This is an actual copy of an OFA clearance for Cardiac. Inside the
red box I have drawn on the certificate is the actual OFA registry number.
This number contains elements that give you detailed information
about this exam.
Here is how it breaks down:
- BF: The first two letters of the
OFA Registry Number are an indication of the breed of the dog. In this
case it stands for Bouvier des Flandres. On an OFA certificate
for a Shetland Sheepdog, the first two letters will be "SS".
- CA: Designates this Registry
number is for a (CA) Cardiac certificate.
- 1: The next group of numbers
before the slash indicate how many Bouvier des Flanders (or whichever breed
of dog you are concerned with) have been screened for OFA Cardiac prior to
this particular dog. In this case, this dog is the very 1st
Bouvier to have been screened for Cardiac abnormalities.
- 15: This tells you this dog's
age, in months, when the exam was completed. This dog was 15 months
old at the time of her OFA Cardiac exam. 12 months/1 year is the
minimum age for a dog to receive this particular certificate.
- F: Designates (M) Male or (F) Female.
- C: Designates this dog was examined by
a Cardiac Specialist. Other designations at this point in the Cardiac
OFA # might be (S) Specialist or (P) Practitioner. Look for an (S)
Specialist or (C) Cardiac Specialist designation - this gives more credibility to the certificate.
- T or PI: in the last place, after a
hyphen "-" (Not
indicated on the above certificate) these letters would tell you that the dog was permanently
marked with some form of identification. In this case, this dog had a form of permanent identification,
but the vet forgot to mark it on the
paper work. Effective January 1, 2001, the OFA
has adopted a policy acknowledging animals that have been submitted for
inclusion in our databases that have permanent identification in the form of
DNA profile, microchip, or tattoo with a suffix of "-PI" instead
This letter signifies that the test was most likely performed on
the dog listed on the certificate, but not all vets verify the dog's
identification. There have been cases where owner's have substituted
dogs to obtain a certificate on a dog that, in fact, couldn't pass a health
exam. I want to hope that most people are basically honest and that we
should question every certificate we look at - this is only a word of
warning if you are already dealing with an individual with questionable
morals. As of January 1, 2001, OFA requires all dogs examined for
certificates carry a permanent form of identification.
The OFA site gives the following Cardiac statistics on the breeds
raised at Moonstruck:
OFA has no data
for Shetland Sheepdogs at this time.
Use the following diagrams to help clarify the information
contained in the following detailed explanations of cardiac disorders and
American College of Internal Medicine
~ Specialty of Cardiology
For detailed information about Canine Cardiology published by the American College of Veterinary
Internal Medicine/Specialty of Cardiology
here for a link to the ACVIM Cardiac website). You can
also find a Cardiac Specialist by location or
your back arrow to return here.
Another EXCELLENT website for cardiac information.
your back arrow to return here.
**All italicized words in purple can be found in
the Glossary on the main Dog Health page.**
The following Cardiac information is
taken from the OFA site:
of OFA database
The purpose of the OFA cardiac
database is to gather data regarding
congenital heart diseases in dogs and
to identify dogs which are
normal prior to use in a breeding
program. For the purposes of the registry, a
phenotypically normal dog is
- One without a cardiac murmur
- One with an innocent heart murmur that is found to be otherwise normal
by virtue of an
echocardiographic examination which includes
Examination and Classification
Each dog is to be examined and classified by a veterinarian with expertise
in the recognition of canine
congenital heart disease in accordance with
procedures outlined in the OFA Application and General Instructions.
Dogs with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
The veterinarian and owner are encouraged to submit all evaluations, whether
normal or abnormal, for the purpose of completeness of data collection and
to assist in the analysis of inheritance of important canine
heart defects. There is no OFA fee for entering an abnormal evaluation of
the heart into the data bank. An owner can elect to have the diagnosis
remain confidential while still supplying the data to OFA.
The most common
defects can be grouped into several
anatomic categories. These
- Malformation of the
- Malformation of
ventricular outflow leading to obstruction of
- Defects of the cardiac
- Abnormal development of the great vessels or other vascular
congenital disorders of the
pericardium, or blood vessels
Complex, multiple, or other
Examination of dogs for CHD (Canine Heart Disease) is aimed at the identification and
classification to the
phenotypic abnormalities. Heritable aspects of CHD
cannot be addressed unless suitable genetic studies have been conducted.
Developmental Inherited Cardiac Diseases (SAS
At this time the inherited, developmental cardiac diseases like subaortic
are difficult to monitor since there apparently is
no clear cut distinction between normal and abnormal. The OFA will modify the congenital
cardiac database when a proven
modality and normal parameters by breed are established.
