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Ultrasound for Pets - A Pet Parent's Guide

Your veterinarian is recommending that your pet have an ultrasound scan, but how can it help your four-legged friend? In today's post you will find information on the kinds of conditions these tests can help detect and how to prepare for your cat or dog's ultrasound.

Reasons For an Ultrasound for Dogs or Cats

Pets can develop all sorts of conditions and illnesses in the course of their lives, such as tumors and cysts, or they may even get something lodged inside their body that they shouldn't have eaten. If this happens with your pet, your veterinarian may recommend an ultrasound.

Ultrasounds are a diagnostic imaging technology that transmits sound waves into your pet's body in order to produce a picture of the their internal structures in real time.

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.

An ultrasound can help our Tucson vets examine the structure of your pet’s organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors or other problems.

At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, our ultrasounds are conducted in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Our team of veterinarians uses ultrasounds, in addition to other diagnostic imaging procedures, to provide your pet with the most effective treatment possible.

Conditions That May Require An Ultrasound

Heart Conditions

If your cat or dog has been diagnosed with a heart condition, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist for heart ultrasound imaging or echocardiograms to help evaluate your companion's condition and their heart's function. 

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If your veterinarian discovers any anomalies or abnormalities in your pet's urine tests or blood samples, they may recommend that your companion get an ultrasound so that they can gather more detailed information regarding the health of your pet's internal organs including lymph nodes, kidneys, bladder and more. 

Examination of Soft Tissues

Nearly all kinds of soft tissue can be assessed in detail thanks to ultrasound imaging technology. Some of the most common areas examined using ultrasound include:

  • Tendons
  • Eyes
  • Thyroid glands
  • Ligaments
  • Fetal viability and development

If abnormal tissue is spotted during an ultrasound, the vet may also use the ultrasound to help collect tissue samples from the affected area.

How To Prepare Your Pet for an Ultrasound

Ultrasounds that are performed on different areas of your pet's body will require different kinds of preparation. Ask your veterinarian about the specific things you should do to help prepare your dog or cat for their ultrasound.

You may need to stop your pet from eating and drinking for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure, in particular before abdominal ultrasounds. Your vet will be able to best examine your pet's bladder when it is full so for ultrasounds of that organ, you should ideally try to prevent your cat or dog from urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure.  

The area that is slated for imaging may need to be shaved so that clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain cooperative and still during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated. 

If, after an ultrasound, biopsies need to be conducted, your pet will require a heavy sedative to anesthetic to help them relax and prevent complications. Your vet will be sure to let you know if that is necessary. 

Getting Your Pet's Ultrasound Results

Since veterinarians can perform ultrasounds in real time, they are typically able to share the results of their diagnostics immediately with you. Although it's important to note that, in some cases, images captured through ultrasound will have to be sent to a veterinary specialist (radiologist) for review after they have been collected. 

In these instances, you may have to wait a few days before the final result is decided upon and your pet's course of treatment can be planned.

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.

At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson we offer advanced radiology services for pets with more complex health issues. Contact our Tucson vets today to learn more.

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Our board-certified critical care specialists and skilled emergency veterinarians are here for you and your pet. If your dog or cat needs emergency care, get in touch with us right away.

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