Ultrasound scanning is also called ultrasonography or echography and is an imaging method in which the internal organs can be examined using sound waves with a frequency above the audible range (ultrasound).
Ultrasound procedure for dogs / Ultrasound for cats / Ultrasound for small animals
Thorough imaging of all organs during the ultrasound scan of a dog, cat or other pet animal lasts roughly 20-30 min, during which the animal should lie as still as possible. Depending on the vet’s assessment, you, the patient’s owner, may stay with your pet during the scan and have a calming effect on it. This can even be an advantage in nervous animals. While the ultrasound scan is being performed, we always endeavour to explain the results to you in readily understandable terms and also show them to you on the monitor.
To create optimal conditions for the scan it is necessary to shave your pet thoroughly in the place that will be scanned (usually the belly). Please accept that we cannot make any exceptions to this as this is the only way to achieve good image quality and a reliable result. Sedation (mild anaesthesia) may be needed for very nervous and uncooperative patients.
A special ultrasound gel is then applied to the skin to improve the contact between the transducer and body surface. The room is darkened during the ultrasound scan.
Ultrasound scans of the abdominal organs of dogs and cats are usually performed with the animal lying on their back or right side on a soft surface so that lying that way is more comfortable. For special examinations, it may be necessary to change the animal’s position or examine it standing.
How safe is an ultrasound scan in dogs / cats / other pets?
This scanning method is completely painless and can be performed in all animal species. An ultrasound scan is performed mainly in dogs or cats. Unlike diagnostic X-rays, the animal does not receive any radiation. This is also why you as the pet owner may be present during your cat’s, dog’s or other pet’s ultrasound scan. An ultrasound scan is completely safe and can also be used in pregnant animals. However, it does require some cooperation and patience on the part of our animal patients as well as great experience in the examiner. Ultrasonography is a further investigation method that supplements other diagnostic methods such as X-ray, blood tests etc., but it should not and cannot replace them.
Costs of ultrasound in dogs / ultrasound in cats
What does ultrasound for a dog or cat cost? Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have a simple answer.
- Costs of ultrasound in dogs,
- Costs of ultrasound in cats and
- Costs of ultrasound in other pet animals
depend on various factors. The time needed for the scan plays a part, as does the time when it is done (e.g. at night) or the veterinary surgeon’s training. We will be happy to tell you before the scan roughly how much your cat’s, dog’s or other pet’s ultrasound scan will cost you. Please note that the costs are higher for an emergency scan, i.e., at the weekend or at night.
What should you as the owner be aware of for your pet’s ultrasound scan?
- Before an ultrasound scan of the abdominal organs of dogs and cats, no feeding for at least 12 hours is recommended to avoid troublesome gas in the gastrointestinal tract. For other pets, we will provide you with separate information regarding this when the appointment is made.
- Drinking is allowed and indeed desirable until the scan. A liquid-filled stomach is shown more easily on ultrasound.
- A well-filled bladder is beneficial for the scan. Long walks before the agreed ultrasound appointment should be avoided and cats should be shut into their transport crate 2 hours if possible before the planned ultrasound scan.
When is an ultrasound scan performed in dogs, cats and other pets?
- Ultrasound can show the tiniest organ changes at an early stage which is why this investigation should be performed regularly in older animals as part of a health check. This is the only way to recognise and treat diseases at an early stage.
- Painful abdomen (belly) of uncertain cause: this has many causes such as inflammation of the pancreas, inflammation of the liver, bladder stones, kidney stones, tumours, intestinal obstruction and many others.
- After acute trauma (road accidents, falls from a window etc.) to look for internal bleeding and organ injury we recommend an ultrasound scan for cats and dogs.
- An ultrasound scan makes sense as a screening investigation in unneutered male dogs, paying special attention to the prostate and testicles. Many elderly male dogs suffer from prostate diseases (prostate cysts, prostate hyperplasia, inflammation, tumours) or testicular diseases (epididymitis, testicular tumours).
- We advise an ultrasound scan especially in medium-sized and large dogs over the age of 8 years as part of an annual check-up. The spleen is of particular interest in these dogs as tumours often grow there (both benign and malignant), which cannot be diagnosed any other way. If these tumours arising from the blood vessel system are recognised early, an operation can save the dog‘s life and markedly improve the prognosis. These tumours are particularly insidious especially because neither clinical examination nor X-rays and blood tests can provide any evidence of a tumour. The dogs collapse suddenly and bleed to death internally so an ultrasound scan can be a dog’s lifesaver.
- In female dogs, an ultrasound scan during pregnancy makes sense for calculating the approximate date of birth, the rough number of puppies and the health of the puppies.
- Ultrasound is also being used increasingly often in our small patients. For instance, ovarian cysts in guinea pigs, bladder sand/bladder stones in rabbits etc. can be diagnosed quickly and painlessly.
- Cardiac ultrasound is recommended for a dog or cat to find out the cause of heart problems