Electrocardiography is a useful tool for monitoring all patients during the perioperative period to determine heart rate, the presence of arrhythmias and conduction defects. It may be argued that routine monitoring of an electrocardiogram (ECG) of a healthy patient is unnecessary; however, unexpected, more malignant arrhythmias – some of which can be life threatening – may be present and would remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated if the ECG was not monitored. This article describes how to interpret abnormal ECG rhythms in healthy and sick dogs and cats, and considers conditions in which it is advised to monitor the ECG in the perioperative period. An understanding of common ECG abnormalities can assist practitioners when planning a patient's treatment perioperatively.
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