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ECG for Dogs & Cats: When are they needed?

When a pet experiences an issue affecting their heart they should have the issue diagnosed as soon as possible. In this blog post, our Clinton Township veterinarians discuss the purpose of ECGs for cats and dogs, what they tell us about your pet's heart, and when they might be needed.

What is an ECG?

An electrocardiogram (ECG), also known as an electrocardiograph (EKG),  is a safe and non-invasive way to check your pet's heart. By attaching small sensors to the skin, it measures the electrical activity of the heart and provides a visual representation of its functioning. This method offers a safe and effective way of observing your pet's heart without invasive procedures.

What does an ECG tell your veterinarian about your pet?

An ECG pattern has three main parts: a small bump called the P-wave, a big spike known as the QRS complex, and another small bump called the T-wave.

The P-wave signifies the contraction of the atria, while the QRS complex represents the depolarization of the ventricles, which corresponds to the characteristic heartbeat. The T-wave indicates the repolarization of the heart.

When your vet checks the ECG, they look at wave shapes and the time between them. They pay close attention to the P-wave and QRS complex time. These tell how fast the heart gets and pumps blood.

Additionally, the peaks of the QRS complex and the distance between them offer significant insights. A consistent distance between the spikes indicates a regular heartbeat, while variations suggest an irregular heartbeat.

What are normal cat and dog ECGs?

The normal rhythm for a canine ECG should be 60 to 170 beats per minute. The normal rhythm of cats should be 140 to 220 beats per minute.

Are ECGs safe?

Yes, ECG tests are safe. ECG is a non-invasive diagnostic test that passively monitors the heart.

When would a vet use an ECG?

Some examples of when a vet may order an ECG are:

  • For the diagnosis of arrhythmias noted on clinical examination
  • To rule out arrhythmias in animals with a history of collapse
  • For providing information regarding chamber enlargement
  • To display information about electrolyte disturbances
  • To provide supportive evidence of a diagnosis of pericardial effusion
  • For monitoring the effectiveness of anti-arrhythmic therapy
  • To monitor the heart rhythm under anesthesia

How much is an ECG for a dog or cat?

As with many other veterinary care services, the costs will vary from clinic to clinic and from pet to pet. This is because several different factors contribute to the final cost.

This can be the location of the clinic and the expertise of the practitioner as well as the type of equipment used. The age and species of your pet also play a role in the final amount that you will pay.

Please speak with your vet to discuss the estimate of the cost for your pet and a breakdown of the bill.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned your dog or cat might need an ECG? Our Clinton Township animal hospital offers ECGs for pets. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Snider Veterinary Service is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Clinton Township companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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