The heart of your pet’s health
Heart disease is common among pets, especially as they become older. That’s why routine wellness checks are important—and why we may refer you to a specialist in veterinary cardiology.
If we detect an abnormal heart rhythm or blood flow when we listen to your pet’s heart, or if your pet has symptoms like coughing, labored breathing, lethargy or weakness, tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiogram can often give us more information to make a diagnosis.
Heart problems in pets include:
- Chronic valvular disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
- Feline cardiomyopathy
- Heart murmurs
What to expect
In addition to the referral to a cardiologist for specialized testing, we can perform x-rays, blood tests or blood pressure measurement in our facility if needed.
An electrocardiogram is a painless, non-invasive technology that monitors your pet’s heart rhythm and electrical impulses. The veterinarian or their technician will attach a series of electrodes to your pet’s chest. The EKG records your pet’s heartbeats on a graph, which will be reviewed to pinpoint abnormalities. The test takes only a few minutes and requires no sedation, so your pet can go home afterward.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. This painless, non-invasive technology uses sound waves to generate a three-dimensional image that lets us see inside the heart to evaluate the valves and other heart structures. For this test, a portion of your pet's coat may be shaved on the chest. The cardiologist will rub a wand covered with conductive gel over the area to be examined. The digital image appears on the monitor as the wand is moved and is also stored to memory for later review.
Based on test findings, a treatment protocol will be recommended for your pet’s particular problem, and a report will be sent to your pet's primary veterinarian. Once your pet has been diagnosed with a cardiac condition, it is best to have him or her re-evaluated regularly—usually every three to six months. We will also teach you what to look for in case your pet experiences a sudden worsening of his or her condition. If you recognize signs of a cardiac crisis, call our office immediately. If our office is not open, please take your pet to the nearest 24-hour emergency facility.
24-hour veterinary emergency facilities
Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC)
301 Veterans Hwy., Levittown, Pa.; 215-750-7884
1114 S. Front St., Philadelphia, Pa. 267-800-1950
Center for Animal Referral and Emergency Services
2010 Cabot Blvd. West, Langhorne, Pa.; 215-750-2774