Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

ECG for Cats & Dogs

In this post, our Stockton vets discuss ECGs for dogs and cats, when your vet will order one and how to understand your pet's results.

What is an ECG?

An ECG is a test for monitoring your pet's heart. Small sensors attached to the skin monitor electrical activity to provide an image of the heart's activity.

This is a non-invasive way of observing the heart in pets.

What does an ECG tell your veterinarian about your pet?

An ECG tells your vet several things about your pet's heart. For one, it gives the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. It also gives them an understanding of the electrical impulses that are going through each section of the heart.

A typical ECG consists of a pattern: a small bump that rises up, called the P-wave, then a large spike upward, called the QRS complex, and then another small bump called the T-wave.

The P-wave represents the atria contracting. The QRS complex occurs when the ventricles depolarize, or when the heart contracts in the typical 'heartbeat' rhythm. The T-wave represents the heart repolarizing.

Your veterinarian will assess the wave's form and gauge the separation between its constituent segments. The data that the P-Wave and the QRS complex interval provide is often concerning. These demonstrate the heart's rate of blood intake and pumping.

The next major source of information is the peaks of the QRS complex and the distance between them. If there is a constant distance between the spikes you have a regular heartbeat. If they vary, you have 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:

Abnormal Cardiovascular Rhythm

Cardiac murmurs, gallop sounds, and arrhythmias are a few examples of obvious abnormalities that may necessitate an ECF. These are common symptoms of diastolic dysfunction in dogs and cats, and an ECG is always recommended.

An ECG can help diagnose primary cardiomyopathy and/or infiltrative cardiac disease. ECGs can be caused by extracardiac or intracardiac diseases. The optimal anti-arrhythmic medication for each patient is also determined with the help of the ECG.

Breed Screening

Many dog and cat breeds have a hereditary tendency toward heart disease. The dog breeds include the Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Great Dane, and Doberman Pinscher. Cat breeds include American Shorthair, Persian, and Maine Coons.

Thoracic Radiographic Changes

Radiographs may reveal cardiomegaly due to patient variability, cardiac enlargement, or pericardial fat accumulation. An ECG is the most accurate way to measure the dimensions of each cardiac chamber, and it can also help determine the cause of radiographic cardiomegaly.

Feline Echocardiography

Cats can be particularly difficult cardiology patients because they may have severe cardiomyopathy or other heart conditions despite no visible symptoms. For cats, an ECG is frequently the most specific and sensitive diagnostic procedure available.

As heart disease is more common in purebred cats, an ECG evaluation is frequently advised to confirm the presence of heart disease and identify the patient's therapeutic requirements.

How much is an ECG for a dog or cat?

It's always best to contact your vet directly if you're curious about the cost. They should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate.

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.

Has your vet told you your dog or cat needs an ECG? Our Stockton animal hospital offers various kinds of advanced tests, including ECGs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

New Patients Welcome

Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our compassionate vets are experienced in caring for Stockton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(209) 951-8911 Contact