The ECG (electrocardiograph) machine is used to obtain a tracing which tells us how a
patient’s heart is performing. A series of leads are attached to the limbs
and the machine maps out the trace.
We compare the animal’s trace to normal and can tell from this if there is heart enlargement, irregular heart beats and so on. Like an ultrasound, it is done with the patient wide awake and with minimal stress.
ECGs in dogs are very similar to ECGs in humans. They allow your pet’s veterinarian to evaluate the electrical stimuli as they move through the heart to make sure the heart is contracting appropriately. ECGs can help diagnose cardiac arrhythmias or abnormalities and are used in conjunction with other tests such as radiographs (X-rays) of the chest/heart and auscultation (listening to the heart with a stethoscope) to ensure your pet’s heart is healthy. ECGs can also be helpful before anesthetic events or during anesthesia to monitor the heart’s rate and rhythm. If any cardiac abnormalities are noted during the ECG, your pet’s veterinarian may recommend an ultrasound of the heart (Echocardiogram) in order to visualize the heart chambers and muscles to make a diagnosis.