Heart Testing

There are several Heart Testing schemes run in association with breed clubs and the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society, which are recommended prior to breeding dogs from the following breeds

  • Boxer
  • Bull Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (new scheme in association with the Kennel Club)
  • Deerhound
  • Dobermann
  • Field Spaniel
  • Flatcoated Retriever
  • French Bulldog
  • German Wirehaired Pointer
  • Golden Retriever
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Japanese Chin
  • Miniature Bull Terrier
  • Newfoundland
  • Pekingese
  • Whippet
two vets inspecting a dog
Maine cat walking looking at camera

In some cases this may just involve a stethoscope test (to listen for a murmur), but in many breeds where congenital (inherited) heart conditions or acquired leaking valves or heart muscle disease are a concern, an ultrasound scan is needed to definitively say whether an animal is affected.

Schemes are also in place for some cat breeds to test for HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) which is a genetic heart muscle disease affecting cats of any age and breed. Feline heart testing always requires a Doppler ultrasound scan to carefully measure thickness of the heart walls and measure the blood flow in and out of the heart. Sedation may be required for anxious cats as we do need them to be fairly still! Many breeds are affected including Bengal, Birman, British Shorthair, Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest, Persian, Ragdoll and Sphynx.

 

Results are discussed and a certificate is supplied for every heart test immediately after the appointment, and these findings are then shared with the relevant breed club or organisation (and may be published online), depending on individual breed requirements.

Heart Testing must be performed by an experienced cardiologist who is approved by the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society. Dr Mark Patteson, Jo Harris and Dave Dickson are all RCVS Recognised Cardiology Specialists who are approved members of the VCS Heart Testing panel. They can provide Heart Testing examination and certificates at selected clinics – please clarify that this is what you require when you book your appointment to make sure one of these particular cardiologists is available.

When attending a Heart Testing appointment you will need to bring the following information:

  • Your dog or cat’s pedigree
  • Any registration documents e.g. Kennel Club certificate (which must include microchip number)

For more information on Heart Testing please visit the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society website at the following link:

Boxer puppy lying down