How often have you looked at your dog or cat and thought “If only I knew what was going on inside your head?” This inability to communicate is especially frustrating when our furry family members aren’t feeling well. They can’t tell us when they’re feeling under the weather. They count on us and regular check-ups with their veterinarians to make sure they’re in tip-top shape!

But the symptoms of heart disease aren’t always apparent!

Luckily, veterinarians and specialists like Dr. Wood can rely on an array of diagnostic tests to identify and manage pets’ illnesses. In cardiology, diagnostics such as x-rays, blood pressure, and lab work can be extremely useful in managing your pet’s heart health. The trump card in any cardiologist’s bag of tricks is the echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart.

Echocardiogram

Dr. Wood captures ultrasound images of this Labrador with a probe on the outside of his chest

If your pet has been exhibiting symptoms such as coughing, weight loss, reduced energy, or restlessness at night in conjunction with a new or previously noted heart murmur, your veterinarian may refer you to a cardiologist for an echocardiogram (‘echo-car-dee-o-gram’). The echocardiogram is a form of ultrasound imaging. The machine takes a video that shows the inside of your pet’s heart. Using this video the doctor assesses the heart chambers and integrity of valves, the force of the heart’s contraction, and the direction and velocity of blood flow through the heart.

Why is the information an echocardiogram provides so important?

Other diagnostics can tell us something is wrong with the heart. Something may be causing the heart to enlarge or beat irregularly. Only the echocardiogram tells us the full WHAT, WHERE, and WHY of your pet’s heart condition. For example, a Dachshund and a Doberman may both have heart murmurs and their x-rays might both reveal enlarged hearts. However ultrasound imaging may reveal that the Dachshund has Mitral Valve Regurgitation due to Endocardiosis, while the Doberman has Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

A definitive diagnosis lets us optimize your pet’s treatment plan. With the right combination of medications many pets with heart disease are able to live longer, healthier lives!

Still worried about what the echocardiogram entails…?

Echo image

Board certified cardiologists, like Dr. Wood, are able to interpret these images to provide your pet the best possible medical care!

We understand a trip to the office can be stressful for any pet. Luckily, the echocardiogram is a simple and non-invasive procedure. Our expert team will make sure your pet is safely and comfortably lying on their side while Dr. Wood collects a series of images and videos by running the sonographic probe over the outside of your pet’s chest. You will be present to help comfort your pet and hear the results of the diagnostics first-hand. Sedation is only necessary to soothe our most anxious patients. Sometimes pets even nod off during the 10-20 minute procedure!

The echocardiogram is an invaluable part of any cardiologist’s toolbox. It allows them to make definitive diagnostics and provide personalized treatment plans for patients with heart disease.

Contact our office for more information on how a board certified cardiologist utilizes the echocardiogram to manage your pet’s heart health!