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We are happy to see any cases where a heart condition is suspected by your vet (e.g. a heart murmur or abnormal rhythm) as well as for heart screening prior to breeding. Unfortunately under RCVS rules we cannot provide advice over the phone without having seen your pet, so you will need to be referred by your own veterinary surgeon. We can come to your local practice to examine your pet, so you don't have to travel to a referral centre.

Typically, you will have a consultation with us and then a full heart scan will be performed. Your pet may also need to have blood samples, blood pressure measurement, an ECG or x-rays as part of their work-up. Usually you will pick your pet up later in the day and we will go through your pet's long term needs and any follow-up required. Usually your pet will not need to be sedated unless it is having chest x-rays.

Once your pet has seen us, ongoing care and treatment will be managed by your own vet, but we will always be available to discuss any ongoing problems, changes to medications and to perform repeat heart scans and investigations as required.

 

Why is my pet being referred?

Your pet will be referred to us if your vet suspects that it has heart disease. Pets with heart disease may have a heart murmur, be coughing, have difficulty breathing or may have fainting episodes, among other signs. Making a definitive diagnosis of heart disease in our pets can be challenging, and needs specialist equipment such as advanced ultrasound and ECG, which might not be available in your vet’s practice.

Why does my pet need to see a specialist?

In the same way as you might be sent to see a consultant by your GP, sometimes vets need a specialist to help them make a diagnosis of heart disease in the animals they treat. Specialists have extra knowledge in their area of interest.

What is a specialist?

A specialist is a vet that has undergone extensive training after they have qualified, to give them extra knowledge in a particular subject area. In the UK, specialists must have been awarded a Diploma by either the European or American colleges , and/or be an RCVS Recognised Specialist.

RCVS

Breed screening

Many breeds of cats and dogs have increased risk of developing heart disease. In some cases these are congenital conditions, while other acquired conditions develop later in life. Congenital conditions are those that the animal is BORN with and are usually detected early in life. Acquired conditions are not present from birth, but are likely to be caused by an inherited genetic defect, for example dilated cardiomyopathy or mitral valve disease in dogs and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats.

In some breeds, testing prior to breeding is recommended by the breed council to try and reduce the incidence of a specific disease in that breed. The Boxer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newfoundland, Dobermann and Irish Wolfhound clubs, among others, have heart testing schemes in place. Some cat breeds such as Bengals, Sphynx cats and Maine Coons also have breed testing programmes.

Hannah is one of the cardiologists approved by the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society to perform heart testing. More information about heart testing can be found on their website 

Hannah has been involved in research into dilated cardiomyopathy in Great Danes for the last 5 years and has a special interest in this breed. Please get in touch (greatdane@hscardiology.co.uk) if you would like to know more about DCM in Danes and Hannah's research. Information can also be found through the breed council website
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