A Veterinary Cardiologist is a vet who has undertaken further training after graduation in order to work at a higher standard of clinical practice to diagnose and treat heart disease in animals. Vets should not call themselves a cardiologist without first passing an examination in the subject, indicated by post-nominal letters that they will use after their name on practice documents, letter or email signatures. Cardiologists who are members of the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society (VCS) meet twice annually to keep up to date on various topics in cardiology, and a sub-set of these cardiologists are accredited by the VCS for breed screening in cats and dogs. Some cardiologists work in larger hospitals and are involved in interventional procedures – meaning minimally invasive heart surgery to place a pacemaker or treat a congenital heart disease (so called “Interventionalists”). Others work independent of a hospital facility, and travel between first-opinion vet practices to help vets diagnose and treat heart disease in their patients, at their own clinics (so called “Ambulatory” cardiologists). Most veterinary cardiologists have the capability to perform Doppler echocardiography, ECG and 24h Holter ECG recordings, drain fluid from the chest, or drain fluid from the pericardium (around the heart).
Different levels of post-graduate qualification in cardiology exist, so it is worth knowing whether your animal is seeing an accredited Specialist or an Advanced Practitioner. Without having official Royal College accreditation, vets should not refer to themselves as Specialists.