An electrocardiogram (ECG) detects and records the electrical activity of the heart.  Small clips attach to your pet (one on each leg), and wires from these connect to the ecg machine.    The trace produced shows the heart rate and rhythm, and will be familiar to anyone who has seen hospital monitoring equipment.

The different electrodes detect electrical impulses coming from different directions within the heart. There are normal patterns for each electrode. Various heart disorders produce abnormal patterns.

The ecg will show us if the heart rate is very fast, very slow, or irregular.

There are various types of irregular heart rhythm with characteristic ECG patterns.

The ECG is normally done as part of a full cardiac workup, including physical examination, x-rays, ultrasound and blood tests, and usually when we have detected a heart problem.

An ecg is often performed prior to general anaesthesia if your pet has any history of heart disease, or a problem is detected in a preanaesthetic examination.

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Holter Monitoring

Holter monitoring is a valuable noninvasive tool for monitoring an animal’s cardiac rhythm for long periods during normal daily activities.

This test can detect arrhythmias that occur sporadically – eg those that are triggered by exercise or excitement. Standard ECGs can miss detecting the arrhythmia when it isn’t present all the time.

24 hour Holter Monitoring is a good way to detect heart problems that other tests may miss.    Small areas of hair are clipped either side of the chest to allow sticky electrodes to be attached to the skin.  Leads are then clipped onto these and connected to a recording unit which we snugly attach to the pet.   He is then free to carry on his day as normal while the monitor records every heart beat.

We then use special software to analyse the trace and determine what type of rhythm is present.

Holter monitoring is especially useful when animals show signs of weakness, fainting or collapse during exercise, and in breeds known to suffer from cardiomyopathies.

At the Vets is happy to take referrals from other clinics for holtering, or to send the unit on for your vet so they can obtain a recording (and send it on to us for analysis).  We use the Nemon DR200+ Digital unit which is very small and lightweight and simple to operate.

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