You've just found out that your dog or cat needs an ultrasound. So, what exactly is an ultrasound and how can it help your pet? Our Tigard vets explain how ultrasound scans are performed on pets in our in-house veterinary diagnostic lab.
Our pets often get into things they shouldn’t or develop health issues, such as cysts or tumors, that need treatment. Ultrasounds are a form of imaging technology that transmits sound waves into your pet’s body to produce a 'picture' of a specific part.
Veterinary ultrasounds are non-invasive and can be used to diagnose or evaluate problems with your pet's internal organs or check on your pet's pregnancy.
Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound
An ultrasound can help our Huntersville Internal Medicine vets examine the structure of your pet’s organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors, or other problems.
At Cascade Veterinary Referral Center, we do ultrasounds in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Our team of specialists uses ultrasounds, and other diagnostic tools, to try and provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical issues. Thus helps us provide your pet with the most effective treatment possible.
Through the use of ultrasound, we can distinguish soft tissue masses from foreign bodies or fluid - a task we might find challenging or impossible to accomplish with a digital x-ray. The sound waves the ultrasound generates are not harmful or painful to your cat or dog.
Conditions That May Require An Ultrasound
The following are some of the most common conditions that might require an ultrasound.
If your pet has a heart condition, your primary care veterinarian may refer you to our specialists for a heart ultrasound to evaluate the overall condition of your pet's heart, and to look for abnormalities.
Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results
If your veterinarian discovers abnormalities in your pet’s blood or urine tests, they may recommend an abdominal ultrasound to get a clear picture of your pet's internal organs, such as their lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys, liver, urinary bladder, or other areas.
Examination of Soft Tissues
Almost all soft tissues can be examined thanks to ultrasounds. A few of the most common areas include:
- Fetal viability and development
- Thyroid glands
If abnormal tissue is spotted during an ultrasound, the vet may also use the ultrasound to help collect tissue samples from the affected area.
Ultrasound-Assisted Tissue Collection
Samples are typically collected using these methods:
- Tru-Cut biopsies
- Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration
If your vet will be performing an ultrasound-assisted tissue collection, your pet will likely be sedated. We can perform biopsies in a less invasive manner with ultrasounds than with surgeries.
If your pet is having an emergency, the ultrasound will usually focus on the abdomen and chest to learn whether your pet has a serious internal hemorrhage (bleeding) or pneumothorax (a condition in which gas or air collects in the space surrounding the lungs).
This can assist us in diagnosing the issue quickly. We can then plan effective treatment.
How To Prepare Your Pet for an Ultrasound
Ultrasounds in different areas require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for its ultrasound.
You might need to stop feeding your pet or giving them water for about 8 and 12 hours before the ultrasound, particularly for abdominal ultrasounds. We can examine the urinary bladder better this way. Your cat or dog should not urinate for about 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.
The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated.
If biopsies need to be done, your pet will need a heavy sedative or short-acting anesthetic to help them relax during the procedure and prevent potential complications that could impede success. Your veterinarian will let you know if this is necessary.
Getting Your Pet's Ultrasound Results
Because our veterinarians can perform an ultrasound in real-time, we can see results almost immediately. In some cases, ultrasound images will be sent to a veterinary radiologist after they're captured for further review. In these cases, you may need to wait a few days for the final results.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.