At Gulf Coast Veterinary Cardiology we will treat your pets as if they were our own.
Since none of the tests being performed are painful, most dogs and cats tolerate cardiology diagnostics without requiring any sedation or anesthesia. In rare cases if a dog or cat is very anxious or fearful, a mild sedative may be required.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart that allows Dr. Schlater to evaluate the structure and function of the different chambers of the heart, as well as the large blood vessels that leave the heart. Echocardiograms are generally recommended to screen certain breeds of dogs and cats for heart disease, to determine the source of a heart murmur or arrhythmia, and to determine if heart disease is the cause of certain clinical signs (such as weakness, collapse or labored breathing).
During the echocardiogram your pet is gently laid on his/her side on a specially made, padded echo table. Alcohol and ultrasound gel are applied to the skin to facilitate contact between the echo probe and your pet’s body. Please note that some dogs and most cats will need to have a small area of fur shaved on both the right and left side of the chest to optimize image quality. A state of the art echocardiographic ultrasound machine with specialized cardiac probes is used to image your pet’s heart. After the images are acquired Dr. Schlater takes detailed measurements and generates a report with her diagnosis and recommendations.
An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a recording of the electrical activity of your pet’s heart. It is the standard initial test if there is concern that a pet has an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). It is also usually performed in conjunction with an echocardiogram as dogs and cats with structural heart disease are at higher risk for cardiac arrhythmias, even if an arrhythmia is not heard during a physical exam. To acquire the ECG your pet is gently laid on his/her side and four atraumatic electrode clips are placed on their limbs. The ECG is then recorded and measured.
Determination of an animal’s blood pressure is a crucial piece of information in pets with suspected heart disease. This is done by placing an inflatable cuff on one of your pet’s limbs or tail and measuring their blood pressure using a blood pressure monitor made specifically for dogs and cats.
In many cases, a pet with suspected heart disease will need to have chest x-rays performed. Chest x-rays allow assessment of the overall size of the heart and large blood vessels, as well as detailed evaluation of the lungs (which cannot be seen on echo). Blood tests and analysis of the urine are also typically recommended as part of a cardiac work-up since certain disease outside of the heart (such as abnormal thyroid levels) can affect the heart. Monitoring of a pet’s kidney values is also important during treatment with many cardiac medications.