Dogs tend to try and mask any sign of illness as they do not want to appear weak or vulnerable. This is instinctual behavior that stems from a time prior to them becoming domesticated, but one that remains despite the fact that they are rarely exposed to predators. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to tell when your pet is feeling unwell, or when medical intervention is required. Nevertheless, it is up to you as his owner to do everything you can to keep your canine pal as healthy and happy as possible.
Eventually, illness and disease reach a point where your dog will find it impossible to hide any more. When this happens, you will almost certainly schedule an appointment with your vet to have your furbaby assessed. Depending on the symptoms that your dog displays, further testing may be required. One of the tests that may be recommended for your dog is an ultrasound exam.
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound, also often referred to as an ultrasonography, is a non-invasive type of imaging that is used in both humans and animals alike. The process enables the sonographer, who is the professional undertaking the procedure, to visualize internal body structures and in particular, the soft tissue. This includes the major body organs including the liver, kidneys, lungs, stomach, pancreas, thyroid, womb and heart. When an ultrasound exam is carried out on the heart, it is often referred to as an echocardiogram.
The procedure itself is simple, painless and usually fairly short. Your dog will be placed on the table and gel will be applied to the area of the body to be checked. If your pet has a long or thick coat, your vet will probably need to shave his fur so that the ultrasound probe can make direct contact with the skin. If proper contact isn’t made, the image will be poor quality, and this could affect your sonographer’s ability to assess the results of the scan effectively. The probe is then applied onto your pets’ skin and moved across the surface so that your sonographer can see the internal organs beneath.
What sort of health problems can be identified with an ultrasound examination?
One of the biggest difficulties with diagnosing health problems is that it is impossible to see exactly what is happening inside your dog with the naked eye. Instead, your veterinarian must analyze any symptoms that your dog presents with and use the results of any tests, including his ultrasound images, to make a diagnosis.
An ultrasound examination can be beneficial in detecting a variety of different health problems and developments, including but not limited to:
- Cysts or abnormal growths on body organs including the liver, spleen or pancreas
- Abnormal enlargement of the spleen
- Cancer of the liver
- Heart defects including congenital problems
- Bladder problems
- Kidney stones
In particular, ultrasounds are valuable in detecting changes in the shape, size, tissue density, structure and even position of internal organs.
In many cases, ultrasounds are given to dogs that are suffering from abdominal pain and other symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea and struggling to pass water. When symptoms such as these occur, your vet in Andalusia AL may suggest that your pet has a blood test. If there are any abnormal results from these tests, your vet may then recommend a follow-up ultrasound.
If you have further questions about the pet ultrasound process or would like more information about why your dog has been referred for an ultrasound procedure, our friendly veterinarians in Andalusia AL are on hand to help. Please contact us at 334-758-8300 or visit our veterinary hospital today.