Cardiac ultrasound dogs

  • Cat
  • Cardiology

Echocardiography, which is now established in veterinary medicine as the gold standard in cardiac diagnostics, is the ultrasound examination of the heart.

Cardiac ultrasound in dogs – procedure, cost and further information

Just like humans, animals can also benefit from ultrasound technology. The method is used in both dogs and cats to examine organs such as the lung, liver or even heart. You can find out here what exactly you need to know about it, how best to prepare your dog and what it can cost.

Cardiac ultrasound in dogs: how it works

The best news right at the start: cardiac ultrasound in a dog causes no pain at all and is completely harmless for the animals. All that is used are sound waves, as you will hear, so there is no danger.

For cardiac ultrasound in both dogs, the vet places the ultrasound probe or transducer – the device that emits the wound waves – over the organ to be examined. If cardiac ultrasound is to be done, the vet would place the transducer in the vicinity of the dog’s heart.

A small disadvantage is that the technology only works on bare skin. This means that a little of the coat will very probably have to be clipped (if a bare enough area cannot be produced by parting the hair) – The noise of the electric clipper can make dogs anxious. This depends completely on the animal; some pets are not bothered at all and put up with it quietly, but others resist.

  • A little tip: for cardiac ultrasound in both cats and dogs it does no harm if the animal relieves itself beforehand. If the bladder is full and additional stress arises due to the examination, the animal will feel doubly uncomfortable.

You do not have to make any preparations personally for cardiac ultrasound in dogs. When the appointment is made, we will inform you about feeding on the day of the examination.

Duration of cardiac ultrasound in dogs 

The actual scan often takes only a few minutes. The fact that some animals nevertheless find the examination not particularly pleasant is due also to the unaccustomed examination position, lying on their back or side. To examine the heart, dogs and cats must usually lie on their side. In rare cases it is also possible to perform the examination with the dog standing, for instance in the case of very large dogs or very fearful animals. Do not be surprised if your otherwise so docile pet resists this procedure in the unaccustomed surroundings. If everything goes smoothly, however, the actual examination takes not more than a few minutes up to about half an hour.

What can a cardiac ultrasound show?

Cardiac ultrasound in both cats and dogs allows very precise conclusions about the anatomy in the heart. A trained vet can assess the size of the heart chambers and heart valves. It is also possible to see the blood flow in the heart accurately. This can be helpful in identifying abnormalities, such as leaking heart valves, at a very early stage.

Another option with cardiac ultrasound is measurement of the flow rates of the blood at different points. These flow rates allow conclusions with regard to pressures and the behaviour of the cardiac chambers. This also applies for cardiac ultrasound in cats. Diseases of cardiac muscle, tumours or vascular malformations can also be found so that timely treatment can take place.

Cardiac ultrasound in dogs: procedure

Using the example of cardiac ultrasound in a cat we show you how this examination proceeds. Cardiac ultrasound in a dog does not differ at all, which is not surprising in view of the very similar anatomy of both animals.

  • First, a small window on the chest wall is clipped. Some dogs don’t like the noise of the clipper and others are not bothered by it.
  • The vet uses a contact gel, applying it either to the transducer or to the animal’s bare skin. This is necessary as results are obtained only when there is complete contact with the skin. Hairs or dust between the skin and ultrasound probe would make the examination impossible.
  • The internal structure of the heart is shown on the monitor. For a comprehensive assessment, the ultrasound probe is also placed on the other side of the chest wall. Lay persons cannot obtain useful information from the monitor but these images tell a vet what he needs to know – and that concludes the ultrasound scan.

If the cardiac ultrasound causes enormous stress to the dog or it's uncooperative a sedation or a brief anaesthetic makes sense. This is usually needed only in absolute exceptions and is not an option for breeding soundness examinations.

The vet then discusses the scan result and possible treatment measures. Depending on the diagnosis, medications must then be given, for example.

Cardiac ultrasound in dogs: cost

If you have health insurance for your dog, this will probably meet the full cost of the ultrasound. The involved work sequence does not differ between dogs and cats. However, performing cardiac ultrasound involves specialised veterinary surgeons.

Do you need help? Come to us!

Cardiac ultrasound in both dogs and cats is a completely harmless investigation that can make many dangerous diseases visible even at a very early stage. An ultrasound scan of the abdomen is also possible. Our patient staff also know exactly how to calm “anxious” patients. You can contact us without any obligation and we will be happy to help you.

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