Vet Blog

Why Should My Pet Get an Echocardiogram?

December 13, 2018

If your veterinarian in Kerrville, TX suspects that your beloved pet might be suffering from some sort of heart problem, he may be referred to a specialist in electrocardiography.

This professional has training and experience in performing a short, simple procedure known as an echocardiogram.

What Is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a non-invasive procedure that can be performed on animals and humans alike and can allow a professional to assess the condition of your pet's heart. It may also be referred to as an ECG or EKG. A healthy heart is just as important to animals as it is to humans, yet unfortunately, abnormalities and health problems are also just as likely to develop. If the function of your pet's heart is compromised, not only could she become extremely unwell and experience unpleasant and debilitating side effects, but it could also claim her life.

What Is an Echocardiogram Used for?

An echocardiogram is used as a diagnostic tool, enabling your veterinary sonographer to visualize the structure of your pet's heart. In doing so, the echocardiogram can provide crucial information about the health and function of her heart that includes:

  • How big her heart is
  • How thick the walls of her heart are
  • The shape of her heart
  • How effectively her heart is pumping
  • Whether she has any abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow or any possible blood clots
  • Whether there are any abnormalities present in the valves
  • Whether there are any abnormalities in the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart)
  • Whether there are any areas of damage to the heart

What Can I Expect to Happen During My Pet's Echocardiogram Appointment?

Since electrocardiography is minimally invasive it can be performed without any need for pain relief medication for your pet. However, some vets will choose to provide the animal being checked with some sedation as this will ensure that they remain completely still for the duration of the appointment. This helps improve the clarity of the images and enables more accurate assessment and diagnosis.

Your cardiograph operator will lay your pet on her side and apply a special gel to her chest. This gel is what enables the sound waves that produce the image of your pet's heart to travel more efficiently. Sometimes it might be necessary for your sonographer to shave your pet's coat so that the probe can make direct contact with your pet's skin. The probe is then placed over it and moved around so that all areas of the heart are visible and can be assessed.

What Sort of Problems Can an Echocardiogram Detect?

An echocardiogram can identify a range of heart problems including, but not limited to:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Congenital (present from birth) heart defects that may require treatment / special care
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Damage to the heart, heart valves, or pericardium

In some instances, your sonographer may also recommend that your pet has a chest x-ray to look for symptoms associated with heart problems, for example, fluid on your pet's lungs would indicate that she may have congestive heart failure.

If your veterinarian in Kerrville, TX identifies a problem that requires treatment, this will be discussed with you so that prompt action can be taken.

If you would like to find out more about echocardiography and the benefits that this diagnostic test can have for your pet, please contact our AHAA accredited animal clinic in Kerrville, TX at (830) 896-6507.

Book an Appointment Here!