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The Barkley Fund's Impact 2/29/2020

The Barkley Fund makes the HeartSmart website possible. This fund supports the advancement of veterinary cardiology and veterinary emergency and critical care medicine through research, collaboration, and training.

The Barkley Fund was established to celebrate a special Great Dane and to honor all those who are devoted to dogs and cats. Barkley suffered from a heart disorder that is almost always fatal. Cummings veterinarians devised an innovative program of medication and diet that helped Barkley live a full, high-quality life.

Barkley's owners established the Barkley Fund to foster ongoing innovation in cardiology and emergency/critical care medicine. The fund provides resources for activities that promote scientific inquiry, collaboration, and training to improve the care of animals with heart disease.

  • Supporting Clinical Investigations: There are limited funds available to advance the knowledge of cardiac diseases in dogs and cats, and the Barkley funds help to support clinical projects. The ultimate goal of a research study is to publish the findings in a peer-reviewed manuscript, and the Barkley Fund has helped get more than 25 manuscripts published (see list below). Many of these publications helped students or residents in their first exposure to a clinical investigation, and many of these individuals have gone on to complete advanced training and produce new information with their own research (clinical studies by students and residents are noted with *).  Many other small studies were made possible by the Barkley Fund, and these studies often resulted in the dissemination of new information at veterinary meetings via a scientific abstract or short communication (see list of studies below).
  • Supporting Teaching and Learning: The Barkley Fund has helped numerous individuals attend meetings to learn or to present their new scientific information (see list below). The Barkley Fund has reached even more people by sponsoring the development of the HeartSmart website to help owners of dogs and cats with heart disease learn how to best manage their pet’s heart disease ( The Barkley Fund has also helped our cardiology residents learn by supporting acquisition of needed teaching materials or sponsoring travel to a meeting. Finally, the Barkley Fund sponsored development of a video to help veterinarians assess muscle condition and muscle loss, which develops with heart disease and several other diseases such as cancer or kidney disease (

Peer-reviewed publications supported by the Barkley Fund (* indicates a student or resident project)

