Veterinary Cardiologist | Cat & Dog Cardiology

What is a Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist?

Cardiology is a medical specialty that focuses on diseases affecting the heart 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 Board certified in Veterinary Cardiology, a licensed veterinarian must complete a minimum of four additional years of training in an accredited advanced training program. This means four extra years of training after the eight years of veterinary medical school. Following this additional training, a series of demanding examinations 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 residencies, are accredited by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) to ensure consistency and high standard. All Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologists have undergone extensive training in advanced diagnostics like echocardiography (ultrasound examination of the heart), angiocardiography (evaluation of blood flow in the heart and great vessels by the use of dyes), thoracic radiology (chest X-Rays), and electrocardiography (ECG, an evaluation of the heart rhythm or electrical activity of the heart) to allow the diagnosis of specific diseases affecting the heart.

Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologists are also trained in the medical treatment and the management of heart disease as well as in minimally invasive methods (non-surgical) of treating certain diseases of the heart, called interventional cardiology. Interventional cardiology includes fixing or helping to treat patients with congenital cardiac disease, placing pacemakers, and even removing heartworms with severe infections.

What Species Can A Cardiologist Treat?

A Veterinary Cardiologist is trained in the treatment of all species (dogs, cats, horses, cows, birds, ferrets, etc.) other than humans. However, most treat small animals, primarily dogs and cats.

At Coral Springs Animal Hospital, our Board-Certified Cardiology Specialist is highly experienced in cat and dog cardiology.

Will I Need To Leave My Pet for Testing?

Typically no, but it depends on the type of diagnostic testing that is recommended. Most initial 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). Further testing besides the echocardiogram may also be recommended based on the history, physical examination, and results of the echocardiogram. 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). Sometimes patients have to stay longer than expected due to cardiac disease-causing fluid build-up in a body cavity that needs to be removed as well.

What Diseases Does A Veterinary Cardiologist Treat?

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
  • Arrhythmias
  • Age-related changes to 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)
  • Relaxation abnormality of the heart muscles without significant thickening of the heart muscle (Unclassified cardiomyopathy or Restrictive cardiomyopathy)
  • Inflammation or Infections of the heart and valves (Myocarditis or Endocarditis)
  • Birth defects of the heart including patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis, sub-aortic stenosis, atrial and ventricular septal defects (hole in the heart)
  • Tumors of the heart Fluid build-up in the sac around the heart (pericardial effusion)
  • Congestive heart failure