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Canine Cardiologist? Price Points?

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  • Canine Cardiologist? Price Points?

    For a basic appointment and ultrasound? Has anyone ever taken their dog to a cardiologist?
    My lovely little(or not-so-little, 53lbs) girl has had a heart murmur since she was a puppy, she has had at least 6-8 vet visits since that time, but the vet has only mentioned it maybe 2 times, since it is very hard to hear at the vet's office w/ her heart beating SO fast from vet related nerves. However, I can even feel it at home just by putting my hand on her belly, so its no insignificant thing.
    When they initially found it they recommended a cardiologist(did not recommend a specific doctor). I could not afford it at the time. I still cannot afford it, but now that she's getting a bit older(4), I feel like its something I should look into sooner rather than later.
    My aunt, who is a vet, says it is most likely they will have a look via ultrasound and recommend a medication, rather than try to correct it surgically(even if it is something that earlier could have been) at her age. I just worry that her heart will be beating so fast they will not be able to get a good look.
    I also really need to know a ballpark price before I make an appointment, if its under a couple hundred, that's fine, but over that I will need to save some money first and I need to know that. I was hoping you all could help w/ that? Maybe? Does anyone have any experience?
    I posted on a dog forum the other day, but no replies so far. =/
    Thanks so much in advance!
    Last edited by supaflyskye; Jul. 10, 2015, 11:10 AM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    Yes, but it was years ago....I can't really remember.

    But, there is a dog show coming up with a cardiology clinic, so these would be discounted prices compared to office visits (not sure by how much). Auscultation - $35.00. Doppler - $195.00.

    So I think it will depend on what the dr. wants to do, but I guess I'd plan on around $300 for a full evaluation.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks so much! My aunt is a vet and told me she vaguely thought Colorado University charged around $300-something for a workup, but she said she wasn't really sure, so I thought I'd ask. Thanks again. =)

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm in New England. From having referred clients, cardiologist exam and echocardiogram has run around $500

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          ^ oh wow. I'm in Florida so hopefully it will be not quite so expensive? Things are pretty expensive down here too ...but we have a summer house in MA and have taken our dogs to the vet up there/here(I'm up here now, leaving tomorrow), and it has been significantly more expensive than FL prices, so fingers crossed it will not be that much. I can probably afford $300 just barely, $500 not so much ...will have to save some money or get my mom to help me out a bit.
          Thanks so much for replying!

          Comment


          • #6
            I've had 2 dogs with heart issues that have gone to the cardiologist. Heart check up's cost me in the $500-600 range. Most clinics will give you a price estimate before the exam because they are costly.

            Honestly, I would do one echo-cardiogram (and elevated heart rate won't matter, the exam is much more in depth then that) to get a base line and then not worry about it unless your dog shows classic symptoms (a cough post-exercise or in the evening/at night). They will also likely have you do a chest xray for periodic check ups. One vet wanted films taken every 6 months on a dog showing no symptoms. I did 2 films 6 months apart showing no change and then said nuts to that.

            Both of my dogs with heart problems ended up dying of a different, unrelated condition. Even the one in stage 4 congestive heart failure--his ticker was going along strong to his last breath. Do not fear heart problems with your dog. There are a thousand medications that can ease symptoms for a dog for so long, something else will fail before their heart takes them. In my experience anyway.

            But no, canine cardiologists are not cheap. If your dog has no symptoms, maybe save up for one appointment just to get a handle of what is actually going on with pup's heart, and then go from there. But an a-symptomatic dog with a purely stethoscope diagnosed heart murmur is not something I would fret about. Stethoscope heart murmur diagnoses are virtually useless and you cannot tell a single thing about a heart murmur from just listening, other then that it exists (and they're not too terribly uncommon either). A pin hole can sound like a raging locomotive and a giant gaping hole can have no sound at all--that's why they send you to a specialist.
            Power to the People

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Sswor View Post
              I've had 2 dogs with heart issues that have gone to the cardiologist. Heart check up's cost me in the $500-600 range. Most clinics will give you a price estimate before the exam because they are costly.

