What is a board certified veterinary cardiologist?

  • Veterinary cardiologists are veterinarians who have undertaken 4 years of​ additional training after completing veterinary school to become specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease in animals. Veterinary cardiologists have completed and passed a rigorous board certification process to obtain diplomate status through the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM).


​Why does my pet need to see a veterinary cardiologist?

  • There are a number of reasons why your pet's veterinarian may recommend consultation and work-up with us.  Here are a few:

  • Identification of a new or changing heart murmur
  • Identification of irregular heart beats (arrhythmias)
  • Screening for heart disease prior to scheduling an anesthetic procedure for your pet when a cardiac problem is suspected
  • Further work-up after heart enlargement is appreciated on your pet's chest x-rays
  • ​​Further work-up for a pet that has symptoms that may be related to heart disease such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, or fainting spells
  • Further work-up after identification of fluid accumulation in your pet's abdomen, chest cavity, or lungs 
  • Cardiac evaluation after elevated NT-proBNP values have been detected on blood screening tests
  • Screening for cardiac tumors after a pet is found to have fluid accumulation in the sac that surrounds the heart​

Can I be present during my pet's cardiology work-up?

  • Due to our ever-changing schedule, emergency consultations and travel between veterinary hospitals we are not able to offer face-to-face appointments.  You will, however, receive a phone call from the cardiologist to discuss all findings and recommendations after your pet's work-up is complete. 

How do I schedule an appointment for my pet?

  • All appointments with CACC must be booked through your primary care veterinarian.  If you would like your pet to be evaluated by CACC please contact your veterinarian to discuss setting up a visit.

What tests may be recommended to evaluate my pet for heart disease?

  • ​Echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound): This test uses ultrasound to non-invasively image and evaluate the structure and function of the heart.  Your pet may need to have a small amount of hair clipped on the side of the chest to allow adequate images to be obtained.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test is used to record the electrical activity of the heart in order to diagnose the origin and significance of abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Chest x-rays: This test may be needed to look for abnormal fluid accumulation inside or around the lungs which would indicate that a pet has developed congestive heart failure.
  • Holter monitor: This test provides a 24 hour ECG recording that may be used for in-depth assessment of abnormal heart rhythms, screening for cardiomyopathy, or assessment of the success of antiarrhythmic treatments.
  • Blood testing: Pets that need to take daily cardiac medications may require occasional blood tests to monitor kidney function, electrolyte levels, or drug levels.

If pets are diagnosed with heart disease, can anything be done to treat them?

  • Yes! Advancements in the treatment options for dogs and cats with heart disease are constantly being made.
  • Dogs and cats can be diagnosed with a variety of different heart diseases.  Some heart abnormalities are present at birth (congenital defects) while other heart diseases develop later in life.
  • Certain congenital heart defects may be able to be cured or significantly improved with a surgery or an interventional (catheter-based) procedure if they are diagnosed in time.  Other congenital defects can only be palliated.
  • Adult-onset heart diseases typically cannot be cured. Some of these diseases are mild and may never impact a pet's quality of life or longevity. Other adult-onset heart diseases can shorten a pet's lifespan and may cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, coughing, or fainting. Those pets that do develop symptoms of heart disease can often be managed with medication to maintain good quality of life for a variable period of time. 
  • Even pets that develop congestive heart failure can often be successfully managed with a combination of medications and enjoy additional months or years of quality life. 

Will my pet need to be sedated?

  • When pets are nervous or anxious it can interfere with our ability to perform and interpret cardiac tests.  Heart-friendly sedatives may be needed to complete the examination and work-up if your pet is too nervous to stay still and remain calm during the required tests.