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Holter monitoring in dogs

What is a Holter?

Holter monitoring is a non-invasive method of assessing the heart's rhythm and rate. It is a 24-hour electrocardiogram (ECG) that is recorded while the animal is "wearing" a monitor. This permits an analysis of the rhythm and rate of the heart throughout the day and night of the dog with activities documented in a diary by the owner.

Main indications for Holter examination in dogs are:

· an arrhythmia is suspected in your pet

· weakness, dizziness, lethargy, excessive panting and agitation, or even collapse or fainting episodes

· to monitor antiarrhythmic therapy

· screening for the breeds in which specific forms of heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms exist

The monitor is usually worn for twenty-four hours during normal activity. Owner must keep a diary of what activities the dog does while wearing the monitor such as taking a walk, eating, sleeping, or playing.

A Holter monitor is typically used for patients with a history of syncope (fainting) or if abnormal or irregular heartbeats during a clinical examination are present.

Some of the uses include:

· determine heart rate variability during normal activity, exercise, and rest or sleep

· diagnose the type of arrhythmia (abnormal or irregular heartbeat or rhythm) in order to determine the correct treatment

· determine effectiveness of cardiac drugs

How does a dog wear a Holter monitor?

After clipping away some fur and cleansing the skin, several electrode patches are adhered to the skin over the right and left chest areas. The Holter monitor is a small digital unit with wires snapped onto the electrodes. It is then wrapped up with soft bandage materials around your pet’s ribcage. If an appropriately sized vest is available, pet is outfitted with a vest over the wrap. It is very unobtrusive, and most dogs ignore its presence very quickly.

What’s next?

After Holter monitor is removed from the dog, data containing ECG recording is downloaded for analysis. Careful reading of the ECG film is done, and abnormalities are reported. Results are then examined carefully, taking into account dog's activities and symptoms over the examination day (24h). It is very important for the owner to complete Holter 24h diary (precise hourly description of your pet's activities) as it aids the diagnosis and allows best treatment choice. Once the analysis is completed, accurate treatment plan can be done. It is very usual that Holter examination must be repeated after antiarrhythmic therapy has been started in order to assess treatment efficacy.

This relatively simple but highly effective device has saved countless human and animal lives since first introduced over sixty years ago.

It is non-invasive, simple and can provide invaluable information in order to diagnose heart rhythm abnormalities.


Contact us in case you need an advice or have any further questions:

HOLTER-monitor RENT for breeders: read more

If you suspect your pet may suffer from the heart disease it is best to get an opinion from veterinary cardiologist.

Frequent signs of the cardiac disease in dogs and cats are: increased respiratory rate, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, lowered activity level and cough.

It is not unusual that heart disease progresses silently, without any symptoms, until the disease is very advanced and difficult to control.


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