The gold standard test for investigating a heart murmur is echocardiography. This may also be called an 'echo' or a 'heart scan'. This is where ultrasound is used to look at the internal heart structures and movement of the valves. Doppler echo can directly show the movement of blood within the heart chambers and great vessels, and helps to assess all aspects of heart function.
Echo is the only way to determine the exact cause of your pet's murmur. It also helps us to assess the severity of heart disease, what the best treatments will be, and your pet’s prognosis. We use it to monitor your pet’s response to treatment.
Echo is a completely non-invasive and safe test, and most pets do not need any sedation for it.
Your vet may also recommend radiography of the chest (chest x-ray). This is useful to assess the lungs, the blood vessels in the chest, and the overall size and position of the heart. Radiography can help determine whether your pet is in congestive heart failure or not. Mild sedation may be necessary for this test; your vet can advise.