatment will be based on the diagnosis, and may include a combination of specialized diets, medications and supportive care. Only a few congenital heart defects can be surgically corrected. Treatment and Care may well be required throughout your pet’s life.

What is the outlook?

The prognosis ranges depending on the cause of the murmur. If the murmur is not strong and the dog is a puppy the your vet will probably just keep and eye on the situation and offer no treatment.

The long-term prognosis for a dog with a murmur caused by congenital heart disease is extremely variable, depending on the specific type of defect that is present; if the defect can be surgically corrected the prognosis is very good. A dog with mitral valve problems can usually be managed with long-term medications.

The outlook for a dog with dilated cardiomyopathy varies - in the later stage the disease develops to ‘heart failure’ and then the prognosis will be grave though you may still enjoy your pet’s company for years to come. Treatment again includes a package of medication and dietary supplementation and control.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy DCM

Understanding Cardiomyopathy in dogs

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs is a heart condition where the individual muscle fibres in the heart progressively loose their contractabilty. Consequently the heart’s pumping action is impaired leading to symptoms you may observe  as well as internal changes to the heart which of course you cannot see.  DCM is predominantly found in the larger breeds of dog.

Symptoms of DCM in dogs that you may observe  are  lethargy, reduced stamina, increased breathing rate or panting and a cough (especially on lying down). Internal changes are enlargement (dilation) of the heart in response to trying to pump more blood, retention of fluids around the body especially the lungs and risk of arythmia (irregular heart beat). DCM can develop into congestive heart failure if not treated. Congestive heart failure is the latter stage of the disease though dogs may still in many instances lead a comfortable and meaningful life for some time.

Your vet will treat your dog on at least three fronts using drugs to target the following:

Improve the contractability of heart muscle cells  ( common drug is Vetmedin)

Reduce the workload of the heart by relaxing the arteries and veins  (common drugs are

Reduce the fluid build up around the body, especially the  lungs and the cause of the cough symptom (common drugs are  spirolactone  and furosemide)

Supplements for cardiomyopathy and heart failure in dogs

The amino acids Taurine and L Carnitine have a proven role in supporting dogs with DCM.  Older dogs produce reduced amounts of these amino acids and coupled with dietary deficiencies the hearts efficiency is reduced.

L-Carnitine improves heart cell reproduction and contraction while Taurine is intrinsic in the prevention of arrythmia and arrest.

Carnicare contains these two vital amino acids and magnesium which is added to improve nerve function. Carnicare is compatible and safe to give with all the prescription drugs that the vet may use.


Vegetarian and Vegan Diets for Dogs

Can dog’s really live without meat?

Owners who decide to feed a vegetarian or vegan diet can fully satisfy their dogs dietary needs if they are aware of the species’ nutritional requirements.

Dogs may prefer to be carnivores whenever possible and while meat and fish are their preferred prey, even when times are plentiful they will still eat some herbage. Perhaps they are self medicating in some way. Perhaps obtaining certain minerals and vitamins that their meat diet lacks. Observers of carnivorous animals have noted that hunters will often eat intestinal contents before tackling raw meat.  Another piece of evidence to give us an insight into the dogs true nutritional needs.

What’s the best doggy vegetarian diet ?

So what should you take into account when preparing a vegetarian diet for your dog. Well firstly because they do not have a large capacity to digest vegetable matter, including starches and sugars they do lean towards a high protein and high fat content diet.

Therefore be aware that cereals, including rice, and potato must be kept to a minimum. Excessive starches and sugars increase the risk of your dog developing serious diseases such as diabetes, colitis and other digestive conditions.

Vegetable fibre is difficult to digest and so must be well broken down by mincing or liquidising though not necessarily cooking; which will reduce nutritional value. Raw is often best if it is broken down to improve digestability.

Plant proteins are abundant in legumes, peas, beans etc.

Since practically all vegetable material contains fats and oils in addition to the oils you may add, you need to be aware that too much omega 6 oils are harmful, causing internal inflammation that can give rise to arthritis and other complaints. The better vegetable oils are: olive, coconut and flax.  Avoid sunflower, corn and rapeseed oils especially. We have a good article on vegetable oils for dogs in our online healthcare blog.

