An echocardiogram is an ultrasound image of the heart and associated large blood vessels. Echocardiography is a non-invasive test that allows a cardiologist to directly evaluate the anatomy and function of the heart. The examination is performed with the pet lying on a padded table. Most animals do not require sedation (tranquilizers) but some are more relaxed if these are used. A specific form of echocardiography called Doppler allows the cardiologist to look specifically at blood flow which helps to identify leaks in the heart valves, abnormal movement of blood between the left and right sides of the heart, and obstructions to normal blood flow.
Echocardiography is used for diagnosis of nearly all heart diseases such as valve abnormalities (Chronic Valvular Disease), heart dilation (Dilated Cardiomyopathy), heart muscle thickening (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy), congenital diseases (Patent Ductus Arteriosus), heart tumors, and most other heart problems.