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Ultrasound for Dogs & Cats - A Pet Parents Guide

Ultrasound for Dogs & Cats - A Pet Parents Guide

What do ultrasound scans tell your veterinarian about your dog or cat's health? How can ultrasound imaging help your pet? Today's post delves into the many ways our Nashville vets can use this versatile diagnostic tool.

Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging

Our pets can develop all sorts of illnesses and conditions like tumors or cysts and get into things they shouldn't that may get lodged inside them. Ultrasounds are a kind of diagnostic imaging technology that transmits sound waves into your pet's body to produce a picture in real-time of an area of their body.

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.

Why does my pet need an ultrasound?

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

At Belle Forest Animal Hospital, ultrasounds are done in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Our team of veterinarians uses ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical issues, so we can provide your dog or cat with the most effective treatment possible.

What conditions can an ultrasound help with?

While ultrasound technology isn't always the right tool for every condition, there are a few health issues seen in dogs and cats that ultrasound can be particularly helpful in diagnosing and understanding the severity of.

Some of the conditions that our veterinarians use ultrasound imaging for include:

Heart Conditions

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 an ultrasound to get a better picture of your pet's internal organs (such as lymph nodes, kidneys, or bladder) to try and determine the cause of the issue. 

Examination of Soft Tissues

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:

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

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

How should I prepare for my dog or cat's ultrasound?

Ultrasounds performed on different areas of your pet's body require different kinds of preparation. Ask your veterinarian for instructions regarding your pet's ultrasound appointment. 

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

When will I get my pet's ultrasound results?

Since your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound in real-time, in many cases results are analyzed and discussed with pet parents immediately. However. in some cases, ultrasound images will be sent to a veterinary radiologist for a more detailed examination. If that is the case for your pet's ultrasound results, you may need to wait a few days before receiving the final diagnosis.

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.

Our Nashville vets offer ultrasound imaging to pinpoint the cause of symptoms and provide targeted treatment options.  Contact Belle Forest Animal Hospital today to learn more about ultrasound imaging for your dog or cat.

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Belle Forest Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Nashville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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