Grading of heart murmurs is as follows:
Grade 1—a very soft murmur only detected after very careful
Grade 2—a soft murmur that is readily evident
Grade 3—a moderately intense murmur not associated with a palpable
Grade 4—loud murmur; a palpable precordial
thrill is not present or
Grade 5—a loud cardiac murmur associated with a palpable precordial
thrill; the murmur is not audible when the stethoscope is lifted from the
Grade 6—a loud cardiac murmur associated with a palpable precordial
thrill and audible even when the stethoscope is lifted from the
Other descriptive terms may be indicated at the discretion of the examiner;
these include such timing descriptors as: proto(early)-systolic, ejection or
crescendo-decrescendo, holo-systolic or pan-systolic, decrescendo, and
tele(late)-systolic and descriptions of subjective characteristics such as:
musical, vibratory, harsh, and machinery.
A careful clinical examination that emphasizes cardiac
most expedient and cost-effective method for identifying
in dogs. While
there are exceptions, virtually all common congenital heart defects are
associated with the presence of a cardiac murmur. Consequently, it is
recommended that cardiac
be the primary screening method for
initial identification of
and the initial classification of dogs.
Murmurs related to
may at times be
difficult to distinguish from normal, innocent (also called physiologic or
functional) murmurs. Innocent cardiac murmurs are believed to the related to
normal blood flow in the circulation. Innocent murmurs are most common in
young, growing animals. The prevalence of innocent heart murmurs in mature
dogs (especially in athletic dogs) is undetermined. A common clinical
problem is the distinction between innocent murmurs and murmurs arising from
Definitive diagnosis of
one or more of the following methods:
with Doppler studies
- Cardiac catheterization with
- Post-mortem examination of the heart
Other methods of cardiac evaluation, including
thoracic radiography (chest x-ray), are useful in evaluating individuals with
CHD, but are
not sufficiently sensitive nor specific to reliably identify or exclude the
- The non-invasive method of
echocardiography with Doppler is
the preferred method for establishing a definitive diagnosis in dogs
CHD is suspected the clinical examination.
Echocardiography is an
inappropriate screening tool for the identification of
disease and should be performed only when the results of clinical
examinations suggest a definite or potential cardiovascular abnormality.
echocardiography provides an
of the heart and blood vessels. While moderate to severe cardiovascular
malformations can generally be recognized by two-dimensional
echocardiography, mild defects (which are often of great concern to
breeders of dogs) may not be identifiable by this method alone.
- Doppler studies, including pulsed-wave and continuous wave
Doppler, and two-dimensional color
Doppler demonstrate the
direction and velocity of blood flow in the heart and blood vessels.
Abnormal patterns of blood flow are best recognized by
Doppler studies can be combined with those of the
two-dimensional echocardiogram in assessing the severity of
Doppler echocardiography is used to evaluate relatively large areas of
blood flow and is beneficial in the overall assessment of the dog with
CHD. Turbulence maps employed in color
Doppler imaging are
useful for identifying high velocity or disturbed blood flow but are not
sufficiently specific (or uniform among manufacturers) to quantify blood
velocity. It is emphasized that quantitation of suspected blood flow
abnormalities is essential and can only be accomplished with pulsed or
continuous wave Doppler studies. Pulsed wave and continuous wave Doppler
examinations provide a display of blood velocity spectra in a graphical
format and are the methods of choice for assessing blood flow patterns
and blood flow velocity in discrete anatomic areas.
catheterization is an invasive method for
CHD that is considered very reliable for the diagnosis
catheterization should be performed by a cardiologist,
usually requires general anesthesia, carries a small but definite
procedural risk, and is generally more costly than noninvasive studies.
angiocardiography is considered one
of the standards for the diagnosis
CHD, this method has been supplanted
Doppler for routine evaluation of suspected
- Necropsy examination of the heart should be done in any
breeding dog that dies or is euthanatized. The hearts of puppies and
dogs known to have cardiac murmurs should always be examined following
the death of the animal. A post mortem examination of the heart is best
done by a cardiologist or pathologist with experience in evaluating CHD.
While it is obvious that necropsy cannot be used as a screening method,
the information provided by this examination can be useful in guiding
breeders and in establishing the modes of inheritance of CHD.
Each of the methods of evaluation indicated above may be associated with
false positive and false negative diagnoses. It must be recognized that some
cases of CHD
fall below the threshold of diagnosis. In other cases, a
definitive diagnosis may not be possible with currently available technology
and knowledge. These limitations can be minimized by considering the
following general guidelines:
- The results to the examinations described above are most
reliable when performed by an experienced individual with advanced
training an experience in cardiovascular diagnosis.
catheterization, and post-mortem examination of
the heart for
CHD requires advanced training in cardiovascular
diagnostic methods and the
- Examinations performed in mature dogs are most likely to be
definitive. This is especially true when considering mild congenital
heart defects. Innocent heart murmurs are less common in mature animals
than in puppies are less likely to be a source of confusion.
