Tools of the trade: Veterinary Heart Monitor (ECG)

portable ECG

by Dr Nick Hobson, Jonora Animal Hospital, Kurrajong, NSW

This is a small ECG unit that fits onto an iPhone or Android device. It allows you to do an ECG instantaneously on any animal you wish.

What’s good about it

There are no clips, pads or wires. It’s simply placed on the chest of the animal and it starts taking a reading. The ECG trace can be sent straight to your clinical records via the email on your phone. It’s essentially a case that fits onto a smartphone with two contacts on the back. You just need to download an app to make it work. It’s a very good, simple piece of kit.

If a dog has a long coat, you may need to take off a little fur to get a reading. However, for the vast majority of dogs, you don’t need to do anything at all. Just hold it against their chest and away you go. It’s very good at not picking up interference and providing you with an excellent trace.

It records the results and saves them as a PDF. Then you can just email that to anyone you like. It actually comes with a direct link to the manufacturer, AliveCor, who will have a cardiologist look at the trace if you think there is anything unusual.

This unit has been a game changer for me. There’s no need to go through all the hassle of getting an animal in for an appointment and setting up an ECG to get a trace going. I just do it on the spot.

What’s not so good

This model is only designed to fit iPhone 4s and 5s. I’m ready to update, and newer versions are available but I’m hanging on to my old iPhone until it dies.

Where did you get it

I purchased mine from Blackmores (

The new version, KardiaMobile, is available from Alive Technologies.

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