Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for humans both in the U.S. and globally. Practitioners in both human medicine and veterinary medicine are working diligently to raise public awareness of cardiovascular disease. Regular checkups for both humans and pets could easily spot the early warning signs of heart disease in humans, dogs and cats.
The correlation between both human and pet interaction is strong:
- Prevention and lifestyles are key. Risk factors must remain low and can include ownership of pets.
- Pets provide a positive effect on stress levels, blood pressure and emotional well-being.
- Dog ownership lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality according to an article published in Scientific Reports in November 2017.
Tips for protection from heart disease for people and pets, from the American Heart Association and CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets include:
Get Moving, Get Active
- Humans – Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week (that’s only 21 minutes per day!) You don’t have to do it alone- group classes and buddy activities can make work out time a lot more fun… Read more
CVCA is happy to announce our Pet of the Month calendar contest winners. Thank you to everyone who submitted a contest entry. We received hundreds of entries, making the choice very difficult, indeed!
Each of these special dogs will be featured in our 2018 calendar that will be available for purchase at our CVCA offices soon! Be sure to check out the final page for a special collage of many of our other contest entrants!
Pet of the Month Calendar Contest Winners:
Cover – Wilson
CVCA diagnosed Wilson with cardiomyopathy after a horrible life in Texas. We got him three weeks earlier from a rescue. Now that he’s on medicine, Wilson’s a whole new dog and loves to play with toys. Dr. Emily Olson, in the CVCA Richmond, VA office, is amazing and Wilson is so thankful for her because he can now enjoy life.
January – Remy
Because of CVCA’s care, compassion, knowledge, and current technology, our sweet Remy was able to celebrate her 10th birthday surrounded by her family and loved ones in style!
February – Louey
CVCA gave me five amazing months with my best friend Louey, before I helped him cross the Rainbow Bridge. Thank you, CVCA, for giving me time to spend with him and say, “Goodbye.”
March – Charlie
Charlie was so little when we brought him to CVCA that I was nervous for him. When we walked into the CVCA Towson, MD office, the staff was amazing and so kind. They made me feel better and made Charlie feel so loved. I left feeling much better about Charlie’s condition and relief knowing he has a wonderful place to go to for care. Thank you, CVCA, for all you do.
April – Gucci
Gucci got his life back AFTER his CVCA appointment! I went into CVCA not knowing anything about what I was getting into & expecting the worst. My Gucci, my world in a 20 lb. canine, “possibly” had an aneurysm of the heart, on top of already being treated for an enlarged heart for years per his prior vet. I cried & held him so tight for days until we got in at CVCA. All I could think of was how much I couldn’t be without him, and “Why us?” CVCA confirmed that there was nothing wrong with his heart AT ALL. I had never been so confused, yet so happy in my life!! CVCA not only confirmed my worst fears were wrong, but gave Gucci back his life. We went for a long hike after that day and he has been nothing but excited to be able to be more active.
May – Jinn
CVCA has given Jinn and me the chance to extend our quality time, the ability to feel good, and SEIZE THE DAY! Every day we are living life to the fullest.
June – Dobby
CVCA goes above and beyond to make sure Dobby’s dilated cardiomyopathy is always under control, as well as it can be. Without CVCA, he wouldn’t be here today.
July – Jesse
CVCA has allowed my family the opportunity to love on Jesse for years to come! He went to CVCA with a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) and a short life span if we didn’t have surgery to repair it. Jesse’s heart was oversized and working double time. He did great with surgery and now loves on all he comes across. CVCA may have repaired his large heart physically, but emotionally his heart is huge! The boy loves life!
August – Kyra
CVCA staff is wonderful and caring and we always receive wonderful service! We love Dr. Weidman and the Richmond, VA staff!!!
September – Mr. Kitty
CVCA staff is courteous, knowledgeable and provides excellent care.
October – Isabell Marie
Isabell Marie is my first-born fur child and love of my life, so when she was diagnosed at age 7 with Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), my heart just broke. The amazing staff at CVCA in Annapolis, MD helped us from start to finish. From routine monitoring upon diagnosis, to having a surgical intervention when she was 10 years old, to rechecks afterward. They are always fast, efficient, and most importantly—caring. Isabell Marie is celebrating her 14th birthday and she is a happy, and healthy pup living her happy life, thanks to CVCA!
November – Chula
Our baby girl, Chula, was rescued from a puppy mill and was born with a heart murmur. CVCA in Towson, MD performed surgery to implant a canine ductal occluder to normalize the blood flow to her heart. Today she’s a happy and healthy puppy!
December – Bongo
Following open-heart surgery, our veterinarian was called to tell her Bongo made it through with flying colors. My veterinarian said no other veterinarian ever called her to celebrate good news. The staff at CVCA helped put my mind at ease by getting my pet insurance pre-authorization on the surgery. The staff goes the extra mile to make you feel special.
Congratulations to these special pets and their owners! We are happy to be a part of so many life-saving stories every year. The love we have for our pets knows no bounds and CVCA is here for you and your pet whenever you need us. Happy holidays and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
By: Kacie Schmitt, DVM, Diplomate, ACVIM (Cardiology)
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease, caused by the heartworm Dirofilaria immitis, has been diagnosed around the globe, including the lower 48 states and Hawaii.
Domestic and wild dogs are the normal hosts for heartworms. Although less likely to develop a heartworm infection, cats and ferrets can harbor infections as well.
The life cycle of the heartworm is 7-9 months:
When is the transmission season?
The peak months for heartworm transmission in the Northern Hemisphere are typically July and August. However, urban sprawl has led to the formation of “heat islands,” as buildings and parking lots retain heat during the day creating microenvironments with the potential to support the development of heartworm larvae in mosquitos during colder months, thereby lengthening the transmission season, potentially enabling year-round transmission.
