Cardiology

PVSEC's cardiology department provides specialty care, diagnostics, and management of all cardiac diseases in dogs and cats. In addition, the cardiology department works side by side with all the other specialty departments in helping to manage any cardiac complications that may arise as a result of non-cardiac diseases.

We strongly encourage that all clinical information, such as recent radiographs, blood work, and recent medical history - including current medications and doses - be provided at or prior to the time of the appointment to expedite the diagnostic process. When complete referral information is provided, echocardiograms may be performed by the cardiologist during the appointment to allow clients to wait for completion of diagnostics. Because echocardiography is a dynamic study and image quality is operator dependent, the cardiology service is not able to interpret studies performed by other clinicians. With the exception of echocardiography, diagnostic tests are not repeated unless the patient's condition has recently changed or repeat tests are otherwise necessary to provide the best medical care possible.
With the June 2014 addition to the second floor of PVSEC's hospital, the cardiology department now has more space dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac conditions in dogs and cats.

Appointments

The cardiology department sees patients by referral only from primary care veterinarians, our emergency service, and the other specialty services at PVSEC.

The department is open Monday - Saturday from 8:30AM - 5:30PM and on Saturday from 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM.  A limited number of drop-off appointment slots are also offered for evaluation of previous patients. Initial appointments will generally take 45-60 minutes. Most non-invasive diagnostic tests can be completed during that time. Additional testing or invasive procedures will require that patients stay for the day or, in some cases, be hospitalized overnight or dropped off on a subsequent day.

Fasting is NOT required for routine cardiology appointments and sedation IS NOT routinely necessary for cardiac testing. WATER should be provided AT ALL TIMES.
 

Cardiology department forms

Client information sheet        PDF     Word
Registration sheet                 PDF     Word
New Patient History sheet      PDF     Word
 

OFA Examination Information

OFA Exams are cardiac screenings for purebred dogs to identify hereditary cardiac diseases through the presence of a heart murmur (i.e. subaortic stenosis, pulmonic stenosis, valvular dysplasia, patent ductus arteriosus, etc). OFA Exams do not require a referral, and are appropriate for show or field trial dogs, or in preparation for breeding. We discourage OFA exams in female dogs that are in heat, pregnant, or nursing, since transient murmurs can develop during this time. Appointments are available as part of periodic Saturday OFA Clinics, offered twice a year from 8:00AM - 11:30AM, which are ideal for dogs and litters in a breeding program.

We recommend you fill out all appropriate forms prior to the breed screening appointment to expedite evaluations. Due to the large number of dogs evaluated during OFA clinics, echocardiograms will not be performed during these clinics and will require a regular, scheduled appointment. Weekday OFA Exams are also available in limited quantities for an additional fee.
The next Saturday OFA Cardiac Exam Clinic is March 21, 2015.

After Hours Emergencies

After hours and weekend emergencies will be handled by PVSEC's emergency service (412-366-3400), which is located in the same building. The emergency department is open 24-hours, 7-days a week, including all holidays. If the emergency doctor feels the cardiac condition(s) merits the attention of a specialist, they will attempt to contact the PVSEC cardiologist on-call.

Updates

A doctor will call with a medical update once, at the end of each day, unless arranged otherwise. Calls may be made as late as 8:00 or 9:00 PM to allow our doctors to place priority on patient care. We realize it is difficult to wait for information regarding your pet, rest assured that we will call immediately in the event of an emergency or change in medical status requiring significant decisions. A technician is available to provide inpatient updates to owners calling between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM. Communication is greatly expedited and simplified by the designation of one family member as a contact person. Owners are asked to leave all appropriate phone numbers with the receptionists.

Follow-up

Due to the complexity of cardiac cases and potential progression of disease, re-evaluation will be an important part of your pet's ongoing care. Many initial follow-ups will be done directly with the cardiologist. When possible, patients are returned to their primary care veterinarian for long-term follow-up care. Referring veterinarians are welcome to consult with the cardiology department regarding follow-up care; however, concerns regarding prompt care and patient safety dictate that we cannot provide owners or referring veterinarians with treatment recommendations for patients that are not directly under our care or patients that have not been seen in over 6 months. If your veterinarian is not comfortable managing your pet's follow-up care this should be performed through PVSEC Cardiology. A small consultation fee will be charged for review of rDVM diagnostic testing such as ECGs and/or radiographs.

FeesShow

Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center is a unique veterinary hospital. There are fewer than 30 hospitals like us in the country. Because we are open 24 hours a day and provide specialized services in addition to emergency services, our fees for the care given and procedures performed may be higher than a normal veterinary visit.

We understand.

And that's why we make sure you are given an estimate during your initial visit. When you are dealing with a sick pet, the last thing you need is a surprise on your vet bill.

A deposit equal to the low end of the estimate is required for pets needing hospitalization. As we gather diagnostic information and assess response to treatment, we may find that your pet requires additional hospitalization and care. Our policy is to call the owners of all hospitalized patients once a day to inform them of the current charges. Estimates are updated when the charges start to exceed the high end of the initial estimate. We encourage you to ask questions so that you feel comfortable.

Pet owners may ask us for estimates to treat and diagnose their pet over the phone. Please understand that we are unable to give you an accurate estimate without first examining your pet at our facility. We feel that one of the most valuable services we can offer to you is the initial consultation with one of our veterinarians. The doctor will review the history with you, look over any prior medical records including laboratory work and radiographs, perform a complete physical examination and sometimes even consult with other specialists in the hospital. During the consultation we also want to determine your wishes and goals. We believe that this process is the best way to give you the most accurate information about your pets medical condition, the prognosis, options for care, and the costs associated with treatment.

Complete payment is due when your pet is discharged. We accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express and personal checks.  We also offer a Payment Management service through Payment Banc for qualified accounts.  You can find more information regarding Payment Banc by clicking HERE or calling the office to speak with a Customer Service Representative.  
If none of those methods are preferable, we offer third party financing through Care Credit. With Care Credit PVSEC offers 6 months deferred interest on charges over $200 or 24 months fixed rate interest on charges over $1000.
If you are interested in this option please visit the Care Credit Website to fill out an application. Type in our hospital name (Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center) and our phone number (412-366-3400) when it asks for your doctor's information. We accept two different plans from Care Credit so that you can make the best decision for your current financial position.