It can be scary when a doctor recommends your pet get a veterinary ultrasound. However, this type of diagnostic imaging is essential for figuring out what type of ailment they have and how to successfully treat it. At Penny Paws Animal Clinic, we rely on pet ultrasounds to give your four-legged friend the best care possible.

Learn more about this type of treatment and how it can help you and your pet. This guide explains the top five things that all pet owners should know about veterinary ultrasounds.

What Is a Pet Ultrasound?

Veterinarians use pet ultrasounds to get images of your pet’s internal organs and tissue. They use a handheld probe that transmits sound waves to your pet. These sound waves appear on a connected machine as an image of their insides.

Veterinary staff primarily use this technology to diagnose certain health conditions or monitor your pet’s internal health. It is a simple, non-invasive procedure that can give us a clearer picture of what is going on with your pet’s organs and soft tissue.

Why Might Your Pet Need an Ultrasound?

Your dog or cat will likely need an ultrasound if it is pregnant. Veterinarians use this technology throughout the gestation period to track the health of the pregnant animal and its growing litter. Other times when this imaging is necessary include:

  • If your pet has a tumor or mass
  • If the pet ingests a foreign object
  • If doctors receive pet blood or urine tests with abnormal results

Your veterinarian will explain their reasoning for giving your pet an ultrasound and use it to either diagnose an issue or monitor their health. For example, a strange result on a urine test may lead a doctor to look further at your pet’s kidneys to make sure everything is fine. They can also use an ultrasound and biopsy to further examine a mass and test it for cancerous cells.

5 Things To Know About Pet Ultrasounds

Now that you have a greater understanding of what a pet ultrasound is and cases when your pet may need one, let’s dive into the top five things you should know about it. These facts will help you prepare for any future ultrasounds your pet may need.

1. They Are Non-Invasive

One of the best things about pet ultrasounds is that they provide real-time imaging without being invasive. Your dog or cat won’t feel any pain while the doctor performs the ultrasound. We may need to shave a small patch of fur in order to receive clear images, but this procedure is entirely safe and non-invasive.

Our doctors can give your pet an official diagnosis in real time when we look at ultrasound results. However, some abnormal images may need to be sent to a veterinary radiologist for further review. In this case, it may take a few days to receive a formal diagnosis.

2. Veterinarians Use Them To Assess Heart Conditions

If your dog or cat has a heart condition, your veterinarian will likely order a cardiac ultrasound, also known as an echocardiogram. The images that the ultrasound provides will determine the type of condition your pet has and whether it needs any medications. This type of ultrasound is more time-consuming since it requires a range of specific measurements that paint a picture of your pet’s heart health.

3. Pet Ultrasounds Examine Soft Tissue

Say your dog ingests a foreign object, like a small piece of jewelry. You may think they will need an X-ray to see where the jewelry is in its body. However, an ultrasound may provide a better answer.

X-rays only show the size and shape of the organs and tissue, whereas ultrasounds provide more information. A veterinarian can monitor your pet’s tendons, ligaments, thyroid glands, and more with a simple ultrasound.

Any abnormalities they find in the animal’s tissue will likely need further testing. Doctors can pull tissue samples during the ultrasound while using sedation to calm your pet. They may either use fine needle aspiration or perform ultrasound-guided biopsies. If your pet needs a biopsy, it’s far less invasive to do it via pet ultrasounds rather than surgically removing the mass.

4. The Cost Depends on the Type of Ultrasound Your Pet Needs

One of the most common questions pet owners ask about an ultrasound is, “How much does it cost?” The price ultimately depends on the type of ultrasound and the health situation. Giving a pregnant animal an ultrasound is not as detailed as performing an echocardiogram, so there will be a significant difference in cost between the two.

In addition, an emergency ultrasound will vary from an abdominal ultrasound. Consult with your veterinarian if you have concerns about the cost of this treatment. An experienced provider, like Penny Paws Animal Clinic, will work with you to make this treatment affordable.

5. Some Preparation Is Necessary

Depending on the reason for your pet’s ultrasound, you may need to follow some pre-care instructions. These can vary depending on the type of ultrasound and your pet’s condition.

For example, we’ll receive the best images on an ultrasound of the bladder when it is full. A doctor may ask that you keep your pet from urinating for three to six hours before their ultrasound to guarantee the bladder is full. An abdominal ultrasound may require your pet to fast for up to 12 hours in order to get clear images. Follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure everything goes smoothly.

One final part of preparing for a successful ultrasound is your pet’s cooperation. If they are anxious and squirmy, they may need slight sedation to get through the procedure.

Choose Penny Paws Animal Clinic for Top-Notch Veterinary Care in Texas

Whether you need to schedule pet ultrasounds or routine examinations, Penny Paws Animal Clinic is your trusted veterinary team in Texas. Our doctors and technicians care for your animals as much as you do, and we’ll do everything in our power to keep them healthy. Contact any of our locations, including our mobile clinics, to schedule routine or emergency appointments.