Advanced Care


Our hospital offers a variety of Cardiology Services. Did you know, that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), one out of every 10 dogs and cats has heart disease? And, many pets with heart disease are asymptomatic.

Cardiology is the branch of veterinary medicine that treats diseases of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart and blood vessels. This encompasses such problems as congestive heart failure, hypertension, dilated and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmias and valvular disorders. Because the function of the heart and lungs are interrelated, our veterinarians are also knowledgeable about lung disease as well as disorders of the chest cavity.

Many of the same types of diagnostic tools and treatment options that are used to help keep human heart patients alive and healthy are also available to pets. For example, sophisticated diagnostic options such as an echocardiogram or EKG can help determine whether heart problems are present and, if so, assess their severity. In addition, many of the medications used in pets are similar to those that are also used in humans.

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound (sonogram) exam of the heart. Many times both radiographs (X-rays) and ultrasound of the heart are recommended for best evaluation of heart disease. X-rays show the size, shape and position of the heart and the ultrasound allows the veterinarian to see the internal structure and function of the heart. Echocardiography is very non-invasive and well-tolerated by most pets. Most pets do not require sedation or anesthesia but this depends on their temperament. The hair on the chest wall behind their elbow area may be clipped to allow adequate visualization of the heart during the ultrasound. Gel is then placed on the skin in this area and the ultrasound probe to record images of the heart. Ultrasound produces a cross-sectional two-dimensional view of the heart by bouncing high frequency sound wave off the heart. The sound that is reflected back to the probe is used to compose an image. Because sound is used this exam is very safe to the patient. The power of echocardiography is the ability to look inside the heart at various structures. Wall thickness can be measured, valves can examined and the flow of blood can be evaluated. These, and other parameters, allow the veterinarian to diagnose and provide appropriate treatment recommendations for diseases of the heart.

If our veterinarians feel your pet has a more advanced condition or needs further diagnostic assessment (such as an echocardiogram), they may recommend a referral to a board certified veterinary cardiologist, such as Dr. Moses (who works at both VCA South Shore in Weymouth and VCA Roberts in Hanover) or Dr. Morrison (who works at VCA South Shore).


Symptoms of Canine or Feline Heart Problems:

  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Shortness of breath or apparent difficulty in breathing (due to fluid in the lungs or chest cavity)
  • Fast breathing at rest (although don't confuse this with normal panting)
  • Collapse
  • Fainting spells
  • Cough
  • Elevated heart rate