An echocardiogram is a highly effective, safe technique for diagnosing heart disease in pets. If you think your pet might need an echocardiogram, contact Haines Road Animal Hospital. We are one of the area’s few non-specialty practices to offer this service in-house.
What Is an Echocardiogram for Pets?
An echocardiogram is a non-invasive technique that a vet can use to assess the condition of your pet’s heart. It is the same test and imaging done in people with heart conditions.
An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create live images of the inside and outside of the heart, allowing the vet to see what the heart looks like and how it’s functioning in real time. Your vet can see:
- How big the heart is
- The shape of the heart
- How thick the walls of the heart are
- How well the heart is pumping
- Whether there are any abnormal blood flow patterns or possible blood clots
- Whether there are any abnormalities in the pericardium or valves
- Whether any areas of the heart are damaged
How Does a Pet Echocardiogram Work?
To perform an echocardiogram, vets typically hold a probe against the skin overlying your pet’s heart. The probe sends sound waves to the heart, which appear as images on a screen.
Echocardiograms are usually painless and safe to perform on almost any pet. While sedation is not always necessary, your vet may use it to ensure your pet is still for the duration of the procedure. Minimal movement helps your vet get the clearest images. Some patients may also need small areas of chest hair shaved to capture the best images.
Should My Pet Get an Echocardiogram?
Heart disease is a serious condition in dogs and cats. Factors like age, breed and diet can affect your pet’s chance of developing heart disease. An echocardiogram provides more insight into your pet’s condition, helping us determine the best treatment options.
We recommend echocardiograms for patients with a heart murmur, arrhythmia or suspicion of heart disease. If your pet displays any of the following symptoms, scheduling an echocardiogram could help identify whether a heart issue is causing the problem:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Bluish tinge to skin or gums
- Heart murmur
- Fainting or sudden collapse
- Hind leg paralysis in cats
Although heart problems are found more often in older pets, these conditions can affect pets at any age. Heart disease is usually a life-threatening condition, but early diagnosis and appropriate therapy can extend your pet’s life. If caught soon enough, some forms of heart disease can be cured.
Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF), which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively. If an animal is suffering from CHF, fluid usually accumulates in and around the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen. Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the heart valves), arrhythmias (rhythm disturbances), and heartworm disease can all lead to CHF.
Cardiology Testing In St. Petersburg, FL
If you suspect that your feline friend might be at risk for, or suffering from, any heart conditions, please contact us immediately to schedule an appointment today.
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