Open Mon-Fri: 8:00AM to 5:00PM, Sat: 8:00AM to 1:00PM

Open Mon-Fri: 8:00AM to 5:00PM, Sat: 8:00AM to 1:00PM


What is a veterinary cardiologist?

A veterinary cardiologist is a veterinarian who has undergone extensive, specialized training in animal heart and vascular system disorders. Dr. Durtschi has undergone years of training and rigorous testing through the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine to become a Board-Certified Cardiologist™. Veterinary cardiologists diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions, providing comprehensive care tailored to each pet's individual needs. Our promise to you is to provide your pet with the highest quality cardiac care through our dedication to compassion and communication. By choosing a Board-Certified Cardiologist™, you can have confidence that your pet will receive the highest standard of veterinary care available. Dr. Durtschi's extensive qualifications and expertise in the field of veterinary cardiology ensure that your pet's cardiac needs are met with precision and compassion.

What are the signs of heart disease in animals?

Heart disease can manifest in various ways. Common signs include lethargy, coughing, rapid or labored breathing, reduced appetite, weight loss or gain, weakness, or even collapse. Changes in behavior or decreased activity levels may also indicate heart problems. However, early heart disease can be silent, making regular check-ups crucial.

What is a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat. It often resembles a whooshing or swishing noise caused by turbulent blood flow in or around your pet's heart. While some murmurs are harmless, others may signify heart disease.

What is an arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. It means the heart may beat too slowly, too rapidly, or irregularly. Arrhythmias can result from various conditions and may or may not have profound implications for your pet's health.

What can I expect from a cardiac evaluation?

During a cardiac evaluation, our team will thoroughly examine your pet and review their medical history. This may include diagnostic tests like an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), an electrocardiogram (EKG), or blood tests. Rest assured, we aim to make the process as stress-free as possible for your pet.

Will my pet have to be sedated?

Because an echocardiogram is a gentle, non-invasive procedure, sedation is usually not required. Some cats may benefit from gabapentin prior to the procedure for anxiety. If a centesis procedure is needed or sedation is required, your veterinarian will contact you for permission prior to any additional treatments.

How do I monitor my pet with heart disease at home?

At-home monitoring can play a key role in managing your pet's heart disease. We will provide tailored guidance, which may involve observing your pet's appetite, activity level, breathing rate, and overall behavior. Any significant changes should be reported to us.

How do I schedule a consultation with the cardiologist?

Please contact your veterinarian to arrange for mobile cardiology service. They will coordinate their team and ours to bring us in and get answers.

What Happens During a Cardiology Consultation?

In the comfort of your family veterinarian's office and with the cooperation of your trusted veterinarian, Dr. Durtschi will perform a complete cardiac examination of your pet. She will perform an echocardiogram, which will allow a detailed evaluation of the anatomy and function of your pet's heart. This is a non-painful, non-invasive ultrasound of the heart. Your pet will lay on a specialized table that will allow the best positioning of your pet. A small patch of fur may need to be shaved if your pet has a thick undercoat. A small amount of alcohol and gel will provide optimal imaging. Systemic blood pressure and diagnostic ECG (6 lead digital) may also be obtained with each consultation. Appropriate diagnostics or therapy can then be advised for your pet based on specific needs or concerns.

Do I need to be present for the consultation?

You are always welcome to be present during the exam, depending on your veterinarian's available space. Be aware that some clinic visits may be longer or shorter than expected, so the precise arrival time will be difficult to predict. It may be more convenient to schedule a 'drop-off' appointment with your veterinarian for the day. If you do not have the opportunity to meet with us personally, our promise is to treat each pet as our own. You can have confidence that all of the diagnostic tests and recommendations, as well as therapeutic and monitoring plans, have been discussed thoroughly with your family veterinarian. At the conclusion of the consultation, your veterinarian will possess all the needed diagnostic results and treatment recommendations to discuss our findings and treatment options.

How much will it cost?

Your trusted veterinary office can provide an appropriate estimate based on the necessary diagnostics, travel distance, and appointment type. Please contact your trusted veterinary office for more details and their expected diagnostic plan. Additional diagnostics, such as radiographs or laboratory studies, may be recommended prior to or following the cardiac assessment, and this can also lead to variations in cost estimates.

Heart Murmurs in Pets: What You Need to Know

A heart murmur is an abnormal heart sound that is heard when listening to the heart with a stethoscope. It is caused by abnormal turbulent blood flow. Abnormal turbulent blood flow can occur when blood passes across abnormal heart valves or across abnormal structures within the heart. It can also occur when blood flows very fast across normal structures (such as when an animal is excited). Your veterinarian will grade the heart murmur out of 6, with 6/6 being the loudest murmur. In some instances, the louder the murmur, the more significant the abnormality within the heart. The loudness of a heart murmur does not correlate to the severity of heart disease. It is only an alarm bell that something has changed within the heart. An echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) is a non-invasive test that is performed to determine the cause of the murmur.