  1. Freeman LM, Rush JE, Farabaugh AE, Must A. Development and evaluation of a questionnaire for assessing health-related quality of life in dogs with cardiac disease.  J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:1864-1868.
  2. Freeman LM, Smith CE, Meurs KM, Rush JE, Lamb A, Bibus D. Relationship between ventricular premature contractions (VPC) and fatty acid concentrations in Boxers versus Doberman pinschers.  J Vet Intern Med 2005;19:453.
  3. Rush JE, Lee ND, Freeman LM, Brewer B. C-reactive protein concentration in dogs with chronic valvular disease. J Vet Intern Med 2006;20:635-639.
  4. *Puglia GD, Freeman LM, Rush JE, King RGP, Crawford SL. Use of a flow-mediated vasodilation technique to assess endothelial function in dogs Am J Vet Res 2006;67:1533-1540.
  5. *Yang VK, Freeman LM, Rush JE. Morphometric measurements and insulin-like growth factor in normal cats and cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  Am J Vet Res 2008;69: 1061-1066.
  6. *Smith CE, Freeman LM, Meurs KM, Rush JE, Lamb A. Plasma fatty acid concentrations in Boxers and Doberman pinschers.  Am J Vet Res 2008;69:195-198.
  7. *Cunningham SM, Rush JE, Freeman LM. Effects of atorvastatin on endothelial function, lipid profiles and inflammatory markers in healthy dogs and dogs with congestive heart failure. J Vet Intern Med 2008;22:718.
  8. Stokol T, Brooks M, Rush JE, Rishniw M, Erb H, Rozanski E, Kraus MS, Gelzer AL. Hypercoagulability in cats with cardiomyopathy.  J Vet Intern Med 2008;22:546-552.
  9. *Bragg RR, Freeman LM, Fascetti AJ, Yu Z. Composition, disintegrative properties, and labeling compliance of commercial taurine and carnitine supplements.  J Am Vet Med Assoc 2009;234:209-213.
  10. Freeman LM, Rush JE, Oyama MA, MacDonald KA, Cunningham SM, Bulmer B, MacGregor JM, Laste NJ, Malakoff RL, Hall DJ, Trafny DJ. Development and evaluation of a questionnaire for assessment of health-related quality of life in cats with cardiac disease.  J Am Vet Med Assoc 2012;240:1188-1193.
  11. *Hall DJ, Rush JE, de Laforcade AM, Shaw SP. Kaolin-activated thromboelastography in echocardiographically normal cats.  Am J Vet Res 2012;73:775-778.
  12. *Cunningham SM, Rush JE, Freeman LM. Systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in dogs with congestive heart failure.  J Vet Intern Med 2012;26: 47-557
  13. *Tse YC, Rush JE, Cunningham S, Bulmer B, Freeman LM, Rozanski EA. Evaluation of a training course in focused echocardiography for non-cardiology house officers.  J Vet Emerg Crit Care 2013;23:268-273.
  14. *Cunningham SM, Rush JE, Freeman LM. Short-term effects of atorvastatin in normal dogs and dogs with congestive heart failure due to myxomatous mitral valve disease. J Vet Intern Med 2013;27:985-989.
  15. Rozanski EA, Buckley GJ, Sharp CR, Cunningham SM, Rush JE. Prospective evaluation of the endothelin-1 receptor antagonist Bosentan in feline arterial thromboembolism.  J Vet Intern Med 2014;28:1003.
  16. Freeman LM, Rush JE, Cunningham SM, Bulmer BJ. A randomized pilot study assessing the effect of diet in cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  J Vet Intern Med 2014;28:847-856.
  17. Machen MC, Oyama MA, Gordon SG, Rush JE, Achen SE, Stepien RL, Fox PR, Saunders AB, Cunningham SM, Lee PM, Kellihan HB. Multi-centered investigation of a point-of-care NT-proBNP ELISA assay to detect moderate to severe occult (pre-clinical) feline heart disease in cats referred for cardiac evaluation.  J Vet Cardiol 2014:16:245-255.
  18. Freeman LM, Rush JE, Cunningham SM, Yang VK, Bulmer BJ. Use of a myostatin antagonist to combat cardiac cachexia in dogs with congestive heart failure. J Vet Cardiol 2015;17:210-215.
  19. *Sauer JL, Freeman LM, Rush JE. A pilot study investigating dietary factors with possible associations with canine degenerative mitral valve disease.  J Vet Med Res 2015;2:1035.
  20. Rush JE, Freeman LM, Cunningham SM, Yang VK, Bulmer BJ, Antoon KN. Assessment of the responsiveness of the Cats' Assessment Tool for Cardiac Health (CATCH) questionnaire.  J Vet Cardiol 2016;17:S341-S348.
  21. *Roderick KV, Abelson AL, Nielsen L, Price LL, Quinn R. Evaluation of red blood cell distribution width as a prognostic indicator in cats with acquired heart disease, with and without congestive heart failure.  J Fel Med Surg 2017;19:648-656.
  22. *Pierce KV, Rush JE, Freeman LM, Cunningham SM, Yang VK. Association between survival time and changes in NT-proBNP in cats treated for congestive heart failure.  J Vet Intern Med 2017;31:678-684.
  23. Freeman LM, Sutherland-Smith J, Prantil LR, Sato AF, Rush JE, Barton BA. Quantitative assessment of muscle in dogs using a Vertebral Epaxial Muscle Score. Can J Vet Res 2017; 81: 255-260
  24. Freeman LM, Sutherland-Smith J, Cummings C, Rush JE. Evaluation of a quantitatively derived value for assessment of muscle mass in clinically normal cats.  Am J Vet Res 2018;79:1188-1192
  25. Freeman LM, Rush JE, Helburn AM. Validation of a health-related quality of life (QoL) questionnaire for owners of dogs with heart disease.  Anthrozoos 2018;31:685-693.
  26. *Loughran KA, Rush JE, Rozanski EA, Oyama MA, Larouche-Lebel E, Kraus MS. The use of focused cardiac ultrasound to screen for occult heart disease in asymptomatic cats.  J Vet Intern Med 2019;33:1892-1901.
  27. *Karlin ET, Rush JE, Freeman LM. A pilot study investigating circulating trimethylamine N-oxide and its precursors in dogs with degenerative mitral valve disease with or without congestive heart failure.  J Vet Intern Med 2019;33:46-53.
  28. *Santiago SL, Freeman LM, Rush JE. Cardiac cachexia in cats with congestive heart failure:  Prevalence and clinical, laboratory, and survival findings.  J Vet Intern Med 2020;34:35-44.

