Frequently Asked Questions: Pet Owners
What is a veterinary cardiologist?
A veterinary cardiologist is a veterinarian who is a specialist of heart disease in animals. In order to become a board certified cardiologist, a veterinarian completes an additional 3-5 years of specialized training in cardiology after the completing the 4 years of veterinary school and 2-4 years of undergraduate training. That’s up to 13 years of schooling to become a cardiology specialist. Veterinary cardiologists are trained not only in cardiac ultrasound, but also in cardiac anatomy and physiology. This extensive training helps them to know not only how to diagnose heart disease, but also the best treatments. Veterinarians that are board certified Diplomats of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine undergo a rigorous credentialing and testing process to obtain this distinction. Veterinary cardiologists are dedicated to the accurate diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in pets.
How do I know if my pet has heart disease?
The best way to monitor your pet for heart disease is to have regular (at least yearly) check-ups with your regular veterinarian. Your veterinarian may detect an abnormality on a physical examination, such as a heart murmur or irregular heart rhythm that would make them suspicious of heart disease. Signs you may notice at home could include coughing, difficulty breathing, weakness, collapsing, or exercise intolerance. If you notice any abnormal signs in your pet, they should be evaluated by your primary care veterinarian, who will determine if a cardiology consultation is needed.
How do I schedule an appointment?
Contact your regular veterinarian about scheduling an appointment with JVCC or contact one of the referral hospitals we visit. If your pet is ill, or having an emergency, contact your regular veterinarian or the closest emergency hospital right away.
What happens during an appointment?
During your pet’s appointment, a complete cardiac physical examination will be performed. In the majority of cases an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) will also be completed. Your pet’s medical record and past diagnostics will be reviewed, and recommendations about further testing or treatment will be made. Results and recommendations of the consultation will be given to your primary care veterinarian. In some cases, your veterinarian may schedule an in-person consultation with Dr. Jackson as well. Illness other than cardiac disease will not be treated by JVCC.
Will my pet be sedated?
In the majority of cases, sedation is not needed. If your veterinarian suspects that your pet would benefit from sedation for the examination, then they will discuss this with you first.
Will my pet's fur be shaved?
Sometimes. JVCC tries not to shave unless necessary. In some cases shaving is necessary to obtain diagnostic quality images.
What should I bring to the appointment?
Bring your pet, a list of your pets medications (including tablet size and how often you give the medication), and a completed cardiology history questionnaire to each appointment.
Should I give my pet their medications the morning of the appointment?
Yes. Many cardiac medications only last in the body for 8-12 hours. In order to determine if your pet is responding correctly to medications, they should be given on their regular schedule.
Where are you located?
JVCC is a consultation service and does not have a hospital location. We bring specialty cardiology services to primary care veterinarians. If you are concerned about heart disease in your pet, contact your regular veterinarian about scheduling an appointment with JVCC.
What does a consultation with JVCC cost?
Consultation costs vary depending on the tests needed and what diagnostics have already been performed. Please contact your regular veterinarian for an estimate of costs.
How do I count my pet's respiratory rate?
Counting your pet's respiratory rate is a good at home monitoring tool for patients that have been diagnosed with advanced heart disease. You should count the rate when your pet is resting or sleeping, not after play or exercise. Each up and down movement of the chest is one breath. You should count the number of breaths in 15 seconds, and then multiply that number by four to get the breaths your pet is taking in one minute. If the breaths per minute is consistently greater than 36-40, then you should contact your veterinarian to bring your pet in for an evaluation. If the breaths per minute is greater than 60 or you notice your pet breathing with their mouth open, you shoud consider having your pet evaluated on an emergency basis.