Veterinary Cardiology

Veterinary cardiology

Conditions of the heart, lungs, and chest are among the most serious conditions in pets. Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center professionals are skilled and experienced in cardio-respiratory medicine, regularly diagnosing and treating such conditions.

Treating Heart & Lung Conditions and Diseases

Often a cough is the only indicator of a heart or lung problem. As a non-specific symptom, cough can be the result of heart, lung, or upper airway disease. The complex anatomy and critical nature of those structures combine to make diseases of these systems significant to health and survival.

When we suspect heart and lung problems, complete diagnostic testing is essential. This testing includes lab work on blood and urine, as well as diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, ultrasonography and computed tomography (CT). Endoscopy may also be used to explore the lungs and biopsy tissue.


An echocardiogram is a specialized kind of ultrasound used to view the heart. The transducer is placed in position at an angle designed to bounce sound waves off the walls and valves of the heart in order examine heart chamber size, wall motion, valve movements, and structural changes in and around the heart, as well as the aorta, carotid (neck) arteries, and renal (kidney) arteries.

Doppler echocardiography, a particular kind of echocardiography, uses the ultrasound to determine the direction and velocity of blood flow within the cardiovascular system. These procedures are designed to investigate cardiac and blood vessel problems like heart murmurs or congestive heart failure.


Holter Monitoring at OPVMC

Holter monitoring is a noninvasive method of assessing the heart's rhythm and rate in people and in animals. It is a 24-hour ECG (electrocardiogram) that is recorded while the patient wears the recorder, in the comfort of your home while doing the things that they as pets normally do. This allows an analysis of the rhythm and rate of the heart throughout the entire time the pet is wearing the monitor (including exercise, sleep and everything in between). One of our general practitioners or internal medicine specialists may recommend this diagnostic procedure for any of the following reasons:

  • a cardiac arrhythmia is detected in your cat or dog
  • your pet exhibits any of the following signs: dizziness, lethargy, weakness, collapse, fainting episodes, exercise intolerance, or excessive panting and agitation
  • to monitor the positive effects of drug therapy on the heart rate and rhythm

For application, a small amount of fur on the left side of the chest and cleansing the skin, and then a small Holter Monitor is attached to the skin via three adhesive electrode patches (see photo). Our Holter monitor is is wireless (Bluetooth), small, light and fits in the palm of your hand. The unit itself snaps on to the electrode patches. The pet either wears a vest to protect it or light bandage material is applied to cover it.

The Holter monitor is placed and 24 hours later you return to our hospital to have it removed as well as have the data uploaded to a veterinary cardiologist for interpretation and therapy recommendations. In addition to the fees for application of the monitor and cardiologist review there is a refundable security deposit that is refunded to you as long as you return with the monitor in one piece (ie you didn't lose it nor did your dog eat it).

Cardio-Respiratory Medicine Services

You can expect the highest standard of care when your pet is being diagnosed or treated for heart and lung disease. Services you may expect for your pet include the following:

  • Detailed history
  • Physical examination
  • Auscultation (in-depth assessment of sounds in the heart and lungs)
  • Laboratory examination
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Overall treatment plan
  • Client education
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Nebulization
  • Cardiac telemetry
  • Monitoring and follow up

To discuss concerns about your pet’s heart or lungs, contact us today.