Hearing that your dog or cat needs to see a cardiologist for an echocardiogram is a very stressful time for a pet parent. In addition to worrying about your pet, you will also be worrying about your finances. How much does an echocardiogram cost for a cat? For a dog? We discuss this and give you a personal experience with costs.
The quick answer: An echocardiogram for a dog or cat costs about $550. However there is a lot more that goes into a “heart inspection” at a veterinary cardiologist. Treating pets with heart issues is going to be a big veterinary expense that entails multiple appointments. An echocardiogram for a dog or cat will cost many hundreds of dollars, not including the vet/cardiology exam fee, other tests they want to do, and medication costs. Depending on the severity of the heart problems and other health issues, the costs can be in the thousands. There will be ongoing costs for the life of your pet if their condition is severe.
The good news is that usually the initial cardiologist appointment is the most expensive. Checkups are usually much cheaper as the initial tests such as the echocardiogram are big expenses that do not need to be repeated at every appointment.
Pet insurance may cover the costs of an echocardiogram and other tests a cardiologist will do on your pet. If you do have insurance that covers your cat or dog, you will probably be reimbursed for a good amount of money.
Even with a big expense, the great thing about going to a veterinary specialist like a cardiologist is that they have advanced knowledge about complicated issues. Medication and treatments can extend a pet’s quality of life and life span. The money spent is well worth it for keeping your companion as healthy as possible amidst their health problems.
An Example of Costs For a Dog or Cat Echocardiogram
Disclaimer: The author is not a veterinarian or involved in the field – just a pet owner that has now owned both a dog and cat with heart issues. Not all heart issues are this severe and advanced.
My cat Willow was referred to a veterinary cardiologist after spending the night at the emergency veterinary hospital with congestive heart failure. The cardiologist was booked solid for almost a month. We called the office twice a day checking for a sooner appointment. Luckily one did open up and a week after the emergency hospital stay, Willow went to the cardiologist.
Initial cardiologist visit – Cost: $881.15
Cardiology consultation $150
Blood Gas Chem 8+ $93.50
Pimobendan medication, one month supply $56.90
Clopidogrel, four month supply $30.75
Willow’s diagnosis was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. The medications pimobendan and clopidogrel were prescribed for her heart failure. She also takes a medication called furosemide, but we had already gotten that from the emergency veterinary clinic and did not need to purchase more at this visit.
Cardiologist one week follow up – $188.50
Cardiology follow up appointment $95
Blood Gas Chem 8+ $93.50
One week later was the follow up cardiology appointment to check that the new medications were working out. Luckily everything was fine and it was just a quick appointment.
This means that the total initial cardiologist expenses were $1,069.65. Even though the echocardiogram only cost $550, the other tests and medications to go along with the echo cost just over $500. After the initial visits, you will find out if and when you will need follow up appointments. For Willow, follow ups will be every three to four months. At these appointments she will be given a check up and any medication levels can be adjusted as her heart disease progresses.
Echocardiograms for a cat or dog can be expensive due to the initial costs, follow ups, and other tests needed to check on your pet’s health. Consider that you may need to spend many thousand of dollars to treat your dog or cat. Also know that visits to the regular veterinarian will be another expense. Sometimes a pet will have other health issues in addition to the heart problem. For example in addition to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and being in heart failure, my cat has hyperthyroidism. All these vet bills are quite expensive and multiple blood tests have been needed, plus xrays and quite a lot of medication and supplements.
Another personal experience with pet heart issues
Unfortunately I have experience with unknowingly having a sick dog and not taking him to the vet. My dog Clyde was fine other than a cough that we thought was from him getting into the cat litter box. He was an old guy but still had energy and enjoyed his normal activities. Then he started acting sick one night, just being quieter than normal. We went to the veterinarian the next morning but they found nothing wrong with him, gave him some fluids, took x-rays and blood tests, then sent us on our way. The next morning we knew something was very wrong and rushed him to the emergency veterinarian. Unfortunately his condition had progressed too far and he died of heart failure while they were working on him. It has been years now and I still blame myself for not recognizing what his symptoms meant. It is painful to write about him and that experience, but if it can help others I am glad of it. It is also important to know the signs of heart problems in a dog or cat so you know what the dangerous symptoms are.
If you are not sure whether you want to or can afford to go to the cardiologist with your pet, I urge you to work closely with your veterinarian. Heart issues are a big deal that can strike very quickly. Your veterinarian can help you care for and make decisions for your pet that you can afford. If you feel that your pet is sick or not acting like normal, it is a good idea to take them for a vet visit. Another important thing to know is that if the vet does not find anything wrong and you do not feel satisfied, getting a second opinion is perfectly fine.
You may feel bad if you cannot afford the cardiologist and echocardiogram for your pet. Please do not feel that way. It can be a struggle just to pay daily expenses without adding in these sometimes outrageous costs for your pet. It is completely possible that getting these tests done will put you into long term debt that can have very high interest rates. This is a very personal decision which should be made not only with your pet’s best interests in mind, but should also your family’s quality of life if this debt is taken on.
Pets are our family members and it is stressful and scary when they need medical care. Just by researching the topic, it means that you care deeply for your pet and want to do the best that you can for them. The cost of an echocardiogram for your dog or cat, plus the associated tests and expenses can be very pricey. This may be out of reach financially, but do not feel badly if so and do your best to work with your primary veterinarian while staying in your budget.