Our cardiologists evaluate, diagnose and treat congenital and acquired heart diseases. This comprehensive practice offers specialized diagnostics and invasive procedures relevant to management of cardiovascular diseases in pets.
As a specialized practice within a multi-speciality hospital, we provide integrated specialized care for pets with complex, multi-systemic disease and assist in the management of cardiac complications of other disease processes. When necessary, we make recommendations for and facilitate transfer to our surgeons when surgical intervention or therapy is required.
We work closely with your regular veterinarian to keep them updated on our findings and recommendations and partner with them to provide for your pet’s ongoing care.
Check in form
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If your veterinarian has evaluated your pet and recommended that he or she make an appointment with one of our Board-Certified Specialists, we ask that your veterinarian complete our referral form.
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The echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. Our highly sophisticated echocardiograph is the same equipment used in human hospitals such as Akron General and the Cleveland Clinic. With this machine, we obtain two dimensional views of the heart, including all four chambers of the heart, valves and major blood vessels. Using Doppler, we can also evaluate the speed, direction, and quality of blood flow. The picture from an echocardiogram is much more detailed information about the heart than a radiograph and involves no radiation exposure. The echocardiogram is non-invasive and does not require anesthesia, although a light sedative may be used, on rare occasion, for some of our uncooperative patients or in puppies and kittens.
Radiographs are one of the most common diagnostics performed. Radiographs, or x-rays, of the chest are usually done to evaluate heart size and the lung fields. Congestive heart failure is diagnosed when the radiographs show evidence of fluid in the lungs in conjunction with cardiac changes. X-rays are a non-invasive test. The patient is placed on their side for one view and then on their back for the second view. The results are ready within seconds and available for interpretation by Dr. Hitchcock, Dr. Villalba, and our radiologists (IDEXX Teleradiology).
Monitoring your pet’s blood pressure is often important in caring for him/her in the face of heart disease. This is another non-invasive procedure performed a little differently than in human medicine. We measure your pet’s front leg (tail and rear legs work as well) and based on that measurement choose the proper cuff size for the limb. Instead of using a stethoscope to listen for blood flow return after inflating and then slowly deflating the cuff, we use a Doppler device which amplifies the sound of the blood flow. With the Doppler we are able to measure the systolic (top number) blood pressure. Normal blood pressure in a dog is 100-160 mmHg, and in a cat is 110-160 mmHg.
An ECG is a recording of the electrical activity in your pet’s heart. It is used most commonly to diagnose an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, in your pet. Changes on the ECG can also suggest enlargement of specific heart chambers. This is a non-invasive procedure where we have the capability to evaluate your pet’s heart rhythm by a rhythm strip (leads I, II, and III), 6-lead and 12-lead ECGs. We look at multiple leads to evaluate the electrical activity from different locations of your pet’s body.
A Holter monitor is a special ECG recording device that your pet would wear home for heart rhythm monitoring purposes. Holter Monitors are worn for 24 hours, but in some cases can be worn for up to a week. A Holter is most commonly used to look for transient arrhythmias that may be missed on an in-clinic ECG, to evaluate frequency and severity of an arrhythmia, and to monitor response to anti-arrhythmic therapy.
An Loop Recorder is also a way to look for transient arrhythmia in a pet that is having collapse or other unexplained symptoms. This device is implanted superficially under the skin over the heart during a very brief anesthesia. This monitor has a battery life of up to three years and has a several minute period of heart rhythm in its memory that is consistently updated. When certain criteria are met, or when the Owner witnesses an event and triggers the device, that period of heart rhythm (about 7 minutes) around the trigger is stored for later retrieval. Once an animal has an event, we can download the information from the device non-invasively at a quick appointment. These monitors are used to investigate intermittent episodes of collapse when no other reason for the collapse can be identified with a thorough work-up.
Fluoroscopy provides a moving image type of radiograph. It is a non-invasive tool but does involve radiation exposure and is usually done in a sedated or anesthetized patient. In cardiology, fluoroscopy is a vital tool for performing invasive diagnostics and procedures such a cardiac catheterization, angiography, and pacemaker implantion.