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ECG for Pets: When Is it Needed?

If your pet is experiencing a condition that appears to be causing irregularities in the heart then your vet may recommend an ECG to get a better idea of what is going on. Today, our Deer Park vets share some information about ECG for pets and when they might request one.

What is an ECG and how does it work?

An ECG, otherwise known as an electrocardiogram, is used to show us the function of the heart. This type of technology is used on both animals and people to diagnose concerns involving the heart. The vet will attach small sensor pads to your pet's skin which the ECG machine will then use to track the electrical pulses within your pet's body. 

What can be seen with an ECG?

An ECG will help your vet learn a number of things about the heart health of your pet. It gives the rate and the rhythm of the heartbeat along with an understanding of the electrical impulses that are going through each section of the heart.

An ECG shows the heart's electrical activity and identifies arrhythmias or alterations in your pet's heart rate. Your vet may be able to determine if your pet is experiencing any type of heart disease using this diagnostic technology.

Once your vet has gathered all of the information given by the Ecg along with any other test they had performed, they can make an informed diagnosis of your pet.

Are ECG tests safe for pets?

Yes! ECG tests are a safe and non-invasive diagnostic tool. ECG is a diagnostic test that will passively monitor the functions of the heart.

When are ECG tests typically requested?

While there can be many different circumstances that result in an ECG test being performed, some of the most common are:

Abnormal Cardiovascular Physical Exam

Cardiac murmurs, gallop sounds and arrhythmias are some obvious physical exam abnormalities that are clear indications for an echocardiogram. This can often be an indication of diastolic dysfunction and an echocardiogram is always warranted when this occurs in dogs and cats.

Arrhythmias can be caused by intracardiac or extracardiac disease. An echocardiogram helps rule out primary cardiomyopathy and/or infiltrative cardiac disease that may explain the arrhythmia. The echocardiogram also helps to determine appropriate anti-arrhythmic therapy for the individual patient.

Breed Screening

Heart disease is a common condition among cats and dogs. In some cases, auscultation by a board-certified cardiologist is indicated to rule out the presence of a murmur. If a murmur has been detected then the vet will order further testing in order to gain a complete view of the heart health of your pet. In some breeds, however, an echo is always indicated to screen for heart disease.

Thoracic Radiographic Changes

Cardiomegaly noted on radiographs can be due to cardiac enlargement, pericardial fat accumulation, and/or patient variability. An echocardiogram is the most specific tool for determining the size of each cardiac chamber and is a very useful tool in delineating a cause for radiographic cardiomegaly. The echocardiogram is highly specific and sensitive for congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension.

Feline Echocardiography

When it comes to cardiology for cats, there can be extra difficulties due to the fact that they may not exhibit any obvious signs of abnormalities despite potentially suffering from severe cardiomyopathy. An echocardiogram is often the only appropriate diagnostic test that is both specific and sensitive for heart disease in cats.

Purebred cats have a higher incidence of heart disease, and therefore echocardiographic evaluation is often high yield in these patients. If this test results in suspected heart disease, an echocardiogram is recommended in these patients to confirm the presence of heart disease and determine the therapeutic needs of the patient.

Pre-Anesthetic Evaluation

The vet will always perform blood work and a complete examination prior to administering any anesthetic in order to ensure the safety of your pet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your pet in need of an ECG or other type of diagnostic testing? Contact our Deer Park vets to book an appointment for your companion.

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We are accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of companion animals in the Deer Park area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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