What is echocardiography?

Echocardiography is the use of ultrasound waves to evaluate the internal structures of the heart and the flow of blood through the valves and chambers.

How is an echo different from an x-ray?

While x-rays use a radiograph machine, echos use an ultrasound machine. An x-ray provides information about various parts of the body, while an echo is specific to the heart. It also allows us to watch the movement of how the parts of the heart work and where the blood is going !

What animals should have an echo?

If your pet is diagnosed with a heart murmur, enlarged heart, or an elevated BNP (a new blood test to detect early heart disease) it can benefit from an echo to determine if the murmur is due to significant heart disease. Breeds most commonly at risk for heart disease are:

  • dogs – Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dobermans, Boxers
  • cats – Sphynx, Bengals, Maine Coons

These are some of the breeds that should be screened regularly to be able to identify any heart disease as early as possible. Also animals with pre-existing heart disease should be monitored to evaluate progression of their disease.

I think my pet needs an echocardiogram, who should I book it with?

Any doctor at Parkway Small Animal and Exotic Hospital can help decide whether an echo is necessary for your pet.

Your pets echo appointment should then be set up with Dr. Knapp. While, not a board certified cardiologist, he has been performing echoes at Parkway for over a decade. He has taken all the advanced echocardiography courses offered by the Sound Eklin Academy of Veterinary Imaging in Arlington, Texas. He strives to keep up with changing trends in veterinary cardiology and maintains relationships with veterinary cardiologists to consult on unusual or difficult cases.

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