              Honestly, I would do one echo-cardiogram (and elevated heart rate won't matter, the exam is much more in depth then that) to get a base line and then not worry about it unless your dog shows classic symptoms (a cough post-exercise or in the evening/at night). They will also likely have you do a chest xray for periodic check ups. One vet wanted films taken every 6 months on a dog showing no symptoms. I did 2 films 6 months apart showing no change and then said nuts to that.

              Both of my dogs with heart problems ended up dying of a different, unrelated condition. Even the one in stage 4 congestive heart failure--his ticker was going along strong to his last breath. Do not fear heart problems with your dog. There are a thousand medications that can ease symptoms for a dog for so long, something else will fail before their heart takes them. In my experience anyway.

              But no, canine cardiologists are not cheap. If your dog has no symptoms, maybe save up for one appointment just to get a handle of what is actually going on with pup's heart, and then go from there. But an a-symptomatic dog with a purely stethoscope diagnosed heart murmur is not something I would fret about. Stethoscope heart murmur diagnoses are virtually useless and you cannot tell a single thing about a heart murmur from just listening, other then that it exists (and they're not too terribly uncommon either). A pin hole can sound like a raging locomotive and a giant gaping hole can have no sound at all--that's why they send you to a specialist.
              Thank you for this! It made me feel so much better. She has never shown any symptoms, but ever since the vet mentioning and my own research saying that it was "likely" she would die a young death from congestive heart failure I have been so very worried. I will not rush into it then, will wait until I definitely have the extra money to spare. Thanks so much again. =)

              Comment


              • #8
                My daughter had a GSD that was born with a very severe heart condition, Took the dog to 2 cardiologists. The first one said if the dog survived spaying she would live to old age and die of something else. The second one said she would die by 4 and just drop dead. Both were wrong and right. Cost was probably around 400 here in New England. The dog lived to 12, no medication etc and died suddenly on my living room rug. Far better way to go than having to be PTS. The dog was active until the last 2 weeks of her life when she developed severe vomiting from unknown causes. Came thru that and was recovering well when she died. Either the vomiting taxed her deformed heart or the heart had developed a tumor and burst. I didn't pay for an autopsy. She didn't suffer and that's all that matters.
                The first cardiologist said she sees lots of dogs with severe heart problems, adopted a few that owners wanted to get rid of. Most of these dogs will live normal lives with good nutrition, exercise and routine vet care and most will die of something else, usually cancer.

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                • #9
                  If you can feel the murmur it's no small problem. That's something I would work up sooner rather than later. A good medical management plan can do wonders for your pups lifespan, but the longer it goes untreated the greater potential for damage to be done.

                  Often vet schools are a bit cheaper, if you're near UF call them and ask how much for the cardiologist consultation/echo.
                  You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Horsegal984 View Post
                    If you can feel the murmur it's no small problem. That's something I would work up sooner rather than later. A good medical management plan can do wonders for your pups lifespan, but the longer it goes untreated the greater potential for damage to be done.

