Animals can have heart health issues just like people, but knowing whether a heart problem exists, and whether something needs to be done to help it, can be challenging.

The Cardiology service specializes in identifying and treating heart conditions in animals. Pets are beloved companions and family members. Our Cardiology team is proud to collaborate with family veterinarians throughout Atlantic Canada to provide testing and treatment for any patient that is suspected of having a heart problem or a heart condition that requires specialty care.

Our Cardiology team will work with you to determine if there something wrong with your pet’s heart, what we need to do about it and what it means long-term for you and your pet?  We recognize that there is a “heart” on both ends of the leash, and we aim to answer these questions in a way that helps both the animal and his/her human caretakers.

Ahead of your appointment

Here are some things you should know before arriving for your pet’s appointment with the Cardiology service at the Atlantic Veterinary College:

  • Depending on what a particular patient might need, a visit to the Cardiology Service at the AVC can involve diagnostic tests, such as cardiac ultrasound, X-rays, bloodwork, electrocardiography (EKG), or wearable EKG (Holter monitoring),. Treatment may involve medication given at home, intensive care for our sickest patients, minimally-invasive surgical repair of birth defects or implantation of cardiac pacemakers, or no treatment but simply monitoring and rechecks in the future if the heart problem is found to be minor.
  • The majority of what the Cardiology team do is noninvasive and does not require sedation or anesthesia. Virtually all cardiac tests are performed with animals awake. Some tests require shaving of some fur if close contact with the skin is needed, such as with cardiac ultrasound. Many tests, such as X-rays, cardiac ultrasound, and EKG, provide results in real time, so we can provide you with our findings the same day.
  • Since every patient is an individual, we take time and give attention to be as thorough as we can. This means most visits will take several hours. We anticipate this by setting time aside for tests in anticipation of your visit (so they can be done the same day). We also want to meet with you and discuss test results at the end of your visit, and answer your questions.
  • Fasting: For the majority of our appointments, the Cardiology service does not require patients to be fasted prior to their appointment. If your pet does need to be fasted you will be informed of this ahead of your appointment.
  • Medications: Please continue to give your pet any medications as prescribed by your family veterinarian. Please bring all current medications in their original bottles with you to your appointment.
  • How to be referred: Your family veterinarian is well suited to helping arrange a referral to AVC Cardiology since they are familiar with your animal’s history and medical needs and are often making the initial assessment that a heart issue may be present. Your family veterinarian will discuss with you if referral to a veterinary specialist is recommended for your pet. If you choose to proceed with that option, your family veterinarian will contact us to provide all of the necessary information and to request an appointment. Our Client Services representatives will then contact you to schedule your appointment date and time.  Breeders seeking heart clearances on their breeding animals may arrange these types of appointments directly with the AVC Cardiology service through the Client Services team.
  • Medical Records: We require your pet’s previous medical records in order to fully evaluate their condition. Your family veterinarian will send your pet’s records to us without the need for you to do anything. If your pet has visited more than one veterinary clinic for the current condition please arrange for all records to be sent to us.
  • Payments: At the Atlantic Veterinary College Teaching Hospital we accept debit cards, most major credit cards and cash. If you have any questions about your payment options please contact our hospital for more information.
  • Insurance: Do you have pet insurance? If so, please bring your policy details with you for your appointment.  If not, we encourage you to research pet insurance, which can help ease your financial worries for your pet’s unexpected healthcare costs.
  • Financing: The Atlantic Veterinary College Teaching Hospital works with PayBright to offer our clients low-cost financing support. Please visit the PayBright website to learn more about what financing options may be available to you.

What to expect during your appointment

  • What is a teaching hospital?

As the teaching hospital for Atlantic Veterinary College veterinary students, our goal at the AVC-VTH is to provide exceptional veterinary care to your pet while also providing clinical teaching and instruction to our senior (final year) veterinary students, interns and residents.  Students participate in many aspects of examining and treating our patients under the immediate supervision of our licensed veterinarians and board-certified veterinary specialists.  Incorporating teaching into your pet’s appointment does take additional time, but our clinical care team do their best to provide prompt, efficient service within the hospital’s teaching environment.  As the only institution in Atlantic Canada educating doctors of veterinary medicine, teaching is essential to our hospital, however the well-being of our patients remains the highest priority for our clinical care team.

In addition to educating our students, our specialty services also provide advanced clinical teaching to interns and residents.  These are licensed veterinarians pursuing additional training to gain advanced competency in a specific area of veterinary medicine.

The AVC-VTH is a multi-disciplinary hospital.  Our Cardiology service works in conjunction with other specialty services within our hospital including radiology, small animal medicine, anesthesia, surgery, as well as our diagnostic laboratory, to ensure that your pet has access to the best in specialty care, diagnostic testing and treatment.

  • What to expect during your appointment?
    • Your Cardiology clinical care team will typically include a senior (final year) veterinary student, registered veterinary technician, a cardiology resident (veterinarian pursuing advanced specialty training) and a senior specialist ACVIM Board-certified cardiologist clinician.  Behind the scenes, the wider hospital team will provide the highest level of care and attention to meet your pet’s needs during their stay.
    • A senior veterinary student, dedicated to your pet during their visit, will greet you and your pet upon your arrival and bring you to an examination room.
    • Your student will discuss your pet’s condition with you, including asking questions to obtain a full medical history and performing a complete nose-to-tail physical examination on your animal.
    • Your pet’s assessment may take some time while we perform physical examinations, review medical records, and analyze previously performed diagnostic tests. This usually takes around an hour: 30 minutes for the medical history review and physical exam, and then 30 minutes where the student leaves you and meets with the rest of the Cardiology team to discuss their findings and analysis.
    • Once this is completed, your student will return with the rest of the Cardiology team to meet with you and discuss and explain our findings and recommendations with you.  . Important topics that will be discussed are which tests to perform and why, what our expectations are regarding your animal’s heart health status given the information known so far, and expected costs for the day.
    • In order to be thorough and to fully understand your pet’s condition so that we can make better recommendations, you may be asked questions that you have already discussed with your student or with your family veterinarian.  Please be patient during this process and remember to ask any questions that you may have so that we can understand all of your concerns about your pet or the options discussed.
    • We will then take your animal to begin the agreed tests or treatments.  The length of time needed for tests varies depending on the nature of the tests. In most cases, there is time for you to leave the hospital to have something to eat or go for a drive, or to return home if you live locally. We will let you know how long the tests are expected to take and at what time we would like you to come back to the hospital to discuss our findings and return your animal to you.
    • When you return, later the same day, we will meet with you to go over what we have found. Our goal is to answer your questions and tell you what we know. We will send you a written report via email a few days later, and a copy of that, and our test results, will go to your family veterinarian.
    • Our expectation for every visit is to review the past medical history, review materials sent to us by family veterinarians (X-rays and results from past blood tests, for example), complete an expert examination of your animal, perform diagnostic tests as needed, explain the results to you, discuss and prescribe medications as needed, and follow up with a complete summary of all of this.
    • If your animal needs to stay in the hospital overnight, whether due to a serious heart condition or in anticipation of a heart procedure or surgery, the discussion will cover immediate needs and goals, and longer-term expectations and options. We plan to be in contact with you regularly (at least once a day) during any hospital stay. We encourage you to tell us what you understand, what your questions are, and what your expectations and concerns are. It is our goal to help as best we can in every situation, realizing that means different things for different animals and different people
    • We realise that your time is valuable and we make every attempt to schedule diagnostics and treatments in a timely manner.  As a hospital that treats critically ill emergency patients, we do occasionally have to postpone scheduled diagnostics or procedures.  As with human hospitals, we will always work to care for the needs of the most urgent patients first.
    • Our hospital is staffed 24-hours a day by veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians so your pet will never be alone and will be closely monitored and cared for any time of day or night.
  • Do I have to leave a deposit and how are payments made?
    • The clinician responsible for your pet will discuss all of the recommended diagnostics and treatments and will review with you an estimate for your pet’s care.  We understand that each pet and client is unique and we will work with you to determine the most appropriate options for your family.
    • This estimate will cover a range because some elements of your pet’s stay may vary, such as the treatment and length of hospitalization, depending on what they find and how your pet responds to treatment.
    • Before we can proceed with your pet’s diagnostic and treatment plans, you will be required to leave a deposit of 50% of the upper range of the estimate.
    • If changes are recommended to your pet’s care plan during their hospitalization, you will be provided with an updated estimate and may be asked to top-up your deposit amount.
    • The remainder of the balance will be due at the time of discharge.
  • Payments:  At the Atlantic Veterinary College Teaching Hospital we accept debit cards, most major credit cards and cash.  If you have any questions about your payment options please contact our hospital for more information.
  • Insurance:  Do you have pet insurance?  If so, please bring your policy details with you for your appointment.  If not, we encourage you to research pet insurance, which can help ease your financial worries for your pet’s unexpected healthcare costs.
  • Financing:  The Atlantic Veterinary College Teaching Hospital works with PayBright to offer our clients low-cost financing support.  Please visit the PayBright website to learn more about what financing options may be available to you.

About us

The AVC-VTH is passionate about its goal to provide an outstanding level of health care for its animal patients while also providing clinical teaching and instruction to our senior (final year) Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students, interns and residents.[more]

Clinic hours

The AVC Veterinary Teaching Hospital operates 8 AM to 10 PM 7-365. Our front desk is staffed from 8am until 11pm 7 days a week. Clients can call to make appointments, request prescription refills, or to make other general inquiries during those hours. Appointments for Community Practice and Specialty Services are scheduled from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm based on service availability. Clients with animal emergencies can call between 8 AM and 10 PM-7-365.

AVC Urgent & Emergency Primary Care
8am-10pm Mon-Sun

If you are a small animal pet owner experiencing an emergency, please call 902-566-0950 or our primary Emergency Service. If you are a registered large animal client of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (including Farm Service and Ambulatory Equine Service clients) and are experiencing an emergency, please call 902-566-0950 and our team will contact the appropriate on-call large animal clinician.

To make an appointment

AVC Small Animal Hospital
Companion animals, exotic animals, pocket pets, wildlife

AVC Large Animal Hospital
Horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and other farm animals

AVC Ambulatory Equine Services
On-farm and racetrack care for horses

AVC Farm Service
Herd health, on-farm and emergency service for cattle, pigs, fish and other farm animals