While it would be nice if vets were able to look at a pet patient and know right away what their health problem is, life doesn’t really work that way. Just as your doctor needs to run tests in order to arrive at a diagnosis, so do we.

There are many diagnostic tools and tests that we utilize on a daily basis in order to diagnose and help our furry wards. Ultrasound for pets is perhaps one of the most valuable tools that we have at our disposal. Read on to learn what ultrasound is and how we are using it to benefit our pet patients every day.

Ultrasound Explained

An ultrasound is a way for us to get a good look at your pet’s insides without having to surgically open the patient.

Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves (don’t worry, neither you nor your pet are able to hear them) to create a live image from inside the body. A probe is used to apply gentle pressure against the skin to see a targeted area on the inside. If you’ve ever had an ultrasound when pregnant, you’re familiar with the process.

An ultrasound is:

  • Noninvasive
  • Painless
  • Relatively quick
  • Without side effects

In general, we do need to shave the area of the pet being examined, but a bad haircut is a small price to pay for the wealth of information we are about to gain. The hair will typically grow back in 3-4 weeks, and one of our experienced groomers can help your pet get back to looking his or her best.

Depending on the pet and what type of image we are trying to obtain, some light sedation might be necessary.

How We Use Ultrasound for Pets

There are a great many reasons why a pet may benefit from having an ultrasound performed. We may use it as a tool to further investigate a suspected problem, explore an unexplained symptom, or even use it as an aid when collecting samples. Some of the more common reasons we perform an ultrasound for pets include:

To investigate vomiting or diarrheaTo get a look at a blockage or something swallowedWhen staging cancerTo get a better look at an organ that is showing signs of trouble (elevated liver values or chronic urinary infections)To aid in getting a biopsy or fluid sampleIn order to monitor pregnant patientsTo assess the heart

When we perform an ultrasound, we are able to look at the size, shape, and other characteristics of individual organs. While an x-ray only shows us a silhouette of the individual organ, an ultrasound can tell us much more about the makeup of that organ, its blood supply, and even sometimes its function.

In addition, we have sonographers available via remote to ensure that we get good images, and we have radiology and internal medicine specialists available to interpret ultrasounds and consult on cases as needed.

Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is proud to offer our pet patients the best diagnostic testing and treatments available. Ultrasound for pets has become such a valuable tool for us to help our clients, and we are thankful for the ability to offer it when needed.