Clinical Studies

Body Condition and Heart Health in Dogs


Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to determine whether body condition affects heart health in dogs and if poor body condition causes metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by hormone imbalances created by excess body fat and may be an associated risk factor for heart disease. These hormone imbalances may lead to increased blood pressure, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome has been associated with heart disease in humans, but the link has not yet been verified in dogs.


Dogs who participate is this study will help us to gather valuable information which will aid in establishing risk factors for canine heart disease. In the future this will lead to better preventative measures and better treatments in the field of veterinary cardiology. Participating dogs will receive a free cardiovascular exam and echocardiogram from a veterinary cardiologist. The study will cover the costs of the blood draw and analysis and a urinalysis.

Enrollment Requirements

Dogs who qualify for this study must be a smaller breed where ideal body weight is less than 25 pounds. In order to be enrolled, dogs must be much heavier than their ideal body weight, as determined by the Purina nine-point body condition system, and have no history of serious medical problems. Dogs with significant abnormalities in their heart valves will be excluded from this study but any results and recommendations will be provided to the owners.

Treatment Methods

Enrolled dogs must not have food for 10 to 12 hours prior to their examination. They will spend approximately 4 hours at the WSU-VTH where they will receive a cardiovascular exam and an echocardiogram from a veterinary cardiologist. If the dog’s heart is not enlarged, a cardiologist will draw 20 ml of blood (about 1 1/3 tablespoons), wait 90 minutes and then draw another 20 ml of blood. Urine will be also be collected and analyzed.

Owner Responsibilities

Owners are responsible for bringing their dog to the WSU-VTH on the arranged day of the examination.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:

Valorie Wiss, Clinical Studies Coordinator
Office: 509-335-0798
Cell: 509-432-5345

Raychel Fairchild, LVT Cardiology
Clinic: 509-335-0711