Have you received news that your dog requires an ultrasound and you are unsure about the procedure? In this post, our Merced vets share what pet owners should know about ultrasound exams for dogs.
Pets can commonly develop health issues such as cysts or tumors that require medical treatment, or they may accidentally ingest harmful substances. In such cases, a veterinarian may recommend an ultrasound to assess the problem and determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.
An ultrasound is a type of imaging technology that uses sound waves to create an image of a specific area of your pet's body. This non-invasive procedure can be used to diagnose or evaluate internal organ problems or monitor pregnancy in animals.
Why Your Pet May Need an Ultrasound
Our veterinary team at Santa Fe Pet Hospital offers ultrasounds at our in-house diagnostic laboratory in Merced. This procedure enables us to examine your pet's internal organs and identify any obstructions, tumors, or other medical concerns accurately. Our experienced veterinarians use a combination of ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to deliver the most effective treatment for your beloved pet.
Ultrasounds can detect the presence of foreign bodies or fluid in soft tissue masses, a task that may be challenging with a digital X-ray. The procedure is completely safe and painless for your furry friend as it only involves the use of harmless sound waves. Trust us to provide the most reliable and comprehensive care for your pet's health.
Conditions That May Require an Ultrasound
Here are some conditions that commonly require veterinary ultrasounds.
Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results
Did your veterinarian discover any irregularities in your pet's blood or urine tests? If so, they might suggest an abdominal ultrasound to accurately assess your pet's internal organs, including the kidneys, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, urinary bladder, or other areas. This diagnostic test can help determine the underlying cause of the abnormalities.
If your beloved pet has been diagnosed with a heart condition, it may be essential to perform a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram. This will assist in evaluating your furry friend's heart health and detecting any possible irregularities.
Examination of Soft Tissues
Almost all soft tissues can be examined using ultrasound technology. Some of the most common areas that ultrasounds are used to check include:
- Fetal vitality and development
- Thyroid glands
If abnormal tissue is detected during an ultrasound, your veterinarian may also use this imaging technology to help collect tissue samples from the area that's been affected.
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.
Types of Ultrasounds
Your veterinarian may conduct two types of ultrasounds or recommend a veterinary specialist to carry out the examinations.
If your pet is experiencing an emergency, the ultrasound will usually focus on the abdomen and chest to quickly learn whether your dog 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.
Detailed ultrasounds, also known as cardiac ultrasounds, can provide a close assessment of the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. This helps determine if the heart is functioning properly or if there is a malfunction. While echocardiograms are generally painless, they do require several measurements and calculations.
If your pet has been diagnosed with a heart murmur or displays signs of heart disease, they may need to see our specialists for an echocardiogram. If an abnormal part of an organ is identified, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy can provide valuable information when inspected under a microscope and in many cases, lead to a diagnosis.
Preparing Your Pet for an Ultrasound
Ultrasounds on different areas of the body require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for their ultrasound.
You may be required to withhold food and water for between 8 and 12 hours, particularly for abdominal ultrasounds. We can best examine the urinary bladder when it is full of urine. This is why your dog should not urinate for about 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.
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 biopsies need to be done, your pet will need a heavy sedative or short-acting anesthetic to help them relax during the procedure and prevent potential complications that could impede success. Your veterinarian will let you know if this is necessary.
Your Pet's Ultrasound Results
Our veterinary team is equipped to perform real-time ultrasounds for pets, providing almost immediate results. However, in certain instances, ultrasound images may require further consultation with a veterinary radiologist, which could lead to a brief waiting period of a few days for the final result.
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.