Understanding Congestive Heart Failure in Pets

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a serious condition in which the heart's ability to pump blood efficiently is compromised. It can affect both humans and animals, including dogs and cats. When it comes to managing CHF in pets, the role of a veterinary cardiologist is crucial for several reasons:
  • Accurate Diagnosis
  • Tailored Treatment Plans
  • Monitoring and Adjusting Treatment
  • Expertise in Cardiovascular Medications
  • Palliative Care and Quality of Life
  • Referral to Surgery
Accurate Diagnosis CHF can have various underlying causes, and it is essential to determine the specific cause and the severity of the condition in order to provide appropriate treatment. A veterinary cardiologist has specialized training and experience in diagnosing cardiac diseases in animals. They use advanced diagnostic tools, such as echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart), electrocardiography (ECG or EKG), and radiography, to accurately assess the heart's structure and function. Tailored Treatment Plans: Each case of CHF is unique, and the treatment approach must be tailored to the individual animal's needs. A veterinary cardiologist can develop a personalized treatment plan that may involve medications, dietary adjustments, lifestyle changes, and other interventions based on the specific diagnosis and the pet's overall health. Monitoring and Adjusting Treatment CHF management often requires ongoing monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the treatment and make necessary adjustments. Regular follow-ups with a veterinary cardiologist allow for careful evaluation of the pet's response to medications and any changes in their condition. Expertise in Advanced Cardiac Medications Veterinary cardiologists are well-versed in the use of cardiovascular medications, which can be complex and may require precise dosing. They are familiar with the latest advancements and research in cardiac pharmacology, ensuring that pets receive the most up-to-date and effective treatments. Palliative Care for Quality of Life For pets with advanced or terminal cardiac disease, a veterinary cardiologist can guide owners in providing palliative care to improve the pet's quality of life. This may involve pain management, symptom relief, and emotional support for both the pet and the owner. Referral for Surgery If surgery is deemed necessary for certain cardiac conditions, a veterinary cardiologist can refer the pet to a board-certified veterinary surgeon with expertise in cardiac procedures. We work with regional and international cardiac surgical centers to prepare your pet for advanced surgery if needed. Some commonly referred procedures include stent and balloon procedures for blood flow obstructions, valve clamp for mitral valve disease, or open heart valve repair. Overall, the involvement of a veterinary cardiologist in managing congestive heart failure is instrumental in optimizing the pet's health, improving their quality of life, and providing expert guidance to the pet owners throughout the treatment process. If you suspect your pet may have cardiac issues or CHF, it's essential to consult with a qualified veterinarian who can make the appropriate referral to a veterinary cardiologist if needed.

My vet wants to take X-rays before the cardiologist appointment. Why?

Radiology plays a crucial role in the diagnostic process, providing valuable information about the heart, lungs, and chest cavity in animals. They help us make informed decisions regarding the management and treatment of various respiratory and cardiac conditions. Your primary care veterinarian will often obtain these images prior to Dr. Durtschi's visit to add more diagnostic information. Radiographs, commonly known as X-rays, are routinely used in veterinary hospitals to obtain valuable diagnostic information about the heart, lungs, and chest cavity in dogs and cats. Listed below are some of the key purposes for obtaining radiographs in veterinary medicine:
  1. Heart evaluation
  2. Lung evaluation
  3. Fluid evaluation
  4. Evaluation of blood vessels
  5. Heart Evaluation
Heart Evaluation Radiographs can provide an impression of the size, shape, and position of the heart. Enlargement or abnormalities in the heart size or shape may indicate heart disease. Radiographs can also help assess the position of the heart within the chest and identify potential complications. Lung Evaluation X-rays are valuable in evaluating the lungs for diseases of the airways, lung tissue, or blood vessels. They can help detect conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), lung tumors, or signs of metastasis from cancer in other areas of the body. Fluid Evaluation Radiographs can help identify the presence of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or fluid within the chest cavity (pleural effusion). This fluid accumulation can be caused by various conditions, including congestive heart failure, trauma, or infection. Radiographs can assist in determining the extent and location of the fluid. Evaluation Of Blood Vessels Radiographs can reveal information about the blood vessels within the chest, including the pulmonary arteries and veins. They can aid in diagnosing conditions such as pulmonary thromboembolism or vascular anomalies. Radiographs are usually obtained with the animal positioned appropriately on an X-ray table, and the X-ray machine is directed toward the chest area. Although typically unnecessary, sedation or anesthesia may be used to ensure the animal remains still during the procedure, allowing for high-quality diagnostic images.

Do You Make House Calls?

House call services are only provided through Advanced Veterinary Mobile. If you are interested in becoming a client, you can contact them at (949) 757-1440

What is Fear Free?

Fear Free Certification is a program designed to minimize fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) in animals throughout the veterinary experience. Dr. Durtschi uses gentle handling techniques, calming environments, and positive reinforcement to create a more comfortable and less stressful atmosphere for pets. The certification process encompasses extensive training and education. Fear Free methods benefit pet owners by making vet visits easier, improving the overall wellbeing of their animals, and fostering a stronger bond between pet and veterinarian. Learn more about Fear Free Certifications here.

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