An echocardiogram (or heart ultrasound) is used to look within the heart, confirm the diagnosis, and to look for other problems within the heart that might confound therapy.

We perform all phases of echocardiography (heart ultrasound)

We want you to be present to see the echocardiogram, so we can teach you as we perform the examination, and you can calm your pet


  • MMode
    • This allows us to perform measurements on chamber sizes and function

  • Two Dimensional
    • This allows us to see what is happening inside the heart
    • We can see the chambers and muscle, evaluate for masses, fluid in the heart sac, blood clots and so much more

  • Color-flow Doppler
    • We can see blood flow within the heart
      • we evaluate all valves to see if they are leaking and to what extent
      • we can quickly evaluate for abnormal blood flow

  • Spectral Doppler
    • Here is where we can measure pressures within the heart, and even the lungs

  • Tissue Doppler
    • This allows us to evaluate function at specific points in the heart
      • We can get a sense of abnormal relaxation of the heart
      • We can get a sense of pressures that spectral Doppler may not give

  • Analysis of measurements with reference to normal values
    • We are the only group who can analyze the measurements we obtain with complete normal values
      • We use EchoVet, veterinary ultrasound software we built ourselves
        • We have every normal value in veterinary medicine
        • We have breed values so we can closely analyze and monitor your pet


  • X-rays (radiographs) let us see the heart size (but not inside the heart), and also let us evaluate the lungs (which an echocardiogram cannot perform)
    • . Radiographs show how large the heart is in the chest and how it is enlarging with time, and also show congestive heart failure (pulmonary edema) or other lung problems.
      • Radiographs are often repeated with time to assess response to therapy.


  • An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is very useful to check for rhythm disturbances and may be repeated to assess response to certain medications.

Holter Monitor

  • An 24 hour electrocardiogram (Holter monitor) may be required to check for very intermittent rhythm disturbances where we cannot detect significant rhythm disturbances in the office
    • Your pet wears a backpack system at home, and we want you to perform normal activities
    • This is often necessary if a pet is fainting occasionally

Doppler Blood Pressure

  • A blood pressure is often useful, since the heart is not pumping blood effectively, and blood pressure can be low
    • Some heart medications can lower blood pressure, and cause pets to be weaker on their medications
  • Doppler blood pressures are the most accurate for small dogs and cats

Laboratory Testing

  • Since heart medications can affect other body systems (especially the kidneys), laboratory testing is often essential
    • Labwork is very important, because hearts with disease do not handle water loads very well , but kidneys require water load to maintain function.
      • Usually, there is a wide area to work within where the heart and the kidneys are both happy, but if kidney function is marginal, kidney failure can occur.
  • We may also need to evaluate for other disease that may be making your pet feel ill


  • We don’t perform flouoroscopy (which is a moving X-ray) all that often, and it is very helpful when we do
    • Pacemakers
      • Yes, pets get pacemakers, and it makes a world of difference for them
    • Tracheal collapse
      • Occasionally, we need to perform flouoroscopy to diagnose tracheal collapse
      • We use flouoroscopy if we need to place a stent inside the trachea to hold it open if a pet is having trouble breathing with their tracheal collapse
    • Congenital defects
      • There are certain congenital defects that may be fixed using flouoroscopy
        • Pulmonic Stenosis
        • Patent Ductus Arteriosus