At Sunstone Veterinary Specialists, we strive to provide exceptional care and attention for your animal companion. Our knowledgeable veterinary cardiologist, Dr. Rausch, is a board-certified cardiologist and experienced in managing a wide range of heart conditions with compassion and personalized care. His first goal is to determine if your dog or cat has heart disease. If so, he and his team provide comprehensive care for a wide range of heart conditions. His goal is to help pets with heart disease maintain a high quality of life.
During your initial examination and follow-up appointments, many steps are taken to effectively evaluate and treat your pet. Visits typically consist of the following:
- Medical history review
- Physical examination
- Diagnostic test and procedures, such as echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, x-ray, or bloodwork
- Consultation with Dr. Rausch to discuss his findings and recommendations
Initial examination typically lasts for one to two hours. Follow-up visits are typically 30 minutes to one hour. You are welcome to wait at the hospital or complete errands outside the hospital, as needed. We will make sure your pet is safe and comfortable.
At Sunstone Veterinary Specialists, we are committed to client education. During each visit, Dr. Rausch and his team will discuss their findings, provide recommendations, and answer any questions you may have during his consultation. He will also write a detailed report of his findings, which he shares with your primary care veterinarian.
Medical History Review
Prior to your pet’s first consultation, our veterinary cardiologist reviews your pet’s medical history, including wellness visits, medications, and test results. A thorough medical history review is important for managing your pet’s health, as it helps us diagnose your pet accurately and treat him or her effectively.
Examining your pet and listening closely to the heart and lungs helps Dr. Rausch and his team formulate a unique diagnostic and treatment plan for your pet. For this reason, Dr. Rausch always performs an echocardiogram and physical examination of his patients prior to meeting with a patient’s family to consult with them about their pet’s heart disease.
After his examination and echocardiogram are complete, Dr. Rausch meets with you to discuss his findings. During his consultations with clients, Dr. Rausch shares his in-depth knowledge, encourages questions, and discusses options for further evaluating and treating patient’s heart disease. He also puts these findings into a detailed written report that will be sent to you and your veterinarian.
Also known as ultrasound of the heart, echocardiograms are a quick and non-invasive method of looking at your pet’s heart. This procedure creates high-resolution images of your pet’s heart, allowing our veterinary cardiologist to gain a better understanding of the heart and its function.
These images are important for accurately diagnosing your pet’s heart conditions. Because of their importance, Dr. Rausch and his cardiology team always perform an echocardiogram during the initial examination.
Another important form of diagnostic imaging is x-ray, which help our veterinary cardiology team better understand your pet’s heart status. Like echocardiograms, x-ray creates high-definition pictures of your pet’s heart. While echocardiograms provide in-depth detailed views of the heart, x-ray provides an overall picture, such as the size or shape of the heart in relation to other organs. Because of these differences, we often recommend x-ray imaging in addition to an echocardiogram, allowing us to gain the maximum amount of information in a quick, efficient manner.
Often called ECG or EKG, electrocardiogram evaluates the electrical function of your pet’s heart, including heart beat rhythm and heart rate. Electrocardiograms can provide insight into whether your pet is experiencing an abnormally fast or slow heart rate, as well as whether your pet’s heart beat rhythm is irregular. This information provides additional information about your pet’s heart condition, as well as possible complications secondary to another condition.
Blood Tests and Urinalysis
Blood and urine tests are common tests that are often recommended when a pet is ill. These tests provide our cardiology team with a better understanding of your pet’s organ function, as well as overall health. These samples are quick and easy to collect. Depending on your pet’s initial examination and other testing, Dr. Rausch may recommend a basic blood or urine panel to better understand your pet’s general health in relation to his or her heart condition.
Quick and minimally invasive, blood pressure is a procedure that allows us to determine the pressure inside your pet’s arteries when his or her heart beats. These numbers provide us with important information about your pet’s current health and may predict future problems.
A Holter monitor is a noninvasive method of assessing the heart’s rhythm and rate. It is a 24-hour electrocardiogram, or ECG, that is recorded while the animal is wearing a recorder at home. This device helps us conduct an analysis of the rhythm and rate of the heart throughout a normal day and night in your dog’s life, with activities documented in a diary by the owner. This analysis can be helpful in determining if there are intermittent abnormalities in the rhythm of the heart or if anti-arrhythmic medications are working adequately.
Atropine Response Test
This diagnostic test is most often performed in a patient with an abnormally low heart rate. During this test, our cardiology team gives your pet a medicine called atropine. We measure your pet’s reaction to the drug using an ECG, which is checked before the medication and 30 minutes afterward. The results of this test help Dr. Rausch determine why the heart rate is abnormally low and help guide the best treatment if necessary.
Our cardiology team is committed to providing the very best care for your pet. Contact us today to learn more about our veterinary cardiology services or to schedule an appointment.