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Ultrasound for Pets

If your vet is concerned that there may be an issue with your pet's internal structures or functions, they may recommend a veterinary ultrasound. Our Nashua pet vets explain how ultrasounds are performed on cats and dogs in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. 

Ultrasound Imaging for Cats & Dogs at a Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory

Our pets frequently get into things they shouldn't or develop health problems like cysts or tumors that necessitate treatment. Ultrasounds are a type of imaging technology that uses sound waves to create a 'picture' of a specific part of your pet's body.

Veterinary ultrasounds are non-invasive and can diagnose or evaluate problems with your pet's internal organs or check on your pet's pregnancy.

Reasons Why Your Dog or Cat May Need An Ultrasound

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

At Animal Hospital of Nashua, ultrasounds are done in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory serving patients from Nashua. Our team of veterinary specialists uses ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical issues, so we can provide your pet with the most effective treatment possible.

We can distinguish soft tissue masses from foreign bodies or fluid by using ultrasound, which would be difficult or impossible to do with a digital x-ray. The sound waves produced by the ultrasound are not harmful or painful to your cat or dog.

Conditions That May Require An Ultrasound

The following conditions may require an ultrasound for your pet.

Heart Conditions

If your cat or dog has a heart condition, your primary care veterinarian may refer you to our specialists for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram to assess the overall health of your animal's heart and look for abnormalities.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If your veterinarian discovers abnormalities in your pet's blood or urine tests, he or she may recommend an abdominal ultrasound to get a clear picture of the health of your pet's internal organs, such as the lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys, liver, urinary bladder, or other areas to determine why the abnormalities are occurring.

Examination of Soft Tissues

Ultrasound technology allows for the examination of nearly all soft tissues. Among the most common applications for ultrasounds are:

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

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

Tissue Collection With the Help of Veterinary Ultrasounds

Samples are typically collected using these methods:

  • Tru-Cut biopsies
  • Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration

Your pet will most likely be sedated if your veterinarian performs ultrasound-assisted tissue collection. Ultrasounds allow us to perform biopsies in a less invasive manner than surgeries.

What are the different types of ultrasounds?

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

If your pet is in distress, the ultrasound will usually concentrate on the abdomen and chest to determine whether your dog or cat 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 your emergency vet in diagnosing the issue quickly so that an effective treatment plan can be put into action as soon as possible. 

Echocardiogram (Cardiac Ultrasound)

Also referred to as cardiac ultrasounds, with these detailed ultrasounds we can closely assess the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. This will tell us whether the heart is functioning properly and whether there is a malfunction in the heart.

Though they are usually painless, echocardiograms require several measurements and calculations. If your pet was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur or is displaying signs of heart disease, they may be referred to our specialists for an echocardiogram.

Once an abnormal part of an organ has been identified, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy allows us to obtain a tissue sample, which can then be examined under a microscope to reveal additional information. This will almost always result in a diagnosis.

How to Prepare Your Pet for an Ultrasound

Ultrasounds on different parts of your pet's body require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for its ultrasound.

For abdominal ultrasounds, you may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for 8 to 12 hours. When the urinary bladder is full of urine, we can examine it more thoroughly. If at all possible, your cat or dog should refrain from urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound.

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 must 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.

What to Expect When Getting Your Dog or Cat's Results

We can see results almost immediately because our veterinarians can perform an ultrasound in real time. After being captured, ultrasound images are sometimes sent to a veterinary radiologist for further consultation. You may have to wait a few days for the final result in these cases.

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.

If your pet requires an ultrasound, our diagnostic laboratory at Animal Hospital of Nashua is equipped with the tools and technology needed to get to the bottom of the issue and begin treatment quickly. Contact our vets Nashua right away to book an appointment for your pet.

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