Additional diagnostic tests
Serum biochemistries, PCV/TS or complete blood count (CBC) panels, and urinalysis should be completed in all dogs prior to initiating any treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF).
NT-proBNP is a new blood test for cardiac disease in veterinary patients. NT-proBNP is released in proportion to stretch and stress in the heart and is used to assess the severity of heart disease.1,2 Patients in heart failure have significant elevations of NT-proBNP, adding useful diagnostic information in the evaluation of patients with compatible clinical signs. Studies have also shown that elevated NT-proBNP levels are seen in patients with impending heart failure and in those with a poorer prognosis.
Echocardiography and electrocardiograms
Echocardiography is useful in determining a definitive diagnosis of the underlying structural disease as it provides a quantitative evaluation of heart chamber size, wall thickness, and the dynamic changes that occur during the cardiac cycle.3
In addition, the electrocardiogram (ECG) is the only diagnostic method that provides specific information about the etiology of an arrhythmia.3 The ECG is a good follow-up test when a cardiac arrhythmia is discovered during a routine physical exam.4