Here at our veterinary care center in Raleigh, we have a comprehensive series of diagnostic tools that we use to get a better picture of your pet’s health and to monitor any pre-existing conditions. Some of these tools are tools that may make you feel a little more anxious than others, for example, the electrocardiogram or ECG/EKG. While it’s normal to feel some anxiety anytime that your pet has to undergo a diagnostic procedure, it’s important to know that diagnostic testing is the best way to find out what’s happening with your pet’s health so that they can receive the veterinary care that they need. So, in an effort to help to relieve your anxiety just a little bit, we wanted to start a post series designed to explain a little more about some of the diagnostic procedures and equipment that we offer here at Leesville Animal Hospital. We’re starting today with the electrocardiogram.
Veterinary Care Center in Raleigh Explains Electrocardiography
What is an Electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram is referred to as both an ECG and an EKG. The ECG is used to record the electrical activity of the heart. It then prints out a visual representation of those electrical impulses to give your vet a picture of the electrical activity of your pet’s heart.
How is an Electrocardiogram Performed?
When you bring your pet in for an ECG, your pet will be laid flat on one side on a veterinary exam table for easier access to their chest or the process may be done while your pet is standing up. Then, the vet will apply a conductive gel to your pet’s skin and affix electrodes to that area of the skin to measure electrical signals of the heart. These electrodes simply stick on to the skin and do not pierce or puncture it – this is not an invasive procedure! The signals that are then picked up by these electrodes are recorded by the ECG machine and printed out as a graph. This allows your vet to see a visual representation of your pet’s heart rhythm.
Does Your Pet Need to Be Anesthetized or Sedated For an ECG?
No, In MOST cases, your pet does not need to be sedated or anesthetized for an ECG procedure. If your pet is particualrly anxious or does not take well to being restrained, the vet may recommend sedation to reduce the strain on your pet.
How Long Does an ECG Take?
The average recording done during an ECG is between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. In total, the ECG takes around 5 to 10 minutes. In some cases, it may take a little longer to get results back if your vet needs to consult with a canine cardiologist.
Why Does Your Vet Need an ECG?
Vets often use the ECG is to evaluate the rhythm of the heart, to investigate symptoms that appear to be related to heart function and to identify heart rhythm abnormalities. An ECG can also help to identify when the heart is enlarged which is commonly seen in pets with heart diseae. Lastly, the ECG can help to monitor heart function when your pet has an existing heart condition or is taking medications that can impact cardiac function.
In short, your vet uses an ECG to see how your pet’s heart is functioning.
Does the Use of an ECG Suggest the Worst?
Not at all! The ECG is a diagnostic tool, it helps your vet to confirm a diagnosis or disprove a theory based on your pet’s symptoms. It can also simply be used as a monitoring tool, so, no, an ECG doesn’t mean the worst! It’s also important to keep in mind that when heart disease, cardiac abnormalities, and heart murmurs are identified, tools like the ECG can help your vet to determine the best treatment plan so that your pet can have a longer and healthier life.
Are There More Tests After the ECG?
There may be. It depends what your vet sees when your pet’s ECG is complete. In some cases, an ECG can provide enough information, but in others, further tests could help to clarify unclear results or investigate symptoms that were not explained by the ECG.
Other tests that your vet may recommend include:
- An echocardiogram to get an ultrasound picture of your pet’s heart in action. This helps to identify structural changes in the heart and the flow of blood through the heart.
- Chest X-rays to get a picture of the heart and to look for any changes in size or placement.
- A holter monitor to track your pet’s heart rhythm and rate for 24 hours.
Veterinary Care Center With Comprehensive Diagnostic Tools?
If you’re in the Raleigh area and are in need of a vet care center in Raleigh with a full range of diagnostic tools at their disposal, Leesville Animal Hospital can help. To make an appointment with one of our three reputable and experienced vets in north Raleigh, just give us a call today at (919)870-7000!