Many times, when we think about heart health, we don’t think protecting our little furry friends with the big hearts. But did you know that nearly 10% of dogs and cats suffer from heart disease? 

Just like human, animals can develop heart disease that’s related to genetics, age or lifestyle. While you may not be able to prevent some forms of heart disease, you can be proactive to help your dogs and cats stay healthier longer. 

Since we’re partnering with the American Heart Association (AHA) during April to support efforts to end heart disease and stroke, we thought this was a purr-fect time to give you 4 ways to get pumped about your pets’ heart health. 

1. A balancing act. It’s super important to make sure your pets are eating a balanced diet so they maintain a healthy weight. Overweight dogs and cats are more likely to develop heart disease. It’s a good idea to not just feed your animals willy-nilly. Measure out servings that are appropriate for your pets’ age and size and keep a consistent feeding schedule. Make sure to factor in treats, too! 

Dogs and cats should eat a meat-based diet, but avoid raw meat for dogs. It contains bacteria that can get into a dog’s blood stream and cause heart valve infection. Your cat’s food should contain taurine, a building block of amino acids that aren’t produced naturally. Taurine is only found in meat-based cat foods. 

And let’s hope it goes without saying that pets should not be given scraps of human food. It can easily increase the amount of fat and not-so-great-ingredients that can contribute to heart disease. 

2. Work it, dog! You need exercise. Your pets need exercise. How about getting exercise together?! Just as it is for humans, animals need to get some form of daily activity to keep their hearts healthy. Ask your vet what the best activity is for your pet’s breed, size and age, and then start playing! 

Dogs should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Take your pooch on a walk or play a game of catch. 

Cats should get at least 15 minutes of physical activity daily. We all know that cats don’t have the best attention span, so you can break the time up throughout the day. Invest in a scratching post, let them chase a feather on a string or break out the catnip. 

3. Prevent infestation. Keeping little buggers like fleas and ticks away can help keep your pets healthier longer. And the healthier they are in general, the more likely they’ll be able to avoid heart disease. Monthly heartworm prevention is also crucial for dogs. The American Heartworm Society recommends that dogs get a heartworm blood test every couple of years. 

4. A vet is the best bet. Regular veterinarian visits are important, especially since early detection of heart disease can literally be a lifesaver for your pets. A yearly wellness exam for all of your pets can catch heart disease before symptoms arise, but if your pets show any signs of heart issues, it’s important to get them to the vet ASAP. These symptoms can include loss of appetite, rapid or very slow heartbeat, weakness, fatigue and difficulty breathing.  

If you want to support the American Heart Association, you’re barking up the RIGHT tree! You can donate in our stores through the end of April. Just give at the register. You can also post a pic on your Instagram with #GetPumpedforHeartHealth showing how you show your heart some love. We’ll donate $1 for every post with our hashtag to the AHA, up to $10,000.