Breeder Screening

Dr. Atkinson supports local breeders by offering routine cardiac screening both in-IMG_4203-eyesopen copyhospital and at breeder hosted events. These evaluations are used to determine if dogs and cats have congenital heart disease (a heart condition they are born with).  But many people also use them to screen for acquired heart disease in certain breeds (a heart condition developed over time).

You can obtain 2 levels of OFA certification for your dog.

Option 1, listening for a heart murmur (termed auscultation) has historically been the method of choice for detecting heart disease.  Some disease conditions like degenerative mitral valve disease produce an audible murmur as an early manifestation of the disease. However, not all heart conditions are associated with heart murmurs and with this method alone some dogs with heart disease go undetected.

Option 2, an echocardiogram, is the gold standard for diagnosing heart disease, whether it is congenital or acquired, and is becoming the method of choice for certification by many breeders and individual pet owners.  It is the diagnostic test of choice to evaluate cats. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound study of the heart that allows the cardiologist to look directly at the heart and determine if heart disease is present, even in the absence of a heart murmur.

Dr. Atkinson truly enjoys performing heart clinics and offers discounts for examining multiple pets as part of a responsible breeding program. If you would like to make arrangements to host a heart clinic, please contact Dr. Atkinson at or (971) 727-3059.