What is a cardiologist?

Like our human counterparts, some vet doctors have done extensive further heart specialist training or cardiology. They deal exclusively with conditions like a heart murmur, arrhythmias, coughing and chest pain.
vet cardiologist

Our Board Certified cardiologist, Dr Leeder has trained for many years in the United States to amass a wealth of knowledge and expertise in managing complicated heart conditions and he is a SUPER lovely guy!

Why did my vet recommend an echo or cardiac consultation with a heart specialist?

Heart disease is very common in both dogs and cats. We may have detected a heart murmur of signs of heart disease on a physical examination. However, to definitively characterise heart disease and optimise therapy, to prolong life and quality of life, we recommend evaluation by a Board-Certified veterinary cardiologist.

The best test to evaluate the heart is an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart that requires specialised equipment and training. This advanced testing is offered at all Southern Cross Vet locations.

What happens on the day of the Cardiac evaluation?

echo cardiogram

You drop your pet off to us before the cardiology appointment and leave them with our caring nurses and kennel attendants.

After a focused cardiovascular physical examination and review of your pet’s medical history and past diagnostic tests, a detailed echocardiographic examination is performed utilising an advanced, state-of-the-art cardiac ultrasound machine. Additional tests such as ECG or electrocardiograms may also be performed if the cardiologist recommends it.

Once the diagnostic evaluation is complete, the animal cardiologist will consult with your Southern Cross Vet general practitioner and together a treatment and management plan is developed, taking into account any unique factors that affect your pet. A written assessment and medical management plan is then provided to you.

What information will I receive after the cardiac evaluation?


To provide you with all the available information about your pet’s heart health, a detailed and specific report is written that will be available to you when you pick up your pet. This report will summarise the test results, provide comprehensive information about the diagnosis, discuss treatment options, and outline long-term monitoring recommendations and prognosis. This report is specific to your pet and typically answers all the questions you may have about your pet’s cardiac condition.

Is sedation required?

The vast majority of pets do not require sedation for a cardiac evaluation. However, in a small percentage of patients (<10%) mild sedation may be appropriate to ensure diagnostic images are obtained without undue stress.

Will my pet’s fur need to be clipped for the cardiac ultrasound?

Many pets can be adequately evaluated without clipping any fur. However, depending on their coat density and the complexity of the cardiac condition, some patients benefit from clipping a small patch of fur from their lower chest (in the underarm area, just behind the elbows). If it is important your pet not have any fur clipped (e.g. show dog), please ensure we are made aware of this prior to the evaluation and we will be happy to accommodate this request.

Are the tests invasive or painful?

The primary test performed is the echocardiogram. This test is a form of ultrasound, similar to what is used in human ultrasounds (such as in pregnancy ultrasound scans). It is non-invasive, non-painful, and very safe. Any other tests typically performed during a cardiac evaluation (e.g. ECG) are also non-invasive and non-painful.

It is important to realise that no radiation is experienced by your pet during an ultrasound.

How do I organize a cardiac consultation or check up?

Consultations are arranged by contacting your local Southern Cross Vet reception or SMSing 0406 9 DR SAM.