As pet owners, we always want the best for our furry companions, especially when it comes to their health. Advances in veterinary medicine have introduced us to various diagnostic tools, with one of the most significant being ultrasound technology. Our San Diego vets explain how our in-house veterinary diagnostic lab performs ultrasound scans on pets. 

What is ultrasound for pets?

An ultrasound machine is a medical device that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. This technology is widely used in both human and veterinary medicine to visualize internal organs, tissues, and blood flow, allowing for accurate diagnosis and monitoring of various medical conditions  

Is there radiation involved in an ultrasound?

No, there is no radiation involved in an ultrasound procedure. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, which use ionizing radiation to create images, ultrasounds rely solely on sound waves. This makes ultrasound a safer option, especially for repeated use and for examining sensitive areas such as the abdomen and the heart.

Why might Your pet need an ultrasound?

There are several reasons why your veterinarian might recommend an ultrasound for pets. Some common reasons include:

  • Abdominal issues: If your dog or cat has been experiencing unexplained abdominal pain, vomiting, or changes in appetite, an ultrasound can help identify issues such as tumors, kidney stones, or liver disease.
  • Heart conditions: Ultrasounds are crucial for diagnosing and monitoring heart diseases in pets. This procedure, known as an echocardiogram, allows veterinarians to visualize the heart’s structure and function.
  • Reproductive health: Ultrasounds can confirm pregnancies and monitor fetal development in dogs and cats for breeding purposes.
  • Bladder problems: If your pet shows signs of urinary issues, an ultrasound can help detect bladder stones, tumors, or other abnormalities.

Examination of Soft Tissues

Almost all soft tissues can be examined thanks to ultrasound technology. A few of the most common areas that ultrasounds are used on include:

  • Ligaments
  • Eyes
  • Fetal viability and development
  • Tendons
  • 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.

How To Prepare Your Pet for an Ultrasound

As advised by your vet, please follow the specific preparation instructions for ultrasounds on different areas of your pet.

For abdominal ultrasounds, your pet may need to fast (no food or water) for 8 to 12 hours. It's important to ensure that the urinary bladder is full, so try to prevent your pet from urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.

The fur will be shaved in the area to be examined to obtain clear images. While most pets remain still during the ultrasound, some may require sedation.

If biopsies are needed, your pet will be given a heavy sedative or short-acting anesthetic to relax during the procedure. Your vet will advise if this is necessary to prevent potential complications.

Benefits of Ultrasound for Dogs and Cats

Ultrasound for pets offers several advantages:

  • Non-Invasive: It’s a safe, non-surgical method to obtain detailed images of your pet’s internal organs.
  • Painless: Most pets tolerate the procedure well without the need for sedation.
  • Quick Results: In many cases, veterinarians can diagnose the issue during the ultrasound, allowing for faster treatment decisions.

Getting Your Pet's Ultrasound Results

Pet ultrasounds are an invaluable resource in veterinary diagnostics, providing critical insights into the health of our beloved dogs and cats. By understanding the process and benefits of ultrasound for dogs and ultrasound for cats, pet owners can feel more confident in the care and medical decisions for their pets. If your vet recommends an ultrasound, rest assured that it is a step towards ensuring your pet’s well-being and health.

Consult with your veterinarian for any specific concerns or to learn more about how ultrasounds can help your pet. Your pet’s health and happiness are always worth the best care available.

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.

If your cat or dog is not feeling well, you can always consult the veterinary clinic in San Diego. We provide services 24/7.