Dogs and cats may suffer from heart and lung ailments; sometimes these diseases occur late in life and other times they are congenital abnormalities. A veterinary cardiologist can diagnose and treat diseases of the cardiovascular system, which include the heart (valves, muscle, and electrical conduction system) and blood vessels (veins & arteries), that can create secondary issues in the lungs.
In treatment, cardiologists use both human and veterinary licensed medications, as well as nutraceutical and nutritional support. Treatment plans are individually tailored to each pet. Your family veterinarian will often refer your pet to a cardiologist upon suspicion of heart disease. Similar to human medicine, patients with cardiac disease often show a greatly improved quality of life and longevity when managed by both a primary care veterinarian and a cardiologist. A team of doctors and a loving family will enable most pets to enjoy healthy, happy lives—even with a heart condition.
Referral to a Veterinary Cardiologist. While your family veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases and conditions can benefit from the care of a doctor who has undergone extensive specialized training in veterinary cardiology. WestVet’s Dr. Jason Arndt, a board-certified cardiologist, is a dedicated expert in this field—and the only veterinary heart specialist in Idaho and the surrounding region. In addition, Dr. Arndt will collaborate with the team of WestVet specialists and your family veterinarian to ensure that your beloved pet receives the highest quality care available.
Diagnosing a cardiology problem in your pet. Most cardiac conditions can be diagnosed using an electrocardiogram (ECG) or a cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram) by a veterinary cardiologist. Chest x-rays will also aid in the diagnosis of many conditions as well. Echocardiography is the minimally invasive gold standard to identify the source of most cardiac abnormalities. These tests are not painful, noninvasive, and are performed while your pet remains awake. These crucial diagnostics offer the cardiologist a great deal of information regarding the structure and function of the heart. Once the condition is properly diagnosed, treatment can begin.
- Six- or ten-lead electrocardiography
- Two-dimensional and color Doppler echocardiography
- Contrast echocardiography
- Thoracic radiography
- Cardiac catheterization
- Telemetry monitoring
- Holter/event monitoring
- Balloon valvuloplasty as treatment for pulmonic stenosis
- Balloon valvuloplasty for other congenital cardiac or vascular diseases
- Occlusion of patent ductus arteriosus (canine ductal occluders, vascular plugs, or coil embolization)
- Permanent and temporary pacemaker placement
- Heartworm extraction
- Palliative stenting
- Balloon pericardiotomy
Many veterinary cardiac patients are treated on an outpatient basis with medication while some require in-hospital treatment prior to discharge. Most pets tolerate cardiac medications remarkably well and most often maintain an excellent quality of life for the duration of treatment.