There may come a time in your life when your dog gets sick or pregnant and your vet says that your dog needs an ultrasound. While it may seem scary because you do not know how ultrasounds work on a dog, this article will run down what an ultrasound does, some causes that warrant an ultrasound, what you can do before hand to help prepare for the scan and more.
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound, also known as ultrasonography or just a sonogram, is a scan that is easy to use, pain-free and does not penetrate the skin to get a look inside the body. It is used in humans and animals that can detect internal body structures. It utilizes sound waves by emitting and projecting the waves, their high frequency are able to bounce off of the structure inside the dog’s body. Pictures will show up because of the reflection of the echoes from the targeted objected are so fast that it creates a majority clear image.
With the image being created on the machine, it allows veterinarians to diagnose conditions that they could not previously see, such a diagnosing ailments and confirming pregnancies in dogs.
Why use an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a useful tool that creates a live video feed, essentially, as compared to an x-ray, that creates a black and white not-moving picture. Vets can move around as the please with the wand and see new areas inside the structures of the dog to give a clear and accurate diagnosis on the spot and go in for a double check or triple check because as long as the image is clear the first time, there is not need to reboot the machine or wait for diagnosis because the new information is right at their fingertips.
What will an ultrasound show in a dog?
There may be a number of causes that a veterinarian to ask to perform an ultrasound, some of them include:
How to prepare your dog for an ultrasound
There is no need to worry about your dog being hurt when it comes to ultrasounds, the scan is safe, fast and simple since the veterinarian has to do these quite often. Your veterinarian will ask you to make an appointment for the ultrasound, you can ask for a pamphlet that details what an ultrasound is and what you can do. But if those are not available, there is one sure thing that all pet owners ought to know before going into a scan: do not let your dog eat or drink before the scan.
Stopping your dog from eating or drinking before the scan may seem cruel, but a few hours without food or water allows the veterinarian to get a clear picture of the stomach and other areas.
After shaving, the staff will restrain the dog on a padded table, most likely to let the procedure run smoothly and quickly. Some staffs will give quiet encouragement to the dog as well as pet them so they can stay as relaxed as possible.
They will then use an ultrasound gel and the high frequency wave emitting probe to scan the internal organs, this gel will help lubricate the area for the probe to glide across and improve the image. The vet will then examine and utilize the image displayed on the screen to diagnose any issues that pop up on it. The ultrasound scanning procedure should only take about 30 to 60 minutes.
Although, a diagnosis may not be available right away, some cases warrant results being delivered to a specialist for further review on the results because a vet can only diagnose certain prominent things.
What if an abnormality is found during an ultrasound?
Do dogs need to be sedated for an ultrasound?
Since an ultrasound procedure is called a procedure and you have to schedule a special appointment for it, some may think that the veterinarian may need to sedate your dog before the ultrasound.
In order to make things go as smoothly as possible, it would help if you know your vet well and so does your pet in order to keep them as relaxed as possible during the procedure, or they might need to be sedated.
This is one of the better parts about the ultrasound procedure, it does not require sedation or anesthesia with typical cases. If either of these are needed, the vet will discuss with you how this will happen and ask if you are okay with this occurring.
Do I get to stay with my pet during the procedure?
You should be able to leave at any time and go to the waiting room, this is something most owners choose to do because of how long the procedure is, 30 to 60 minutes may seem like a long time to sit, but the staff is taking their time. It is all necessary to get a proper diagnosis on your precious pup.
What if nothing shows up on the scan?
Sometimes there will be little on the scan that is visible to diagnose. This is not the end all be all of the ultrasound. When this occurs, they have a liquid that the dog can take to help display the organs better through the ultrasound. This liquid is metallic and shows up very brightly on x-rays and does not harm the dog in any way. Abdominal x-rays are then taken at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 2 hours, and 4 hours to track the progress of the liquid. This may take some time at the vet’s office, but it is the best thing to do if the vet asks for it to be done. Cases that warrant this are if the dog has not eaten before the scan and nothing shows up, or if the condition that warranted the scan seems serious enough to address immediately and more.
Do not worry about if this is the next step that needs to be taken, it is similar to just boarding your dog. They will be in good care and x-rays done while you wait for the results.
What will the follow-up x-rays do?
