Radiographs, or X-rays, are one of the most common and useful diagnostic tools in medicine. Dr. Johnson and the veterinary team at North Shore Veterinary Clinic uses X-rays to examine your pet's bones, lungs, heart, abdomen, oral cavity and other areas and for diagnosing and monitoring many medical and surgical conditions.


Ultrasonography, or ultrasound, is a painless and safe imaging technique that allows us to see a real-time moving picture of your pet's organs. We use it to look for abnormalities in your pet's abdomen, including masses, lesions, nodules and possible tumors, that can't be seen by X-rays alone. We can also analyze blood flow within any organ or blood vessel in the abdomen or elsewhere in the body, image dermal and sub-dermal masses, as a guide during surgical biopsies, and to diagnose pregnancy.

The ultrasound procedure takes between 30 to 60 minutes to perform and, unless it is being used during a surgical biopsy, does not typically require sedation. A diagnosis based on what we see is usually available immediately, which means we can also provide you with treatment options at the time of your appointment and minimize your worry and stress.


An echocardiogram is a safe, noninvasive procedure that uses ultrasound to examine the heart. It is the most complete and thorough diagnostic procedure to analyze the heart available in modern medicine.

We have the latest and most advanced echocardiogram/ultrasound machines available at North Shore Veterinary Clinic, and Dr. Johnson has been performing echocardiograms for more than 26 years.

Why Would My Pet Need An Echocardiograph?

Your pet may need an echocardiogram for many different reasons, but the most important reason is simple: your veterinarian believes something is abnormal about your pet's heart. The cause may be the heart itself, or something else causing the heart to function improperly. Either way, your veterinarian needs to understand precisely the condition of your pet's heart. That is why he/she recommended seeing Dr. Johnson, a Veterinary Internist (Dip. ACVIM) with more than 25 years of experience practicing cardiac medicine.

Veterinarians can (and do) learn quite a bit about the status of the heart by auscultation (listening with a stethoscope). In fact, this is the easiest, quickest method to determine any simple abnormalities in the heart. By listening to the sounds of the heart, they can detect murmurs, arrhythmias and occasional irregular beats, and heart rates. However, the human ear is not perfect and many cardiac problems do not change the heart sounds in an obvious manner. Instead, we can employ other more sophisticated diagnostic techniques to learn more about your pet's heart, including an EKG (or ECG), an echocardiograph, thoracic radiographs (x-rays of the chest), and echocardiography - all of which Dr. Johnson can use to diagnose your pet's condition.

Pet DiagnosticsWhat Can We Learn From An Echocardiograph?

An echocardiogram can teach us many things about your pet's heart. This information gives a complete picture about how the heart functions. Although Dr. Johnson will use these details to make a diagnosis, the technical specifics an echocardiogram provides about your pet's heart are as follows:

  • Overall size and shape of the heart
  • Size and shape of the atria and ventricles
  • Heart rate
  • Thickness of the atrial, ventricular, and septal walls and of the specific valves in the heart
  • Presence (including size and shape) of cardiac masses (i.e. possible tumors)
  • Blood flow through the entire heart including its magnitude and direction
  • Sounds of the heart from any point
  • Relative tissue density
  • Pressures within heart chambers and vessels
  • Arrhythmias and irregular beats
  • Size, shape, and efficiency of heart valves
  • Presence or absence of fluid in the pericardium (the sack containing the heart) and the surrounding thoracic cavity (interior of the chest).
  • Electrical activity within the heart (by attaching an ECG).

We may also X-ray your pet's heart in conjunction with performing an echocardiograph because a radiograph much more clearly shows the cardiac silhouette (the heart's external shape), and associated lung issues. Often, cardiac patients have problems with the lungs as well as the heart.

How Do You Conduct An Echocardiogram?

Unlike people, pets obviously have a fair amount of hair. We must clip a small amount of hair on each side of your pet's body over the heart. Otherwise this hair will interfere with the ultrasound and result in poor diagnostic imaging. Two technicians will ensure your pet's comfort while Dr. Johnson conducts the procedure, which takes approximately 60 minutes.

What Are Common Heart Problems?

Common cardiac problems in pets include:

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Mitral Valve Insufficiency
  • Hypertrophic and Dilated Cardiomyopathy
  • Ventricular and Atrial Septal Defect
  • Pulmonic Stenosis
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus


Endoscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure commonly used to evaluate the interior surfaces of your pet's intestinal tract. An endoscopic examination can often accurately diagnose what is causing your pet's vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain or swelling, loss of appetite or respiratory problems. It can also be used to collect biopsy samples and remove foreign objects, small polyps or tumors.

Although anesthesia is required to keep pets still during the endoscopic procedure, the recovery time is minimal. The benefits of endoscopy over exploratory surgery include no surgical incision, shortened anesthetic time, decreased inflammation, less stress and discomfort and an earlier return to normal function for your pet.

Veterinary Laboratory testingAccurate diagnosis of your pet's symptoms begins with our ability to put together as complete and accurate a picture of what is going on inside your pet's body as possible. For that reason, endoscopy is recommended when routine blood and urine tests, radiographs and ultrasound do not give us the complete diagnostic picture.

Diagnostic Laboratory

When performing routine wellness examinations or diagnosing an illness, what our veterinarians can't see is as important, if not more important, than what they can.

Because protecting your pet's health is our most important job, we have a commercial diagnostic laboratory that allows us to perform a wide range of tests on blood, urine, feces and biopsied tissue. Laboratory testing can provide information about your pet's overall systemic health as well as detect diseases and other conditions affecting your pet's health and well-being without the need for invasive and expensive procedures. Diagnostic laboratory testing is also completed prior to dental or surgical procedures that require general anesthesia.

A quality commercial laboratory allows us to do more tests at lower fees, has better quality control (more accurate) than in-house testing, and we have a special arrangement so that results are back by 8 am the next day and morning samples are usually returned by late afternoon.

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