Cardiology is the medical specialty that focuses on diseases affecting the heart, lungs, and major blood vessels. Board certified veterinary cardiologists have been specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases and are certified through rigorous examinations.
To become certified in cardiology, a licensed veteran must complete a minimum of three additional years of training, in an accredited advanced training program following the completion of four years of veterinary medical school. Following this additional training, a series of demanding examination must be passed to obtain certification. The exams are administered by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialty of Cardiology (DACVIM - Cardiology).
All cardiology training programs, called residences, are accredited by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) to ensure consistency and high standard. All board certified cardiologist have undergone extensive training in echocardiography (ultrasound examination of the heart), angiocardiography (evaluation of blood flow in the heart and great vessels by the use of dyes), radiology (X-Rays), and electrocardiography (ECG) to allow the diagnosis of specific diseases affecting the heart.
Board certified cardiologists are also trained in the medical treatment and the management of heart disease as well as in minimally invasive methods (non-surgical) of correcting certain diseases of the heart, called interventional cardiology.
A veterinarian cardiologist is trained in the treatment of all species (dogs, cats, horses, birds, ferrets ECT...) other than man. However, most treat small animals primarily dogs and cats..
It depends on the type of diagnostic testing that is recommended. However, most in-patient appointments consist of a thorough cardiovascular physical examination, assessment of the patient's blood pressure, and an ultrasound examination of the heart (echocardiogram). These evaluations are performed with the pet's family present so that the findings and recommendations can be discussed. Further testing besides the echocardiogram may also be recommended to further determine the affects of the heart disease on your pet's other organs. These additional tests may require your pet to remain at the hospital for several hours. These tests would include the electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess the electrical activity of the heart, X-Rays of the chest to assess the lungs and airways, as well as blood tests to evaluate the function of the other body systems (kidneys, liver, ECT...)
- Veterinary cardiologists are specifically trained in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the heart. This includes, but is not limited to the following: - Heart murmurs
- Scarring of the heart valves (chronic valvular disease, endocardiosis)
- Pumping dysfunction and failure of the heart muscles, dilated cardiomyopathy, boxer cardiomyopathy (Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy)
- Abnormal thickening of the heart muscle (Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy)
- Scarring or fibrosis of the heart muscles (Unclassified cardiomyopathy)
- Infections of the heart and valves (Myocarditis or Endocarditis)
- Birth defects of the heart, patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis, sub-aortic stenosis, artial and ventricular septal defects (hole in the heart)
- Tumors of the heart
- Disease of the sac (pericardium) surrounding the heart to include pericardial effusion
- Congestive heart failure
- Forward heart failure
Veterinary Cardiologists also are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the lungs and airways to include:
- Bronchitis (Acute and Chronic) - Allergic airway disease
- Collapsing trachea