Recent studies done by Prins show that pet owners rate health the most important topic to learn more about. A crucial part of your pet's health is the heart. So make sure it keeps beating strongly!
The heart, the single most important muscle in an animal's body, creates blood circulation by alternating contracting movements with relaxation. The heart is located in the chest cavity, in front of the diaphragm, approximately on the same level as the fifth or sixth rib.
This is the spot
A pet's heart is directly connected to the chest wall. Did you know that you can feel your pet's heart clearer on the left hand side, due to the location (being more left-centered than right)? The heart of smaller animals, that have a faster working metabolism, needs to pump quicker. The heart of a dog beats 60 to 120 times per minute, the heart of a cat 120 to 180 times.
Just feel it!
Do you want to feel the heart beating? Place your hand flat behind your pet's left elbow.
Atria and ventricles
A mammal heart consists of two adjacent halves, seperated by a partition and surrounded by a pericardium. The heart has a left and a right ventricle and a left and a right cardiac atrium. The atria serve as a blood reservoir. They fill up the ventricles, which are the actual pumps.
The heart basically works like a double pump. Oxygen-poor blood from the body enters the right cardiac atrium through veins and continues into the right ventricle. The right ventricle then pumps the oxygen-poor blood to the lungs, where oxygen is added again. That oxygen-rich blood then goes back to the heart. Via the left cardiac atrium, it continues to the left ventricle which transfers it through the aorta (the large artery) to all other tissues.
A heart needs ‘food’ too
Pumping the blood through the body is a very labour-intensive process. That's why the heart needs lots of oxygen. The left and right coronary arteries ensure the supply thereof. Besides oxygen, the heart also need nutrients to function. It mostly uses up fatty acids, but also substances like glucose, pyruvate, ketone bodies, amino acids and lactic acid as a source of energy.
A few ingredients in cat and dog food are of extra importance for a healthy cardiac function:
- Taurine is essential for enabling the heart muscle to contract and thus for the pumping of the heart. Cats can not, contrary to dogs, synthetise this amino acid themselves, which is why it is an important additive to their feeds. When animal ingredients are used in feeds, taurine is present. We add a little extra taurine to all our Prins cat feeds. Our Prins ProCare Protection feeds also contain extra taurine: even though dogs are able to synthetise taurine themselves, bigger sized dogs appear less efficient to do so.
- L-carnitine is a tiny, water-soluble molecule which is essential for burning fatty acids in heart cells, ensuring sufficient energy being available. Animals can either absorb L-carnitine from their food or their liver can synthetise it. Prins ProCare Protection and Prins VitalCare Protection feeds contain extra carnitine to support the heart.
- Vitamin C and E are antioxidants which protect the heart from harmful infleunces. For extra protection, we added extra vitamin C and E to both Prins ProCare Protection and Prins VitalCare Protection feeds.
How big is a heart?
A heart's weight can vary enormously among different types of animals. In cats and dogs, the heart makes up about 0,75 to 1,25 percent of their total body weight. The heart of a 25-kilo dog weighs 190 to 300 grams. Activity and training can modify the size of the heart. Athletes often have enlarged hearts, also known as 'sports’ hearts'.
We have a big heart!
We care deeply about cats and dogs. Would you like to know which food fits your cat's or dog's age and lifestyle best, or learn more about our heart-supporting ProCare Protection and VitalCare Protection feeds? We are more than willing to help you by giving some good advice.