Has your vet recommended an ultrasound for your pet and you're wondering what that may involve and why it is necessary? Today, our Bellevue vets discuss what pet owners should know about ultrasounds for cats and dogs.
Ultrasounds for Dogs & Cats
Our pets can develop all sorts of illnesses and conditions like tumors or cysts, or even eat things they shouldn't that can get lodged inside them. Ultrasounds are a kind of diagnostic imaging technology that sends sound waves into your dog or cat's body to produce a picture in real-time of an area of their body.
Veterinary ultrasounds are fast, non-invasive, and can be used to diagnose or evaluate several issues with your pet's internal organs or to check on your pet's pregnancy.
Reasons for an Ultrasound
An ultrasound can help our Bellevue vets examine the structure of your pet’s organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors, or other problems.
At Aerowood Animal Hospital, ultrasounds are done in our in-house veterinary diagnostic lab. Our team of veterinary specialists uses ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical issues, so we can provide your pet with the most effective treatment possible.
Types of Ultrasounds
Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:
If your pet is experiencing an emergency, the ultrasound will usually focus on the abdomen and chest to quickly learn whether your dog or cat 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.
Also referred to as cardiac ultrasounds, with these detailed ultrasounds we can closely assess the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. This will tell us whether the heart is functioning properly and whether there is a malfunction in the heart. Though they are usually painless, echocardiograms require several measurements and calculations.
If your pet was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur or is displaying signs of heart disease, they may be referred to our specialists for an echocardiogram. Once we identify an abnormal part of an organ, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy allows us to take a tissue sample, which can be inspected with a microscope to reveal more information. In many cases, this will result in a diagnosis.
Conditions That Require an Ultrasound
If your dog or cat has been diagnosed with a heart condition, your vet may refer you to a specialist for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram to help evaluate the condition and function of your pet's heart and to search for any abnormalities.
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 gets an ultrasound to gain a better picture of their internal organs like their lymph nodes, kidneys, bladder, and more to try and identify what is causing the issue.
Diagnostic Imaging of Soft Tissue
Almost all kinds of soft tissue can be examined in detail thanks to ultrasound imaging technology. Some of the most common areas examined using ultrasound 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 & Biopsies
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.
Preparing Your Pet for an Ultrasound
Ultrasounds performed on different areas of your pet's body require different kinds of preparation. Ask your vets for the specific things you need to do to help prepare your pet 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 not have your cat or dog urinate for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure.
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 a biopsy must be conducted following an ultrasound, your pet will require a heavy sedative to help them relax and prevent complications. Your vet will be sure to let you know if the is necessary.
Instant Ultrasound Results for a Fast Diagnosis
Since your vets can perform an ultrasound in real-time, they will get the results immediately. In some instances, images taken through ultrasound will have to be sent to a veterinary radiologist after they have been taken for examination. In cases like that, you may need to wait a few days before the final result is decided.
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.