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Ultrasound for Dogs & Cats: What Pet Owners Want to Know

Ultrasound has become increasingly important in veterinary medicine for the health of our pets. Whether you have a dog or a cat, understanding what an ultrasound entails, when it's needed, and how to prepare your pet is essential. In this blog post, we'll cover everything pet owners need to know about ultrasounds for dogs and cats.

What is an ultrasound used for?

Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique that allows veterinarians to visualize the internal structures of your pet's body in real time. It's particularly useful for examining soft tissues and organs like the liver, kidneys, heart, and bladder. This diagnostic tool is often used to:

  • Detect and monitor tumors or masses
  • Evaluate the heart and diagnose conditions like cardiomyopathy
  • Examine the abdominal organs for abnormalities or diseases
  • Diagnose conditions such as pancreatitis or kidney disease
  • Guide needle biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures

Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound

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

At Altas Palmas Animal Clinic, ultrasounds are done in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Our veterinarians use ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to diagnose your pet’s medical issues accurately so we can provide your pet with the most effective treatment possible.

What is an ultrasound machine, and is there radiation?

An ultrasound machine uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your pet's inside. These sound waves are emitted by a handheld device called a transducer, which is moved over the area of interest.

The sound waves bounce off tissues and organs and are then converted into images on a screen. Ultrasound does not use radiation, making it a safe option for regular monitoring and diagnostic purposes.

What diseases require ultrasound examination?

Several diseases and conditions may prompt your veterinarian to order an ultrasound for your pet. Some common ones include:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Bladder stones or tumors
  • Pancreatitis
  • Abdominal masses or tumors
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as foreign body ingestion or intussusception

How To Prepare Your Dog or Cat for Their Ultrasound

Remember that different areas of your pet's body may require different preparation for ultrasounds. Ask your vet for specific instructions on preparing your pet for their ultrasound.

For abdominal ultrasounds, your pet may need to fast for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure. If your pet has a bladder ultrasound, try to prevent them from urinating for 3 to 6 hours beforehand, as a full bladder helps with the examination.

The area to be examined will likely be shaved to produce clear images. While most pets will remain still during the ultrasound, some may need to be sedated to help them cooperate.

If biopsies are necessary after the ultrasound, your pet will require heavy sedation or anesthesia to prevent complications. Your vet will provide you with detailed information if this is needed.

Is Anesthesia required during an ultrasound examination?

In most cases, anesthesia is not required for an ultrasound examination. The procedure is non-invasive and typically does not cause discomfort. However, if your pet is anxious or in pain, your veterinarian might administer a mild sedative to help them relax during the examination.

Instant Ultrasound Results For a Fast Diagnosis

After the ultrasound examination, your veterinarian will review the images and discuss the findings with you. Depending on the results, further testing or treatment may be recommended. This could include blood tests, additional imaging, surgery, or medication. Your veterinarian will guide you through the following steps to ensure your pet receives the best care.

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.

Does your dog require emergency care? Our vets are available 24/7 at Harlingen.

Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at Altas Palmas Animal Clinic are now accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about keeping the cats and dogs of Harlingen happy and healthy. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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