Furthermore, the murmurs associated with some mild
malformations become more obvious after a dog has reached maturity.
While it is quite reasonable to perform preliminary evaluations and
provide provisional certification to puppies and young dogs between 8
weeks and 1 year of age, final certification, prior to breeding, should
be obtained in mature dogs at 12 months of age or older.
- Examination conditions must be appropriate for recognition of
subtle cardiac malformations. Identification of soft cardiac murmurs is
impeded by extraneous noise or by poorly restrained, anxious, or panting
- A standardized cardiac clinical examination must be performed
according to a predetermined and clearly communicated protocol. Physical
examination and cardiac
auscultation should be used as the initial
method of cardiac evaluation. If the clinical examination is normal, no
further diagnostic studies are recommended. If the clinical examination
is abnormal, a tentative diagnosis may be made, but the definitive
diagnosis generally requires other diagnostic studies (as indicated
- Examiners who perform
Doppler must use
appropriate ultrasound equipment, transducers, and techniques. Such
individuals should have advanced training in non-invasive cardiac
diagnosis and should follow diagnostic standards established by their
hospital and by the veterinary scientific community, including standards
published by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine,
Specialty of Cardiology (J Vet Internal Med 1993;7:247-252).
Cardiac Evaluation for Database
The clinical cardiac examination
should be conducted in a systematic manner. The
mucous membranes, and
should be evaluated. Heart rate should be
obtained. The clinical examination should be performed by an individual with
advanced training in cardiac diagnosis.
Board certification by the American College of
Veterinary Internal Medicine, Specialty of Cardiology is considered by the
Veterinary Medical Association as the benchmark of clinical proficiency for
veterinarians in clinical cardiology, and examination by a Diplomate of this
specialty board is recommended. Other veterinarians may be able to perform these
examinations, provided they have received advanced training in the subspecialty
of congenital heart disease.
performed in a quiet, distraction-free environment. The animal should be
standing and restrained, but sedative drugs should be avoided. Panting must be
controlled and if necessary, the dog should be given time to rest and acclimate
to the environment. The clinician should able to identify the cardiac valve
auscultation. The examiner should gradually move the stethoscope
across all valve areas and also should
auscultate over the
pulmonary artery and the left craniodorsal cardiac base.
Following examination of the left
precordium, the right
precordium should be
of heart rate, heart rhythm, and exercise
Some heart murmurs become evident or
louder with changes in autonomic activity, heart rate, or cardiac cycle length
such changes may be induced by exercise or other stresses. The importance of
evaluating heart murmurs after exercise is currently unresolved. It appears
that some dogs with congenital subaortic stenosis
or with dynamic outflow tract
obstruction may have murmurs that only become evident with increased sympathetic
activity or after prolonged cardiac filling periods during marked sinus arrhythmia. It also should be noted that some normal, innocent heart murmurs may
increase in intensity after exercise. Furthermore, panting artifact may be a
problem after exercise.
- It is most likely
that examining dogs after exercise will result in increased sensitivity to
diagnosis of soft murmurs but probably decreased specificity as well.
Auscultation of the heart following exercise is at the discretion of the
- At this time the
OFA does not require a post exercise examination in the assessment of heart
murmurs in dogs; however, this practice may be modified should definitive
information become available.
The Echocardiographic Exam
examination should be conducted in a systematic matter.
The examiner must be able to perform two-dimensional, pulsed-wave Doppler, and
continuous wave Doppler examinations of the heart. The availability of color
Doppler is valuable but not essential for most examinations. The
examination should be performed and interpreted by individuals
with advanced training in cardiac diagnosis.
Board certification by the American College of
Veterinary Internal Medicine, Specialty of Cardiology is considered by the
American College of Veterinary Medical Association as the benchmark of clinical
proficiency for veterinarians in clinical cardiology, and examination by a
Diplomate of this Specialty Board is recommended. Other veterinarians may be
able to perform these examinations provided they have appropriate equipment and
have received advanced training in
pericardial space, both atria, both ventricles, the great vessels, and the
four cardiac valves should be imaged using long axis, short axis,
angled image planes as necessary to perform a complete examination of the heart.
Nomenclature should follow that recommended by the American College of
Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialty of Cardiology. An anatomic diagnosis may
be possible based on two-dimensional imaging; however, the origin of cardiac
murmurs should also be evaluated using
Doppler examination of all cardiac valves should be performed and recorded.
Abnormal flow should be quantified using pulsed wave or continuous wave
techniques. Values obtained should be compared to reference values. The
depressant effects of any tranquilizers or sedative must be considered when
measuring peak flow velocities. Color Doppler
echocardiography should be
employed if available to assess normal and abnormal blood flow patterns.
Identification of abnormal flow across the cardiac septa or shunts at the level
of the great vessels is best done by a combination of color and pulsed wave