Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions/answers that we are frequently asked. If you have additional questions that aren't covered here, please feel free to email or call at 760 331 7603.
- What are the hours? Most weeks, the service is available Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. For participating hospitals, phone, text, and email questions about mutual patients are available 7 days a week!
- Do I need to have an appointment? Yes, patients are seen by appointment. Your veterinary hospital will work with you to select an appointment day that works well for your schedule. If I have evaluated your pet in the last 12 months, I will always be available to consult with your primary care veterinarian at participating family practice veterinary hospitals.
- What is the pre-anesthetic screening? Depending on the physical exam findings, clinical history, and prior diagnosis it may be helpful to have chest radiographs or echocardiogram prior to anesthesia. With precautions, most patients with heart or lung disease do well with anesthesia. However, there are circumstances that I do not recommend elective anesthesia - severe pulmonary hypertension, end stage severe structural heart disease, active (or about to be in CHF and not on medications) congestive heart failure, uncontrolled arrhythmias (not all types), clinical signs of airway compromise at rest, chronic lung disease causing deoxygenation at rest.
- What patients should be evaluated by a cardiologist? As a general rule, if a patient has clinical signs that could be due to either cardiac or respiratory disease, an evaluation by a cardiologist is recommended. If there is pleural effusion or lung pathology on radiograph, it may be difficult to determine if heart or lung disease is the primary disease process. Sometimes both can be present at the same time. In this case, a noninvasive echocardiogram/thoracic ultrasound can be very helpful. If heart disease is not causing the problem, chest ultrasound, fluid/tissue aspirates can be obtained during the echocardiogram, if indicated. Primary respiratory diagnostics, excluding chest radiographs and echo, are usually more invasive and expensive (e.g. anesthesia and advanced imaging such as CT or bronchoscopy).
5. How can I monitor my dog at home for congestive heart failure? A resting or sleeping respiratory rate per minute is a very good test to help determine if a dog is experiencing CHF, or fluid in the chest. In a non dream state and cool environment, almost all normal dogs have a respiratory rate less than 30 per minute. Problems other than CHF can increase the respiratory rate (e.g. pneumonia and other airway and lung diseases). If CHF is suspected in a patient with known heart disease, I recommend chest radiographs. Monitoring the sleeping respiratory rate of feline patients does not seem to be as useful.
6. What is the best stethoscope for veterinarians? The most common answer is - personal choice. However, I recommend the Littmann Infant. The model has a bell and does not have a variable diaphragm.
7. My dog or cat is being treated for heart disease, what are problems to be concerned about? Progression of heart disease or drug intolerance can impair quality of life for your pet. Monitor for lethargy, anorexia, vomiting (especially if enalapril was recently started), cough, collapse, weight loss, abdominal distention, and increased breathing rate.
8. My dog is being treated for congestive heart failure. Are there any special dietary recommendations? Please see the following links for information regarding dietary information - dog diets and fish oil (Omega 3) supplementation.