What are “essential” nutrients?

The clever thing about metabolism is that if we don’t get a certain nutrient in our diet then the body can synthesise it from the chemical building blocks obtained from other parts of our diet. So in fact not that many nutrients are really classed as “essential”. But nevertheless there are some that are essential that the dog can’t manufacture at all or can’t manufacture enough of to fulfil their true potential. This can lead to a dog “surviving” on a vegetarian diet rather than “blossoming”. It can also become more important for older dogs as their internal “manufacturing” systems weaken with age.

What is the case for supplementation?

This then is the area where judicial supplemention of the diet on the owner’s part can help the vegetarian diet become truly fulfilling both for dog and owner. Supplementation is usually needed to reduce the risk of deficiencies at somer point in your dog’s life.

Two important amino acids that may be lacking in vegetarian diets are taurine and L-carnitine, and a deficiency of these nutrients can cause serious health problems within the nervous system, heart and circulation. Taurine is an “essential” for example and no plant foods have more than a trace of it.

Many minerals can be deficient either because of where crops are grown or over-intensive agriculture. Plant derived vital Omega 3 fatty acids EHA and DPA are found only in algae, and so seaweed and spirulina are good things to add to the diet for this and for the vast array of minerals they contain.

Bear in mind that the greater the variety of foods that you introduce into the vegetarian diet the lower the risk of deficiencies.

Bear in mind that the greater the variety you can introduce into the vegetarian diet the lower the risk of deficiencies.

Muscular therapy

The use of L-Carnitine is well known in muscular development activities such as aqua-therapy in order to help develop the skeletal muscles following illness or enforced inactivity. Helps muscle development in dogs with “wasting” conditions.

Post-operative & convalescent

During the post traumatic and post surgical recovery periods, energy requirements increase by between 20% and 100%.  L-Carnitine ensures the increased energy requirements of the recovering animal are met by increasing the cellular energy value of those fatty acids that result from stress-linked lipomobilisation.

Slimming - weight loss

While not a magic bullet for combating canine obesity, we are  satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to indicate that L-Carnitine is beneficial to canine weight loss. Several studies have shown that dogs losing weight on a diet supplemented with L-carnitine lose more weight, including a greater percentage of body fat, while retaining more lean muscle mass than the control group eating the same weight loss dog food minus L-Carnitine supplementation. For instance, in one study  with overweight dogs, the L-Carnitine group lost 6.4% of their body weight after 7 weeks of dieting, while the group eating the same diet without L-Carnitine lost only 1.8% body weight.

Carnicare liquid syrup is fed at the rate of 1ml twice per day for every 10kg of your dog’s weight.  It should be sprinkled on your dog’s food at mealtimes, although not necessarily with each meal.  A measuring dispenser is provided to help you to feed the correct amount easily.

Side effects are rare and limited to mild diarrhea. Feed at half the recommended rate to allow your dog to acclimatise to it.

Carnicare contains 40% (400mg/ml) of L-Carnitine, making it the most concentrated and best value product available.

Carnicare™ contains is a special grade of L-Carnitine, manufactured by a unique production process based on fermentation, which is the only way of producing L-Carnitine in the same way as nature. Our L-Carnitine contains no impure D-Carnitine, which is actually detrimental to the dog. Magnesium Aspartate Hydrochloride is also present to give increased assimilation into the system.


L-Carnitine     400mg/ml

Taurine             80mg/ml

Magnesium Aspartate Hydrochloride    100mg/ml

Potassium Sorbate natural preservative – less than 1%

Safe and Vet recommended

Please consult your Vet

The Ingredients in Carnicare are widely recommended and used by Veterinary Surgeons, often in conjunction with prescription drugs.

Carnicare has a very safe record and is compatible with all medications that may be prescribed by your vet. It is important that in order to obtain the most complete treatment available for your dog Carnicare should  be used in conjunction with medications deemed necessary  by your Veterinary Surgeon.

Use of Carnicare in muscular therapy, weight loss and convalescence

How to feed Carnicare to your dog

Carnicare Ingredients