Heart Ultrasound (Echocardiography)

CVCA utilizes premium level echocardiography with the latest technology available in human pediatric equipment. The image quality, quantification, and extensive training of our cardiologists allow for quicker, more accurate diagnosis, which can translate to earlier detection and treatment for your patients. We encourage clients to remain with their pets throughout this procedure, which is performed by the cardiologist. This helps to calm the patient, as well as to inform the owner in real time about our findings and what they mean to your pet. The echocardiogram is a noninvasive diagnostic tool with excellent diagnostic capabilities when properly performed.

What is it?

  • Gold standard test for pets with heart problems
  • Done from the outside of the pet
  • Uses sound waves to create clear images of all parts of the heart

Who does it?

  • Cardiologist themselves perform and interpret this test (over 31,000/year)
  • Owners are present for the whole test and see the images in real time

How long does it take to get the results?

  • 0 -15 minutes
  • Results are analyzed and a treatment plan is discussed right away due the training and board certification of our cardiologists and residents.

Patients are not typically shaved for echocardiograms. Alcohol and ultrasound gel are applied to the fur on each side of the chest as the pet lies on his or her side. Many measurements are taken during the procedure and analyzed to give you the results right away so that treatment can be started immediately.


X-Rays (Radiography)

Thoracic radiography is a time-honored diagnostic tool, predating the echocardiogram. Radiographs provide an overall impression of cardiac size and shape, and most importantly, allow for evaluation of the lungs. The echocardiogram has widely replaced radiographs for evaluation of cardiac size and shape. However, radiographs are still the primary way to evaluate the lungs, as the air within the lungs will interfere with the ultrasound, but not hamper radiography.

  • Are done to look for problems with the pets’ lungs
  • Will give an outline of the heart’s shape
  • Helps check for reasons that dogs or cats are coughing
  • May be done with CVCA or with your primary care vet

Thoracic radiograph revealing Amplatz ductal occluder
Thoracic radiograph revealing Amplatz ductal occluder
device after successful deployment.


What is it?

  •  A video x-ray or moving radiograph to see the heart moving in real time
  • Requires general anesthesia in pets
  • Essential diagnostic tool to define congenital heart defects, place pacemakers and perform other procedures, such as balloon dilation of narrowed valves, and placement of a device to cure specific heart defects(ductal occluder for patent ductus arteriosus).

Who does it?

  • A team of cardiologists along with several veterinary technicians.
  • Usually performed at the same time as an interventional procedure as noted above.

How long does it take to get results?

  • 2-6 hours
  • Length of the procedure varies with the type of the procedure and complexity – the cardiologist will review with you how long they expect the procedure to last.  
  • Results are analyzed real-time during the procedure
  • The family is updated when the procedure is starting and immediately after the procedure with the results and outcome..


Electrocardiography (ECG)

What is it?

  • Way to record electrical activity of heart
  • Non-invasive

Why do it?

  • To diagnose problems with the rhythm of the heart

Who does it?

  • Cardiologist or primary care veterinarian
  • If an ECG is needed for your pet, we will perform it during the appointment – owners are present to keep the patient calm.
  • If your primary care veterinarian has performed an ECG, please bring a copy to your appointment.

How long does it take to get the results?

  • 1-5 minutes
  • The cardiologist will  analyze the results and create a treatment plan during your appointment based on their advanced training.