Cardiology Pet Care
While your family veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat a range of problems very well, some conditions need specialized diagnostics and care so your pet will have the best chance for a positive outcome.
This includes disorders such as dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, systemic hypertension, degenerative valve disease, cardiac tumors, arrhythmias, and congenital heart disease.
VRCC offers cardiology services at our hospital in the Denver Metro area, while our esteemed partner Rocky Mountain Veterinary Cardiology, P.C. offers appointments in Longmont. We also have a satellite office in Colorado Springs. Appointments can be booked through us.
We offer a combination of services, from non-invasive testing to services including cardiac catheterization, pacemaker implantation, and more to clients throughout Englewood and the Denver Metro area.
Board-Certified Veterinary Cardiologists
A veterinary cardiologist is a specialist with advanced training in the heart and circulatory system. To become a board-certified veterinary cardiologist a veterinarian completes a one-year internship followed by extensive specialized training in an approved residency training program (usually 3-5 years).
What to Expect at Your Pet’s Appointment
Understanding what you can expect at your cardiology appointment will help make the experience more pleasant and less stressful for you and your pet.
- Medical Records
On your first visit, it is important to bring all relevant medical materials for review. Your regular veterinarian will provide you with a copy of your pet’s records. They will also give you your pet’s X-rays and other materials for us to look at. All of these materials will be returned to your regular veterinarian.
- Registration Form & Medical History
When you make your appointment or when you arrive for your first visit, you will be asked to fill out a Patient Intake form. If you are unable to complete this form please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time to allow time to complete the form. During the first visit, a detailed medical history will be obtained by asking you questions.
- Physical Exam & Diagnostic Testing
A thorough physical examination will be performed, and previous records reviewed.
Any additional diagnostic testing that may be required will be discussed with you, and is typically performed during the same visit.
An echocardiogram is usually performed. At the conclusion of your visit, we will have a thorough discussion of your pet’s diagnosis. You will be told what the problem is, the severity of the condition, what typically happens for each scenario, and an appropriate treatment plan.
- Diagnosis & Report
Questions will be answered, and appropriate recheck examinations arranged. Handouts about specific diagnoses are also given for you to review at home. An initial office call lasts about an hour, and rechecks take about 30 minutes.
A detailed report will be sent to your regular veterinarian, so that they have a complete record of our visit, and may remain involved in the care of your pet. Costs of diagnostics are discussed with you before performing them.
Here are some commonly asked questions we've received from clients about appointments at VRCC Cardiology:
- How are cardiology appointments booked?
We offer cardiology appointments at our main location at VRCC in Englewood and we also see patients periodically at our satellite location in Colorado Springs.
Appointments for either location can be made through the reception staff at VRCC by calling (303) 874-2094 during our office hours. Appointments are scheduled from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
- What is the address and contact info for the appointment locations?
Cardiology appointments can be booked at one of the following locations. Please call the number provided to book an appointment at that location.VRCC Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital
3550 S Jason St., Englewood, CO
call: (303) 874-2094
Veterinary Specialists of Southern Colorado
5520 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, CO
call: (303) 874-2094
Rocky Mountain Veterinary Cardiology
104 S. Main St., Longmont, CO
call: (303) 927-6928
- What if my pet requires overnight care? VRCC provides 24-hour care for our hospitalized patients. There is always a veterinarian and technician on the premises to monitor our patients. Visits are encouraged and can be arranged for you by a Cardiology staff member.
- How do I pick up my pet's prescription?
Refills can be obtained from VRCC Cardiology, your regular veterinarian, or a human pharmacy. To avoid interruptions in your pet’s treatment, please do not wait until the last minute before obtaining refills. Please allow 24 hours for prescriptions to be refilled.
Prescriptions filled by VRCC Cardiology can be picked up at the reception desk from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Prescriptions cannot be filled on weekends or holidays.
By law, prescriptions can only be made for one year. After a year another appointment must be made to refill your pet's medications.
- When should I book my checkup/recheck appointment?
The cardiologist will suggest when to schedule your pet for a recheck exam. You are welcome to schedule an appointment sooner if concerns arise.
Diagnostics & Tools
At your appointment, the cardiologist will perform a complete and thorough physical examination of your pet, and based on these initial findings, additional tests will be discussed.
They will also review your animal’s health history and current medications. Depending on your pet's condition, diagnostic testing may include:
Echocardiography is the study of the heart using ultrasound technology. It is a non-invasive test that allows for a real-time evaluation of cardiac structure and function. The patient is placed on a specially designed table that allows the heart to be imaged from below.
- Electrocardiography An ECG allows your vet to determine your pet's heart rate. This can show whether their heart is beating normally, too quickly, or slowly. An elevated or decreased heart rate can indicate specific medical issues that should be investigated.
- Radiographic Evaluation A critical component of evaluative, effective radiography is radiographic evaluation. It is the process of evaluating a radiographic image to ensure that it meets a high diagnostic standard.
- Blood Pressure Measurement Blood pressure in most dogs and cats should be between 110/60 and 160/90. When measuring blood pressure in a pet, it is critical to collect the data when the pet is under the least amount of stress. This will give you the most precise reading.
- Digital Radiography Digital Radiography is essentially filmless X-ray image capture. Digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. Advantages of digital radiology include increased time efficiency through eliminating chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer, immediately preview the image.
- Doppler Blood Pressure A blood pressure that is either too high or too low can be problematic. Blood pressure measurements are performed similarly to human medicine, with a Doppler crystal placed over an artery in a leg and a cuff inflated above the artery.
- Fluoroscopy Fluoroscopy allows for real-time radiographic images of the body. Usually, we use fluoroscopy for therapeutic procedures for the heart. These include pacemaker implantation, device closure of a congenital heart defect, and balloon dilation of a malformed valve.
- Holter Monitoring A 24-72 hour ECG monitor, worn at home, is placed by shaving hair on both sides of the dog's chest. Sticky patches hold the electrodes in place. The owner is given a diary to record the activities of the day so that heart rate fluctuations noted in the monitor can be correlated to activity level. This helps us diagnose arrhythmias.
- Event Monitoring Event monitors are similar to Holter monitors but are worn for a longer period. An event button on the device records the ECG before, during, and after an event. That ECG can be evaluated to determine if the event is caused by an arrhythmia.
- Telemetry - Wireless ECG Telemetry allows us to continuously monitor a patient’s ECG while they are still inside their cage. The electrodes feed into a device that sends the ECG to a screen in our CCU unit as well as our cardiology room.
The cardiologists at VRCC complete a full physical exam of your pet. Based on their findings, some of the following services may be offered:
A balloon valvuloplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat dogs with moderate to severe pulmonic stenosis.
Pacemaker implantation is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat pets with severe bradyarrhythmias. The pacemaker will be programmed intraoperatively to control your pet's heart rate.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) Occlusion
Your pet has a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Overcirculation causes left heart dilation. Due to increased pressure in the left heart and pulmonary veins, fluid is expelled. This procedure may save your pet's life.
Snyder Oxygen Cages
The oxygen-enriched patient compartment can be controlled precisely, and humidity can be increased or decreased. Air temperature can also be closely monitored and adjusted.
Ports allow IV lines and probes for other monitoring devices to be inserted, and portholes in the doors allow the practitioner to reach in without having to open the main doors.