Heart Health: Coenzyme Q10 for Pets
By: Adrienne A. Kruzer, RVT, LVT | Apr 14, 2021
The heart is undoubtedly a vital organ so keeping it healthy is of utmost concern. Some dogs and cats are unfortunately predisposed to heart disease, or develop issues as they age, and these pets may benefit from cardiac support. In addition to therapeutic diets and pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals such as l-carnitine, taurine, and coenzyme Q10 may help support your pet’s heart.
What is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is also known as ubiquinone-10 and is naturally found in animals. It is similar to a fat-soluble vitamin, acts as an antioxidant, and helps create energy in a pet’s body. In a body, CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria of cells and contributes to manufacturing adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a form of energy that is vital to all animals since it enables cells to function. Without it, cells will die off and eventually the organs that those cells are located in will also fail. Some organs, such as the heart, require more energy to function than others, so levels of CoQ10 are naturally higher in these places.
Why Would a Pet Need CoQ10 Supplementation?
There are several reasons why a pet’s CoQ10 levels may be low and therefore need supplementation. These reasons include vitamin B6 deficiencies, genetic factors, oxidative stress due to age, medication side effects, and various diseases. Heart issues in particular often coincide with low CoQ10 levels so it is often recommended for pets with heart disease to have their diets supplemented with this ingredient.1 Your veterinarian may also recommend supplementing your pet’s diet with CoQ10 if it is at risk for developing a heart condition due to breed, genetics, or other concerns, even if it isn’t showing signs of a current problem. Cavalier King Charles spaniels, boxers, and Maine coons are just some pet breeds that often experience heart disease and may benefit from CoQ10 supplementation. Other conditions, such as diabetes and those that involve the gums, liver, brain, and kidneys, may also see improvement with CoQ10.
Common Heart Diseases and CoQ10 in Pets
Dogs and cats can develop several types of heart disease but some of the most common issues include mitral valve disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure. In dogs with mitral valve disease and congestive heart failure, CoQ10 specifically helps to decrease the size of the heart muscle cells, improve blood flow from the heart, and decrease cardiac troponin levels which indicate muscle damage. One pilot study consisting of 13 dogs with mitral valve disease showed they had “improved cardiac function”2 after being supplemented with CoQ10 for 28 days. Another study looked at dogs with congestive heart failure and while it did not find that these dogs had low CoQ10 levels, it still found a benefit to administering CoQ103. Other heart diseases like dilated cardiomyopathy may also benefit from CoQ10 supplementation but this is based on studies done in humans.
How is CoQ10 Administered to Pets?
Administration levels will depend on the pet’s body weight so some may require higher or lower amounts of CoQ10 than others, but sources vary on dosage recommendations. Dosages may range from 1-10 mg/lb of body weight per day and products are available as liquid soft gels and capsules containing powder.
Is CoQ10 Safe for Your Pet?
While it is generally considered a safe supplement, CoQ10 should be discussed with your veterinarian prior to administering it to your pet. Medication interactions and certain health conditions may mean it is not safe for your pet to take this supplement and pets that are taking medications for high blood pressure, blood clots, and cancer may particularly not be good candidates for CoQ10 supplementation. Some pets experience temporary gastrointestinal upset, like vomiting and diarrhea, when they start taking CoQ10 or if they accidentally consume a large amount of it, but this is usually self-limiting and resolves in a couple of days.
Can CoQ10 Help Your Pet’s Heart?
If your pet has heart disease or you are concerned about your pet’s risk for developing it in the future, CoQ10 may be helpful. Most of the research that has been done on CoQ10 has been done in humans but some research in dogs, mice, and rats has shown promising effects. Your veterinarian is the best resource for maintaining your pet’s heart health so ask them if CoQ10 is right for your pet.
- Garrido-Maraver J, Cordero MD, Oropesa-Avila M, Vega AF, de la Mata M, Pavon AD, Alcocer-Gomez E, Calero CP, Paz MV, Alanis M, de Lavera I, Cotan D, Sanchez-Alcazar JA. Clinical applications of coenzyme Q10. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2014 Jan 1;19:619-33. doi: 10.2741/4231. PMID: 24389208.
- Tachampa K, Lertwanakarn T, Atchariyasakchai P, Pumpitakkul V, Kireewan S, Buranakar C. Effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on cardiac troponin I level, heart rate variability, and echocardiographic profiles in canine with myxomatous degenerative mitral valve disease: a pilot study. The Thai Journal of Veterinary Medicine; Bangkok Vol. 48, Iss. 3, (Sep 2018): 443-452.
- Harker-Murray AK, Tajik AJ, Ishikura F, Meyer D, Burnett JC, Redfield MM. The role of coenzyme Q10 in the pathophysiology and therapy of experimental congestive heart failure in the dog. J Card Fail. 2000 Sep;6(3):233-42. doi: 10.1054/jcaf.2000.8839. PMID: 10997750.
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.