CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets Blog

All About Heart Murmurs in Cats and Dogs

December 2019

2020 CVCA Calendar Contest Winners

November 2019

We've already announced our 2020 Calendar Contest winners on social media, but we'd like to share their stories and help you get to know them better today.

How You Can Help During National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month

October 2019

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are approximately 6.5 million animals that enter shelters in the United States on an annual basis. Of that 6.5 million, about 3.4 million are dogs, and unfortunately, roughly 670,000 of those dogs will be euthanized. Because of this, we want to bring more awareness to National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month.

The Top Dog Memes from 2019 (for balance!)

September 2019

Compassion, excellence, and integrity—these are the three core values that we embrace here at CVCA. When it comes to our patients, clients, and veterinary partners, we are always striving to provide and promote the most optimal care for pets that we can. With trust and honesty, CVCA will always work to diagnose and treat heart disease as early as possible, providing your pet with a longer and healthier life.

Our Favorite Cat Memes of 2019 (So Far)

August 2019

Here at CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets, our focus has always been about creating the best possible experience and outcome for all of our cardiac patients and families. Sometimes, the best way to do that is to lighten up the mood with a good laugh. So what makes for a “purrfect” way to de-stress and get a good laugh in during your day? Cat memes, of course!

10 Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs & Cats

July 2019

Heart disease affects dogs and cats of all ages. Puppies and kittens can be born with an abnormal heart while older pets develop heart problems with age.  Signs of heart disease can be hard to notice so we developed this list of things to watch for in your pet that builds on our 10 Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs & Cats infographic. (Note that symptoms 1-4 always warrant a vet visit.)

Celebrating National Pet Month with Our Animal Friends

May 2019

May is National Pet Month, a time to give thanks for all the benefits that our furry friends bring into our lives. To celebrate, we spun through our Instagram feed of recent patients to find some of the happiest, silliest and sweetest pups and kitties to share. We hope you enjoy meeting some of our patients as you celebrate your own pet companions all month long!

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month: Learn More with These Helpful Tips

April 2019

Did you know that April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month? Established by the American Red Cross to bring life-saving tips to pet owners and animal service providers like pet sitters, dog walkers, and groomers, Pet First Aid Awareness Month is something we promote here at CVCA to help our clients handle medical issues at home and while traveling.

Keep Your Pet Safe During National Animal Poison Prevention Week

March 2019

Weak Heart from Dog Food? Some Dogs Recover!

March 2019

A weak heart from diet problems (Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy-DCM) was first seen in dogs in the mid-1990s.  At that time, certain breeds (i.e. Golden Retrievers and American Cocker Spaniels) were found to be more prone to this problem.  Over the past few years, veterinarians have seen an increase in the number of DCM cases in many different breeds, some at very young ages, that may be diet-associated.  Due to this concern, in July 2018, the FDA issued an alert to pet owners about the potential problem between some diets and heart disease in dogs.

As of today, we still don’t have the answer about why some diets are linked to this disease. The group of diets that are most commonly fed in these cases is grouped into a term - BEG which stands for Boutique, Exotic, and Grain-free.  The good news is that some dogs will improve and can go back to normal lives with a change in diet and supplementation of a nutrient called taurine.

Lance, a 14-year-old Labrador Retriever mix, first came to CVCA in February 2017.  His family was noticing coughing and breathing harder, then he seemed to faint after taking a walk.  For 5 years, he ate a vegan diet (which qualifies as “boutique”) and was occasionally given dairy products and eggs.  CVCA found that Lance had advanced DCM and heart failure causing his problems. We also checked the level of taurine in his body and it was very low.  Lance started medications and changed his diet and was sent home that same day. At his 3-month recheck, Lance was doing great with no coughing or fainting.  His heart muscle was much stronger and he got to take less medicine. By 8-months, he was better still and by 16 months, his heart was almost back to normal!

Not all dogs recover like Lance.  Another CVCA patient, Lucy, a 13-year-old Labrador Retriever, had similar problems. Her energy and play got a lot better with medicine and a diet change but her heart muscle never recovered. Lucy’s family is thrilled because she can play again with her 4-legged brother- swimming and running around the farm!  

Lance and Lucy both had serious heart disease but both were able to recover, have a lot more time with their families and feel great at home.  Neither one had any coughing or fainting once they started treatment and changed their diets.

Choosing a pet food is hard.  There are SO many out there and many are supposed to be “premium” but may not be the best food for our pets.  Most diets have a label that says it has the right recipe for dogs but many have not been tested by actually feeding that food to dogs to be sure the nutrition is right once the food is in the bag or can.

What should you do?

  • Talk with your primary care veterinarian about your pet’s diet.

  • Visit CVCA’s website for more information at

  • If you are feeding a BEG diet(Boutique, Exotic, and Grain-free), consider a change to a diet with more typical ingredients and made by a pet food company with a long track record for producing high-quality diets.

  • Food allergies, and especially grain-related allergies are uncommon in dogs.  However, if your dog needs to be on a limited ingredient diet, the best and safest option may be a prescription diet from your veterinarian.

  • For all dogs, watch for signs of heart disease that may include: rapid and/or heavy breathing, coughing, slowing down with exercise, weakness, and fainting.  If noted, contact your veterinarian.


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