                    Often vet schools are a bit cheaper, if you're near UF call them and ask how much for the cardiologist consultation/echo.
                    This has me worried again. =/ I can feel the murmur quite easily.
                    I am about an hour from UF now, but I will be moving in 2 weeks to about 3-3 1/2 hours from UF, but not too far for a day trip if it's significantly cheaper. There is no way I will have the money within 2 weeks. I just got laid off from my job, thus the move. I have an interview for a pretty decent job on the 13th, I'm crossing my fingers SO hard I get it. If I get this job I should be able to get her to a cardiologist within 2-3 months. I really hope I get it. Please send jingles my way that I get this job and find a place to live.
                    Thanks for the advice.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would look into UF - that's where I took my chihuahua who had a grade IV murmur for the full enchilada workup (echo, etc). Iirc back in the 90's it was around 300-400, but of course I'm sure it has gone up :P. They were excellent, though, and only recommended that we do x-rays as a yearly follow up (they did put her on meds, of course - enalapril and lasix, iirc). She was oh, about 9 then, and died about three years ago at the ripe old age of...17.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My ballpark would be $400-600 for initial work up which could include physical exam, chest xrays, ECG, echo +/- bloodwork. Then $200-300 for follow-up echos (if needed, and they may not be once you have a diagnosis and know what you're dealing with).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We had a quote for $600 (Colorado) for an echo, ultrasound, xrays, and exam by a heart specialist who was familiar with sighthounds. Bloodwork was extra and optional. Fortunately ours grew out of it, but if your current dog is a sighthound they are different from other breeds and do need someone who's familiar with their quirks.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            animaldoc, that's wonderful, I will definitely call them first.

                            I have been talking to my aunt the vet about it, and she said that she misunderstood me when I first told her about it. She said that since it is almost certainly a congenital defect, not cardiomyopathy, there is likely very little they will be able to do to treat it, save possibly open heart surgery, which is probably not worth the risk in her opinion, but I will have to talk to the cardiologist about it.
                            I'm just so distraught.
                            I am still going to try and get her into a cardiologist within the next few months, just to see how bad it is and how much time I might have left w her.
                            Its just so upsetting to think about. I love this dog more than I love anything.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Took my border collie/newf to cardiologist, $600, about her congenital subaortic stenosis. Was told she had outgrown it and prognosis was good. Best $600 I ever spent.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Your aunt isn't necessarily correct - one big thing that can be congenital is a PDA (patent ductus arteriosus). It is a relatively simple surgery and can be done non-invasively by passing a coil through a vein in the leg, or with a chest incision - NOT open heart surgery (which requires bypass and is NOT commonly done - in fact, only a very few veterinary teaching hospitals have bypass machines for open heart surgery). Other congenital defects causing murmurs are narrowings in the arteries around the heart that can be corrected with a balloon dilation (again non-invasively by passing catheters through arteries). Depending on what is going on there could be a great prognosis for a long life (most PDAs never look back and are entirely normal).

                                You don't know WHAT you are dealing with, and what treatment (if any) is needed until you see the cardiologist.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'm in SE and about $500 for initial exam and echo. $30 for ausculation, $150 for u/s and about $350 for for holter monitor. Been there done that with my dog.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by animaldoc View Post
                                    Your aunt isn't necessarily correct - one big thing that can be congenital is a PDA (patent ductus arteriosus). It is a relatively simple surgery and can be done non-invasively by passing a coil through a vein in the leg, or with a chest incision - NOT open heart surgery (which requires bypass and is NOT commonly done - in fact, only a very few veterinary teaching hospitals have bypass machines for open heart surgery). Other congenital defects causing murmurs are narrowings in the arteries around the heart that can be corrected with a balloon dilation (again non-invasively by passing catheters through arteries). Depending on what is going on there could be a great prognosis for a long life (most PDAs never look back and are entirely normal).

                                    You don't know WHAT you are dealing with, and what treatment (if any) is needed until you see the cardiologist.
                                    Okay, this made me feel a lot better. I will definitely get her checked out by a cardiologist soon and hope for the best. Thanks so much!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      IME just because you can feel/hear a heart murmur easily doesn't mean it's severe/life threatening. A relatively harmless murmur can seem scary while a barely audible murmur can cause a dog (or horse) to suddenly drop dead. So please don't assume the worst just because it's loud!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Call some local cardiologists to you - they are used to giving estimates. Vet prices vary widely across the country.

                                        I'd want to get it checked out before you notice any clinical signs. Even if you can't afford treatment (if it's treatable), by monitoring it, you can get ahead of the heart failure curve with medications when the time occurs.

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