For canines, an enlarged heart is most commonly caused by a condition known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy which weakens the heart muscle and reduces its ability to circulate blood through the body. While we have not yet discovered the cause of this disease, we do know that it is more prevalent in certain breeds, usually larger breeds such as Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and Boxers and that it is incurable. While it is necessary to restrict the animal’s activity so that their heart does not become overly stressed, there are still many calm and enjoyable activities that you can continue to share with your canine companion.
While running next to your bike or going on long hikes are not activities that are recommended for dogs with enlarged or damaged hearts, there is no reason that most of these canines can’t take a nice leisurely meander and explore the world a little more. This will not only help to keep them in as good of physical shape as is possible, it will also typically provide a great deal of mental stimulation and increase their overall quality of life. When walking a dog with a disorder like dilated cardiomyopathy, you will want to be fully present and paying close attention so that you can recognize if your dog is starting to tire.
Hide and seek is an entertaining game that can be played by dogs of nearly any type. It is an activity that requires mental acuity and problem-solving abilities, and if it is done in a calm and controlled way, it is an activity that your dog can do with you that can be somewhat exciting, without being too exciting for your dog to handle. One of the best things about the game Hide and Seek is that it can be enjoyed by children of all ages giving any younger family members a chance to continue safely interacting with their pup.
Dogs that are diagnosed with an enlarged heart may be restricted from doing activities that may increase the heart rate, but in order to have the best possible quality of life that they can, they may want to engage in gentle exercises, particularly those that encourage bonding and stimulate the mind. Yoga is a fantastic way for humans to get both strength training and stress relief without overly stressing the heart, and the new trend of Doga, a variety of yoga that incorporates your dog into the yoga positions, is making this a more popular form of exercise for our canines as well.
For many dogs, obedience training is not only mentally stimulating, but the act of learning something new can help bring you and your dog closer together.
Canine massage is an activity that can be relaxing for both you and your canine companion. This activity can both relieve stress and help to improve your dog’s circulation.
All dogs need physical activity of some sort and daily mental stimulation in order to meet all of their physical, mental, and emotional needs. While there is a need to restrict the activity and excitement level for a dog who has been diagnosed with an enlarged heart, this does not mean that these dogs can’t engage in low-key activities that stimulate their minds and may even improve the overall health of your canine.