Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs Chapter 11
The health of your dog's heart is in your hands and that is why I have decided to dedicate this 11th chapter of the Health and Longevity Course to the heart.
If you have not gone through the previous parts of the course, and especially Chapters 8, 9 and 10, please make sure that you read them as soon as possible. They contain knowledge that will add years to your dog's lifespan, based on what I have seen in other dogs.
Did you know dog’s front legs are not attached to the torso by a joint?
That’s right, the front legs are attached to the rest of the body by muscles and fascia. Many people mistakenly believe dog’s forelegs are attached to the rest of the body by a joint as it is in people.
This design would be fine for the lifespan and lifestyle of a wild canine, but our dogs now live longer. As they age, the main muscle groups that suspend the front legs often get tired, injured and spastic.
Naturally, the muscle tightness causes an uneven pull on the thoracic spine, the middle and upper part of the spine, which causes misalignments. As you already know from previous chapters, this is not the end of the story.
Thoracic spine misalignment leads to paraspinal muscle tightness. These are the muscles that run parallel to the spine. When these muscles get tight, the blood, nerve and energy flow to the vital organs and parts of the body decreases, which makes them more vulnerable and prone to disease. (See more information on this topic here.)
What main organs and body parts are supplied by the thoracic spine?
Here is the list:
- The heart
- The lungs
- The esophagus
- The diaphragm
- The liver
- The spleen
You and your dog are similar
As you can see, the health of your dog's thoracic spine is crucial to their overall health. If you are asking if the same applies to your back, the answer is yes. Most of the things that you have learned in the Health & Longevity Course for Dogs can be applied to your health. The old yogis knew why spine flexibility is important to overall health. Not paying attention to spine mobility is like maintaining a house, but neglecting its roof.
A different kind of heartbreak
There is no need to emphasize how important the heart is for your dog's health. It is dependent on essential nutrients and supplements. As soon as there is a nutrient deficit, the hardworking heart tissues and structure will be affected.
Some time ago, I wrote an article on the topic of why straight-legged dogs such as boxers and Dobermans have a higher rate of heart disease. Straight forelegs and a very narrow interscapular space create flow congestion, which compromises the heart. Read the full article here.
The heart association point is at fifth thoracic intervertebral and the pericardium is connected to the 6th thoracic intervertebral space. When you feel your dog’s heart beating, you will see the location of the heart is directly below the fifth and sixth vertebra.
The main causes of dysfunction in these segments are poor breeding, a variety of injuries caused by slips, falls and slides, excessive swimming (Read the full article here), too much digging and hind-end weakness, to name a few.
That is not to say your dog should not swim or dig at all. However, if he or she is passionate, or perhaps even obsessed, with these activities, you need to ensure that your dog does not overdo it because overuse of some muscles leads to weakness in others. In fact, even in people, most back problems stem from some kind of weakness.
What has hind-end strength got to do with the heart?
If you have lived with an older dog and observe the aging process, you may have noticed that as dogs age, they gradually start transferring their weight from the back to the front. This shift can create lumbar spine, hip joint and adjacent muscle tightness and injuries. You can see most senior dogs have difficulties getting up and jumping up on the couch or bed. As they lose their hind leg strength, it does not take long for them to start overusing their forelegs and pulling themselves up more with their forelegs. This leads to thoracic spine tightness, which can have a profound effect on your dog’s heart.
What happens when the heart does not receive enough energy flow?
It is unlikely that you will find the following information in a veterinary cardiology textbook, but this is what I have observed. When the region of the first and sixth thoracic vertebrae is inflamed, injured and tight over time this can manifest in heart disease from leaky valves, to dilation and weakness of the of the heart muscle, called dilated cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia and even tumors.
If I see severe sensitivity and inflammation in the heart-associated region of the spine, I always suggest further diagnostics, such as blood work, an ultrasound and radiographs.
The most important point you can take from all this
The body is a complex interconnected system and the health of the heart greatly depends on the energy flow from the thoracic spine, but weakness in other areas of the body can have a cascade effect that can affect the heart. In the past several chapters, I have been focusing mainly on energy flow in the body for you to have a good understanding that this principle plays a major part in disease prevention.
Of course, other chapters of our health and longevity course, such as regular detox CHAPTER 3, essential minerals CHAPTER 5, non-synthetic vitamins, probiotics and high-quality omega oils are equally important elements for your dog’s health.
How to address imbalances that affect your dog's heart
It is my experience that every little bit of knowledge can make a huge difference. If you see your dog’s thoracic spine is sensitive to the touch or the back looks ‘swayback,’ you need to contact a rehabilitation practitioner and work with an animal chiropractor, osteopath, massage therapist or physical therapist.
People sometimes ask me what discipline I prefer, but I feel that it is not as much about the discipline, but the level of skills and experience of the practitioner.
One more important thing!
Before I finish Chapter 11, I must remind you about one more important part of disease prevention and that is keeping your dog's teeth in the best possible shape. Processed food and natural food cause tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth that can lead to gum inflammation and infection and one of the most common heart problems is bacterial valvular disease that originates from poor dental health. Keep this in mind and read this article on how to keep your dog's teeth healthy.
If you have been following the Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs, I trust that you are starting to get the idea that you can become your dog's best friend when it comes to health and longevity.
It gives me tremendous pleasure to take you along on this simple and effective path of healing. I hope that you will share this info with others.
Next: The Lungs
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM