Just as medical doctors specialize in various fields, so do veterinarians. There are veterinarians who specialize in cardiac medicine. They treat disorders of the circulatory system and heart. If your ordinary vet feels that your dog may have a heart problem or an issue with its circulation, they will likely refer your dog to a cardiac specialist. However, it's also helpful for you, as your dog's owner, to keep an eye out for the signs that your dog may need this more specialized cardiac care.

Exercise Intolerance

Exercise intolerance is a term used to refer to a situation in which a dog really starts to struggle with activity. If they do much more than walk across the room, they may become absolutely exhausted, lying on the floor and panting. This can be a sign that their heart is failing to pump enough blood to keep the body's cells oxygenated during exercise. Your dog may have a buildup of plaque in its arteries, low blood pressure, or congestive heart failure. A cardiac specialist can run a few tests, such as an EKG and a chest x-ray, to figure out what's going on.


When a dog has a cough, owners often suspect a respiratory infection. However, if your vet examines your dog and does not find any evidence of an infection, then you may want to see a veterinary cardiologist. Older dogs, especially, can develop a cough due to cardiac insufficiency that causes fluid to build up in their lungs. A cardiac specialist can diagnose this condition with an echocardiogram and sometimes chest x-rays.

White or Blue Mucous Membranes

Pay attention to the color of your dog's mucous membranes, such as their gums and the tissue around their eyes. If these tissues are often white, or if they sometimes have a blue tint, this means your dog's peripheral circulation is not what it should be. That could be due to a heart condition, a blockage in the arteries, or a disease that is attacking the veins and capillaries. Since these diseases can be tough to diagnose, you are better off working with a veterinary cardiologist to narrow down what's wrong with your dog.

If your dog is showing any of the above signs of possible cardiovascular problems, then look for a veterinary specialist in your area. Most larger vet practices do have a vet with this specialty, and if yours does not, then they should at least be able to refer you to someone.