Additional scientific investigations resulting an short communications or an abstract

  • *Durkan SD, Rush JE, Rozanski EA, Brown DJ, Freeman LM. Echocardiographic findings in dogs with hypovolemia. J Vet Emerg Crit Care 2005;15:S4.
  • Freeman LM, Rush JE. Relationship between cachexia and lymphocyte subpopulations and hematologic parameters in dogs with spontaneously-occurring congestive heart failure. Proc Third Cachexia Conference, Rome, Italy. December 8-10,2005 82.
  • Development of an Cardiac Nutritional Risk Index for dogs with congestive heart failure. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Student Research Day, October, 2017.
  • N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) in feline arterial thromboembolism. J Vet Intern Med 2018;32;2176.
  • *Beaumier A, Robinson S, Robinson N, Lopez K, Meola D, Barber L, Bulmer B, Calvalido J, Rush J, Yang V. Extracellular vesicular microRNAs as potential biomarker for early detection of doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in the dog.  J Vet Intern Med 2019;33:2394.
  • Freeman L, Rush J, Adin D, Weeks K, Antoon A, Brethel S, Cunningham S, dos Santos L, Girens R, Karlin E, Lopez K, Rouben C, Vereb M, Yang V.  J Vet Intern Med (to be presented June, 2020).

Teaching and learning activities supported by the Barkley Fund:

  • Veterinary conferences
    • American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Forum. The ACVIM Forum is an annual conference for specialists in veterinary cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, and oncology.  The Barkley Fund has helped support attendance of cardiologists, residents, and cardiology technicians to share research findings and support learning of new ideas for improved diagnosis and treatment for heart disease in dogs and cats.
    • Cardiology team members have attended advanced echocardiography training to perfect their skills for diagnosing heart disease in dogs and cats and to bring back information on new techniques that can be used in our patients.
  • Human conferences (examples)
    • American Heart Association. Our veterinary cardiologists attend the largest meeting of cardiologists in the world where state-of-the-art information is presented on optimal methods of diagnosing and treating heart disease. This information is used to generate research ideas and incorporated into the care of patients in our hospital.
    • Our cardiologists have attended human conferences to develop new techniques for placement of pacemakers in dogs with slow heart rates. Other conferences have helped our cardiologists to bring minimally-invasive techniques to Cummings to treat various cardiovascular diseases, such as valvular heart disease, using specially-designed catheters that are passed through blood vessels.
  • Educational resources
    • HeartSmart website ( The HeartSmart website was first launched in 2010 as a resource for owners of cats and dogs with heart disease. The HeartSmart website has become one of the most widely used websites at the university, providing easy-to-understand information on different types of heart diseases, along with their diagnosis,  treatment, and nutritional management. In 2020, we will be launching a new website that will significantly expand and enhance information for pet owners and veterinarians
    • Muscle condition score video ( Dogs and cats, like people, lose muscle as they age and when they develop certain diseases such as heart failure, kidney disease or cancer.  Muscle loss, called cachexia, is often not identified until it is very advanced. The Barkley Fund helped fund the development of a video to help veterinarians and pet owners assess muscle condition to be able to identify muscle loss at its earliest stages when treatment is more likely to be successful.

If you would like to help us with our work to advance knowledge and learning about heart disease in dogs and cats, you can donate at

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