Homemade Food for York-tzu with Congestive Heart Failure. Need Help!

by Joy DIxon

We have a 9 yr. old Yorkie/Shitzu named Aidan. He is the love of our life and a very beloved member of our family.

We recently found out that he has the beginning stages of CHF and has thyroid issues. He is on so much medicine and needs to lose weight. Although sick, his appetite is HUMONGOUS and that is because the food the Vet gave us does not satisfy him at all.

I was told by many to try and find homemade diet foods to feed him that contain mostly meat. (mainly beef, beef liver and chicken). I'm wondering if anyone here has a dog with CHF or a dog that they have invented a homemade diet that is low fat, low sodium but high in protein.

I've read so much that now I've gotten myself all confused and my vet doesn't have a clue about homemade foods. They always want you to buy the food they sell and Aidan hates it. Aidan doesn't have but about 16 teeth due to having teeth pulled about a year ago so he can't ear anything hard or crunchy.

We love him so very much, if anyone knows of anything related to homemade diet, please email me. Thanks so very much. (Aidan is also about 3 lbs. overweight and we have GOT to get his weight down to prolong his life. He needs food high in Omega 3's, magnesium and B Vitamins or I've been told that I can just buy human vitamins and put them in his food.

Considering all I've read, I truly don't believe that store bought food is his best option and I'm trying very hard to come up with a good diet of meat and low fat veggies that he will eat.

Just hoping that someone out there may have the same issues and praying for a little bit of advice if anyone knows any info that can help me.

I sure appreciate yall and yes, I do live in the South so the weather here in Florida isn't conducive to his condition but he likes swimming so we just jump in the pool !!

Ed Answers:

First I will tell you CHF will win in the end but you can take steps to slow the process. I would tell you to take Aidan to no one but a true health professional. That includes me.

Find a true holistic dietitian for dogs (they are out there. They will help with a diet, once you get it check it with your vet as he knows your dogs specific need ( if you need to, explain to him gently you won't be using store bought food so he won't be making food sales). If he is decent he will want to help.

Next humidity is his enemy! Climate control is mandatory. Air conditioning is great it removes water from the air. Swimming is super it is low impact exercize and will help him keep tone without stressing his heart.

CHF is water build up in his tissue and heart so humidity is bad.

My heart is with you. Please remember as much as you love him at some point you have to consider his quality of life and know when to let go. It is very hard but your love for him will win out and his eyes will tell you when. Be strong and do all you can while you can then be the good mommie and daddy you have been and send him on his way when you know he is ready.

This is the toughest time for a pet owner but remember all the love he has shared. Good luck and god bless the battle is not over. Just know when it is.

Our Answer

First, we want to say how sorry we are to hear about Aidan’s illness. We understand how much you love your little guy and that you want to do the best for him. It’s a shame your vet isn’t more knowledgeable about how diet can help Aidan’s condition, but it’s often the same with human doctors—for some reason nutrition is still considered a separate topic from medical/vet care!

The biggest concern when switching to a diet of homemade food is whether or not the recipe will provide all the proper nutrition. In your case, you also have your Yorkie-tzu’s serious health issues to worry about. There are supplements that may be helpful for Aidan’s conditions, but you really need to consult a holistic veterinarian for knowledgeable advice, as our reader Ed has suggested.

In the meantime, you should feel confident about feeding Aidan a homemade diet. While no food is going to offer a “miracle cure” for his CHF, you can improve his general health, improve the quality of his life and deepen your bond by preparing homemade food.

Most manufactured dog foods have a high level of sodium, and that’s a big problem for dog’s with heart failure. Too much sodium causes water retention, which can aggravate the condition and lead to weight gain. Switching to a homemade diet allows you to not only increase the amount of protein, but also to control Aidan’s sodium intake. When preparing homemade food or treats, always use the best quality, human-grade ingredients and follow the same cleanliness and storage procedures you follow when cooking for your human family.

Remember—if you wouldn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t feed it to your dog!

A basic high-protein, low-fat, low-sodium diet would include the following ratio:

  • One-third high-quality protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt)
  • One-third fat (including the fat content in the protein) such as flaxseed or sunflower oil
  • One-third carbohydrates (grains, sweet potatoes, vegetables)

The addition of a multi-vitamin and powdered calcium or bonemeal will ensure your dog is getting the necessary amounts of vitamins and minerals with each meal.

As always, you want to make dietary changes slowly as sudden changes can cause digestive distress. While some authorities suggest variety is the key to a healthier, more natural canine diet, constantly switching up the ingredients may lead to more problems. Allergy test the potential ingredients by giving Aidan small nibbles of a single food over several days. If he shows signs of itching, diarrhea or hair loss discontinue that food. Once one ingredient is established as “safe” try another until you’ve established a list of new foods that agree with him. Obviously, if you already know he can eat chicken or brown rice, etc, without problems, allergy testing is not needed.

Best of luck to you and sweet Aidan. We hope he has many more years of life ahead of him, but with a loving human companion like you he is ensured a happy life no matter what the future brings.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Your Shih Tzu Questions and Answers.