Electrocardiogram for Dogs

An electrocardiogram (ECG, or EKG, using the German spelling) is a recording of the electrical impulses that are generated when the heart is beating. When any irregular heart rhythm is detected on clinical examination, an electrocardiogram should be performed. The small electrical impulses normally generated by the heart are amplified 3,000 or more times and recorded by the ECG machine. An ECG can detect minor disturbances in the heartbeat or heart rhythm and allow your veterinarian to diagnose many types of heart disease.

electrocardiogram-1_2009An ECG is a simple, non-invasive test to perform. Your pet is usually placed in a standing or lying position and electrodes are attached to the elbows and knees. A conducting gel or liquid is applied to improve electrical conduction between the dog's skin and the electrodes. The ECG machine merely records the electrical impulses from the dog. There are no unpleasant sensations nor is there any danger to the pet.

In some cases a more prolonged ECG examination is required. If this is necessary, a monitor called a Holter Monitor or Recorder will be used. This monitor consists of a small pack that the dog wears for 24-72 hours, and records all heart activity during this time. This is a technique that is commonly used to precisely diagnose the reason for intermittent collapse in dogs with abnormal heart rhythm.

Often an ECG examination is combined with chest radiographs (x-rays) or ultrasound examination of the heart (echocardiography).  ECG analysis is a safe, simple test that provides your veterinarian with valuable information about your pet's health.

Related Tags

electrocardiogram, monitor, electrodes, echocardiography, ultrasound, radiographs, x-rays

Looking to learn more?

We also offer free, instant access to over 1,500 related articles on your pet's health including preventive medicine, common and not so common diseases, and even informative case studies. We encourage you to read any of these popular articles below or search our extensive pet health library.

Most Popular Articles

About our approach to exceptional pet health care

At VCA Animal Hospitals, our veterinarians take you and your pet's health seriously. With over 600 hospitals and 1,800 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, we strive to give your pet the very best in medical care. We understand your pet is an extension of you, and appreciate the opportunity to share in providing exceptional pet care and quality of life.

* Free initial health exam for new clients only. Not to be combined with any other offer. Not good toward boarding, grooming, prescription and non-prescription medication, and retail items. Not good toward emergency and/or specialty veterinary services. Coupon good for up to two pets (dogs or cats only) per household. Redeemable only at a general practice VCA Animal Hospital. For pet owners who are aged 18 and older.

If you are a new client, you can get a free first exam* on your first visit.

Free First Exam

Get to know us by visiting one of our neighborhood hospitals.

Locate a Hospital