A chihuahua against a white backdrop getting his heart checked with a stethoscope.

After our dog’s congestive heart failure diagnosis, we found ourselves scrambling to research proper heart care. Rocco is the only one of our four chihuahuas who has had a heart murmur, and even then every year the vet has said it is low grade and not a concern.

After 13 years of Rocco’s heart murmur being a footnote in his records, it suddenly jumped to a grade 4-5 heart murmur, and just a few weeks after that, to congestive heart failure. At his age, heart disease isn’t uncommon, but we still want to slow the progression of his disease if we can. Here are 3 supplements for chihuahua heart health, and what they do.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

We have a love/hate relationship with this supplement. All of our dogs have been on Omega-3s at one point or another because they are so good for the body. Unfortunately, Rocco hates fish. Also, krill. Also, any of those ‘omega-3’ treats that contain any of those ingredients.

Unfortunately for Rocco, Omega-3s have shown promising results in protecting the hearts of dogs with mitral valve disease, a common cause of congestive heart failure in chihuahuas.

Luckily, he doesn’t seem to mind the one made from algae, since it only smells very softly of fish and I can hide it in food. Our other dogs like the regular fish and krill oil kind just fine, which is great, because I bought every kind trying to find something Rocco likes.

After feeding this to all our dogs, we also noticed that Tank, our resident grump, seems to have gotten more affectionate. We know that omega-3s have mood stabilizing effects in humans, and now wonder if there are similar effects in dogs. There’s only one study on aggression in dogs and omega-3s that we can find. It found that aggressive dogs were characterized by low amounts of DHA, a critical component of omega-3s.

Tank isn’t aggressive–he’s just not normally affectionate. It was really neat to see him start playing with other dogs instead of just by himself, snuggling with people, and sitting in laps.

Get Omega-3s from Chewy/Amazon here. Using our affiliate link helps us continue to bring you more articles like this, and costs nothing to you. The link is for ordinary salmon oil, we found our algae oil offline at Pet Pros if you are looking for a fish free variety.

CoEnzyme Q10

This is one we started Rocco on when we first found out his heart murmur worsened. Some vets already recommend this regularly for dogs that have the potential to develop heart disease. There’s only been a few narrow studies done on it, but those studies have shown benefits.

In the study linked above, 13 dogs were given a course of CoEnzyme Q10 for 28 days. The scientists than ran a test to measure cTnI levels. cTnl levels measure cardiac troponin, which is released when the heart muscle is damaged. In 71% of the dogs taking CoEnzyme Q10, cTnl levels were reduced.

It’s important to remember this is a relatively small study, but if you’re worried about your dog’s heart health and don’t have time to wait for more studies, this is a good supplement to try.



Oxidative Stress is a common part of heart disease in dogs. (Heck, in people too.) Antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress in dogs with heart problems. They’re also good for pups that don’t have heart problems as well.

Both Omega-3 Fatty Acids and CoEnzyme Q10 are examples of antioxidants, but there’s also a lot of potential in another form of antioxidant, polyphenols.

Polyphenols are plant-based antioxidants that can do wonders for the body. Here’s a great study (scroll down to 4.3, polyphenols) that looks into them for heart problems in dogs.

Polyphenols can be found in supplement form, but you can also give them to your pet in the form of fresh food treats such as broccoli, berries, or apple slices. We believe that the fresh snacks are probably healthier.

Reduce Sodium Intake

Sodium is one nutrient source your dog could do with less of. Dog foods and dog treats all add salt in part because it is a nutritional requirement, and in part because it is yummy. Unfortunately, if you give your dog a chew snack, a couple of treats, and their dinner, they may get far more salt than is intended. (Not to mention the potato chip he just hoovered off the floor.)

Reducing sodium intake can help reduce stress on your dog’s organs, especially their heart and kidneys.

A Word on Taurine

We’ve mentioned on past articles about heart health that taurine is essential for your dog. If a dog is deficient in taurine, they can even develop heart problems. Although this is true, we don’t think it’s necessary to supplement it for chihuahuas.

Taurine deficiency has been shown to occur in specific breeds like Golden Retrievers, but the chihuahua is not one of those breeds. If you’re concerned about taurine deficiency, ask your vet to test your dog and see if they need a supplement.

A Word on L-Carnitine

In the same way that Taurine is beneficial to chihuahua heart health if they have a deficiency, L-Carnitine is also beneficial to dogs with a Carnitine deficiency. Results in studies were mixed at best for dogs who didn’t have a deficiency. Chihuahuas once again are not prone to an L-Carnitine deficiency.

While it likely won’t hurt your pet to supplement it, this is once again one I’d discuss with the vet. My concern here is that although it is benign and will be excreted through the kidneys—if your dog is on heart medication those kidneys are already working hard.

Let’s not make the kidneys work harder if they don’t have to. Your vet can help you decide if your pup will benefit from this supplement or not.

Almost all the other heart supplements we researched are beneficial for the heart if the dog is deficient in it. We highly recommend working with your vet rather than just randomly supplementing, especially in the case of supplements like Vitamin E, where an overdose can be toxic.

A quick blood test can tell your vet if there are any deficiencies, and correct problems without overdosing your pet on supplements they don’t need.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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