One of the safest and most accurate diagnostic devices used to evaluate an animal’s heart health at our animal hospitals is the electrocardiogram, or ECG. By recording electrical impulses within an animal’s heartbeat and amplifying them over 3000 times, an ECG can generate a detailed report regarding possible problems with your pet’s heart that cannot be detected otherwise.
Reasons for getting an ECG done.
- Suspicion of irregular heart rhythms or heart murmurs in senior pets
- Possible side effects from certain medications impacting your pet’s cardiac system (heartworm medication, for example)
- Preparing your pet for surgery requiring general anesthesia
- Your pet is experiencing respiratory problems/ fainting spells/difficulty breathing
- Confirmation of an imaging diagnosis
If our veterinarian thinks your pet may have a heart disease, he may want to do a cardiac work-up involving a variety of tests to formulate a more exact diagnosis. Typically, an ECG is accompanied by blood tests and possibly ultrasounds or x-rays.
Signs of heart conditions in pets may go unnoticed until the disease has progressed beyond the early stages. Symptoms to watch for include: unusual shortness of breath after physical activity, breathing difficulties, sleep restlessness, and episodic fainting. In addition, some purebred dogs are more prone to having heart issues, such as dachshunds, cocker spaniels and bulldogs. Your veterinarian will be happy to discuss dog breeds and their potential for acquired or congenital heart conditions.