How do I know if my pet has heartworm disease?
Your primary care veterinarian will perform a blood test looking for microfilaria and adult heartworms on a yearly basis. Because of the lower risk and incidence of infection, cats, especially indoor-only cats, may not be tested for heartworm disease on an annual basis.
Some pets with mild heartworm infections do not show any symptoms. However, the signs commonly associated with heartworm disease can include:
- Exercise intolerance
- Changes in breathing (fast, labored)
- Syncope (fainting)
- Abnormal lung sounds on exam.
- Ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity)
- Breaking of the red blood cells inside the blood vessels (may notice dark brown to black color urine)
How is heartworm disease prevented?
Heartworm disease is preventable despite the fact that dogs are highly susceptible to infection. Heartworm preventative medications require a prescription from a licensed veterinarian as well as a record of a recent negative heartworm test. Preventative options include:
- Oral Medications
- Topical Medications
- Injections administered every 6 months by your veterinarian.
It is recommended that puppies be started on a heartworm preventative no later than 8 weeks of age and that it is continued year-round since transmission season is throughout the year in many regions.
The class of medication used to prevent heartworm disease is called macrocyclic lactones. It includes the preventive products containing ivermectin, milbemycin oxime, moxidectin, and selamectin. These medications are highly effective and known to among the safest medications used in veterinary medicine. However, some dogs may be sensitive to certain products and your primary care veterinarian will take this into consideration when discussing options with you.
|Drug||Route of Administration||Products Available|
Heartgard plus (Merial)
Iverhart max (Virbac)
Iverhart plus (Virbac)
|Milbemycin oxime||Oral||Sentinel (Novartis)
|Moxidectin||Topical||Advantage multi (Bayer)|
|Moxidectin||Injection under the skin||Proheart 6 (Zoetis)|
How is Heartworm Disease treated?
If infection is caught early, timely treatment can be provided to minimize the damage to your pet’s lungs.
Cats: There is no therapy to kill the adult heartworms in cats. Many cats tolerate their infection without any noticeable symptoms, or only mild symptoms. Therapy is aimed at preventing further infection by starting a macrocyclic lactone and allowing the adult heartworms to die naturally. In some cases, the infection is so severe that surgery is required to remove the heartworms.
Dogs: Treatment is a long process (about 6 months). To kill the adult heartworm, 3 injections of a drug called melarsomine are given over 2 months. Because the injections must be given deep in the muscle, swelling and soreness at the injection site may be present for a few days, but can be managed with pain medications. To kill the larva and juvenile heartworms, a macrocyclic lactone is started. Additionally, your pet may require prednisone, a corticosteroid used to help reduce inflammation in the lungs and clinical signs associated with the infection. In some severe cases, hospitalization for stabilization of respiratory signs, other cardiac medications, or surgical removal of the worms may be needed.
During and after the treatment process, severe exercise restriction is essential to minimize a potentially life-threatening complication, known as a pulmonary thromboembolism. A pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) is a blockage of the lung’s main artery or one of its branches. PTEs are an inevitable consequence of successful heartworm treatment because the dead worms will ultimately travel to the periphery of the lungs and lodge there. Mild PTEs often do not cause symptoms. However, severe PTEs can cause severe respiratory distress and death. For this reason, strict exercise restriction is required.
For more information about heartworm disease, please visit www.heartwormsociety.org
To learn more about CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets, visit www.cvcavets.com
Hope Advanced Veterinary Center, a leader in emergency and specialty veterinary medicine in the Washington, DC area is proud to announce the groundbreaking of a brand new veterinary specialty hospital in Rockville, MD.
CVCA – Cardiac Care for Pets is joining Hope Advanced Veterinary Center along with Bush Veterinary Neurology Service and Bush Advanced Veterinary Imaging, with board-certified veterinary surgeons, internists, cardiologists and neurologists to diagnose and treat advanced conditions in dogs and cats.
Located at 1 Taft Court, just off of East Gude Drive, Hope Advanced Veterinary Center will contain more than 32,000 square feet of veterinary medical space including on-site MRI, laboratory and 24/7 emergency center. Renovations of the building will help to revitalize a historic area of Rockville. The hospital will open in early 2014 in the thriving City of Rockville, recently named one of the top 10 places for young families in Maryland by NerdWallet.
CVCA – Cardiac Care for Pets, www.cvcavets.com
Hope Advanced Veterinary Specialty, www.hopecenter.com
Bush Veterinary Neurology Services (BVNS), www.BVNS.net
Bush Advanced Veteinary Imaging (BAVI), www.bushvetimaging.com
CVCA, the largest Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist group in the country with nine locations: Annapolis, MD; Frederick, MD; Gaithersburg, MD; Rockville, MD; Leesburg, VA; Richmond, VA; Springfield, VA; and Vienna, VA is conducting a new Feline Patient Atenolol study.
CVCA is actively enrolling feline patients, with newly diagnosed hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, in a study designed to substantiate our belief that treatment with the beta-blocker atenolol benefits this subset of patients.
For any feline patients that fulfill the inclusion criteria, we will be obtaining baseline levels of NT-proBNP and cardiac troponin I and assessing that effect of the administration of atenolol on the level of these important indices of myocardial stress and cell death over 6 months.
Our working hypothesis is that these cardiac biomarkers will improve with the administration of atenolol and further validate its use in patients with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. The biomarkers are important prognosticators in both human and veterinary cardiology. If the hypothesis is validated, it will provide a platform for more in-depth analysis of the survival benefits of treatment.
For more information, contact email@example.com.