Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Suzanne Cunningham

Cardiology

A veterinary cardiologist, Dr. Suzanne Cunningham treats heart conditions in dogs, cats and other animals at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals. Her special interests are in interventional therapies for cardiac disease, new treatments for heart failure and cardiomyopathy and investigation of blood vessel function and dysfunction that may accompany heart disease. In addition to clinical work, she teaches veterinary labs and lectures in the cardiovascular pathophysiology, clinical skills and toxicology courses and moderates Problem Based Learning groups at the Cummings School. She is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in Cardiology.

As a child in New York, Dr. Cunningham had dogs, cats and a horse. Her first Boxer dog died of heart disease when she was nine. Although she debated going into law or politics, her love of animals won, and she pursued both a bachelor's and a veterinary degree at Cornell, never losing sight of her childhood loss. I know how difficult it is to lose an animal suddenly as a result of heart disease and have particular interest in investigating new therapies for treatment of heart disease in dogs, she says. After attending college and vet school at Cornell, she came to Tufts to complete a small animal internship and was impressed with the caseload, the students and the quality of medicine practiced here. After completing a residency in cardiology under the guidance of Dr. John Rush, she was offered a faculty position.

Dr. Cunningham recently adopted one of her more interesting cases of congenital heart disease—a Boxer puppy with multiple congenital defects, one she was able to help by performing a balloon valvuloplasty (repairing a stiff heart valve through a balloon catheter). She also recently treated a ferret with an atrioventricular block as well as a rabbit with heart failure. In addition to the challenging caseload, she says, I love working with the students, I love the professional interactions, and I am grateful for being able to offer our patients top-notch, state-of-the-art and compassionate care. I especially love the diverse mix of teaching, research and clinical service that comprise the faculty position.

Dr. Cunningham lives near the Cummings School Campus with her Boxer puppy, Tyler and a 13-year-old Boxer, Roxie. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, reading, watching movies and traveling.

Education

  • DVM - Cornell University (with Distinction) - 2003
  • BS - Cornell University (with Honors and Distinction) - 1999

Board Certification

  • American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine - Cardiology

What is your diagnosis?

Author(s):Mueller, M.S. | Cunningham, S.M. | Sato, A.F.
Publication year: 2014
Journal / Book title: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Comparison of serum fatty acid concentrations in cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and healthy controls

Author(s):Hall, D.J. | Freeman, L.M. | Rush, J.E. | Cunningham, S.M.
Publication year: 2014
Journal / Book title: Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery

A randomized study assessing the effect of diet in cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Author(s):Freeman, L.M. | Rush, J.E. | Cunningham, S.M. | Bulmer, B.J.
Publication year: 2014
Journal / Book title: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Association of dilated cardiomyopathy with the striatin mutation genotype in boxer dogs

Author(s):Meurs, K.M. | Stern, J.A. | Sisson, D.D. | Kittleson, M.D. | Cunningham, S.M. | Ames, M.K. | Atkins, C.E. | Defrancesco, T. | Hodge, T.E. | Keene, B.W. | Reina Doreste, Y. | Leuthy, M. | Motsinger-Reif, A.A. | Tou, S.P.
Publication year: 2013
Journal / Book title: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Acquired gerbode defect and third-degree atrioventricular block secondary to vehicular trauma in a dog

Author(s):Cunningham, S.M. | Lindsey, K.J. | Rush, J.E.
Publication year: 2013
Journal / Book title: Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care

Brain structural abnormalities in Doberman pinschers with canine compulsive disorder

Author(s):Ogata, N. | Gillis, T.E. | Liu, X. | Cunningham, S.M. | Lowen, S.B. | Adams, B.L. | Sutherland-Smith, J. | Mintzopoulos, D. | Janes, A.C. | Dodman, N.H. | Kaufman, M.J.
Publication year: 2013
Journal / Book title: Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry

Short-Term Effects of Atorvastatin in Normal Dogs and Dogs with Congestive Heart Failure Due to Myxomatous Mitral Valve Disease

Author(s):Cunningham, S.M. | Rush, J.E. | Freeman, L.M.
Publication year: 2013
Journal / Book title: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Evaluation of a training course in focused echocardiography for noncardiology house officers

Author(s):Tse, Y.C. | Rush, J.E. | Cunningham, S.M. | Bulmer, B.J. | Freeman, L.M. | Rozanski, E.A.
Publication year: 2013
Journal / Book title: Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care

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Septic pericarditis in a cat with pyometra

Author(s):Majoy, S.B. | Sharp, C.R. | Dickinson, A.E. | Cunningham, S.M.
Publication year: 2013
Journal / Book title: Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care

Development and evaluation of a questionnaire for assessment of health-related quality of life in cats with cardiac disease

Author(s):Freeman, L.M. | Rush, J.E. | Oyama, M.A. | MacDonald, K.A. | Cunningham, S.M. | Bulmer, B. | MacGregor, J.M. | Laste, N.J. | Malakoff, R.L. | Hall, D.J. | Trafny, D.J.
Publication year: 2012
Journal / Book title: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Systemic Inflammation and Endothelial Dysfunction in Dogs with Congestive Heart Failure

Author(s):Cunningham, S.M. | Rush, J.E. | Freeman, L.M.
Publication year: 2012
Journal / Book title: Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine

General Research Interests

  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy in the Boxer
  • Inflammation in heart disease and heart failure
  • Endothelial dysfunction in heart failure
  • Endothelial progenitor cells in heart failure
  • Cardiac biomarkers
  • Novel medical and device therapies for congestive heart failure
  • Cardiac stem cell therapies

Research Interests by Area

Spontaneous Animal Disease Models
  • Hyertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy in Boxer dogs, dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs, degenerative mitral valve disease in small dogs.

Research Interests by Organ System and Disease

Cardiovascular Diseases and Nutrition
  • Endothelial dysfunction and circulating progenitor cells in heart failure, cardiac biomarkers, novel medical and device therapies for congestive heart failure, cardiac stem cell therapies. Endothelial function testing, endothelial progenitor cells, inflammatory biomarkers, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (canine), dilated cardiomyopathy (canine)

Major Specialized Equipment

  • Echocardiography, cardiac catheterization laboratory, MRI, CT, thromboelastography