The x-rays will make sure that the metallic liquid is properly coursing through the dog’s system to allow for a better ultrasound next time. The staff will do increments of certain hours to track how far the liquid has gone into the insides, and any stoppage of flow of the liquid would indicate an obstruction, which could be another underlying problem.
After hours have passed or the liquid has coated the system, the veterinary staff will perform another ultrasound procedure in the same area, or different if something appears on the x-ray scans. Following this, results should be ready to some degree and your dog, after a long stressful day deserves some love.
What do you do after the scan?
Generally, the dog will be able to go home with you after the ultrasound. When going home, be gentle and kind to your dog, they have not eaten for quite some time so they may be weak and tired. Make sure to provide them with their normal food and water routine, unless your vet says otherwise. You can continue activity as normal, unless instructed otherwise, just be sure to love on and give attention to your dog. The anxiety inducing scan took a lot out of them.
How much do the ultrasound procedure cost?
Generally, the ultrasound will cost from $300 to $500, according to breedingbuisness.com, depending on your clinic and the area you live in. It may be higher if you go to a specialist instead of a clinic. The cost for an ultrasound is relatively in the middle in comparison to other examination process; for example, the x-rays used on dogs usually are in the low hundreds per scan while MRIs for dogs can possibly cost up to a few thousand dollars per scan because of the more advanced and more tedious process MRIs can be.
Why is the scan so expensive?
Ultrasound for dogs near me
The person who should tell you that your dog needs an ultrasound (or an X Ray) is someone certified in animal care, which is often a vet. A friend, who does not have full training but has been through the procedure with their own dog may recommend that you consider a scan, but it is always best to take the dog to be examined by a veterinarian to see if that is useful advice. This diagnosis should be available to you through any vet, as they are certified in describing and finding many conditions that would warrant an ultrasound. Usually there is an ultrasound machine and the equipment at almost every animal clinic as it is a common procedure that needs to be done often, for pregnancy, organ-specific scans, or echocardiography. Some of these causes are more common than others, but still fulfill the need for majority of clinics to have a ultrasound machine. Do not worry about not receiving proper treatment for your dog because a number of clinics have certified vets who are able to diagnose and perform an ultrasound with their staff to suit all of your dog’s needs.
Types of ultrasounds
There are different areas that are scanned in an ultrasound, then they are categorized into the different types of ultrasounds depending on where they are a few types include:
Abdominal ultrasounds: These are needed when the dog has symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, urine in blood or straining to urinate. Other tests such as x-rays, urine samples or a physical examination usually are the cause for this specific area’s scan: unusual test results in any of those can indicate anything from a small infection to a parasite in the abdominal area.
Pregnancy ultrasounds: These are needed to diagnose pregnancy early on and keep track of the puppies inside the mother to ensure proper growth and prepare for how many is to be expected.
Echocardiography: These are needed to ensure the dog is as healthy as can be, showing blood flow and blood vessels.
Eye examinations: Believe it or not eye problems are a sign that might warrant an ultrasound on the eye. No gel is necessary for the eye area typically as it can be harmful to the dog, but images are taken with the same equipment to show up close and personal to the vet what underlying problem may be causing specific irritations of the eye.
Bowel examination: This can be connected to abdominal ultrasounds but here the bowl is focused on for obstructions or other indications of fluid build up that prevents the direct issues that are associated with troubles in the bathroom for the dog. It is often times used if the problem causing the vomiting, diarrhea or strain to urinate is not showing up in the scan of the abdominal area since it is more specific and clear where the problem should be considering the nature of the area.
Are there any negatives to ultrasounds?
The only complaint people have about ultrasounds in general are the fact that the scans can only work on organs that do not contain air. The ultrasound waves will not pass through air or bone, so the lungs, brain, spinal cord and other bones cannot be examined with an ultrasound scan. Veterinarians will suggest other procedures if these areas are affected.
Good things about ultrasounds
Also do not get the ultrasounds waves confused with radiation. Radiation can be harmful to the dog if exposed to too much of it, rather ultrasounds use ultrasound waves which echo an image back to the monitor immediately to allow for diagnosis. So you get immediate images of the insides of the dog and your dog is completely safe at the same time. Not to mention the procedure does take some time but you get feedback quickly, especially if you are sitting in the room with the dog, which in other procedures it is not allowed.