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Diagnostic Ultrasound for Your Pet

More and more, diagnostic ultrasounds` are becoming part of the routine options available to pet owners when looking to treat their beloved furry friends. It’s no secret that there have been many important gains in veterinary medicine in recent years, and sometimes those gains involve simply making better use of the medical tools that are already available. Fortunately the cost of veterinary ultrasounds has significantly reduced over the past several years.

 What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a machine that uses sound waves to scan the body. Sound waves run through your pet’s body and then the machine analyzes the echoes to determine the masses they encounter. The sound waves are at such a high frequency that even your dog won’t be able to hear them or to feel any effect from it. An ultrasound is a very safe diagnostic tool – which is why they can be used in human pregnancies.

Individual organs such as the liver, kidneys and bowels can be safely examined without the need for invasive surgery. Echocardiography is also known as cardiac ultrasound and it involves the same procedure except specifically for the heart. It gives us a picture of your pet’s heart as it is beating, as well as how the blood flows in and through the heart.

Why Get an Ultrasound?
Since the ultrasound can be used to look for changes to organs along with blood flow, it can be used in a variety of situations:

• To examine the digestive system where there has been prolonged symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea;
• To look for abnormalities that could explain unexpected weight gain or loss;
• To search for kidney stones, infection, tumours or other abnormalities in the case of changes to urinary habits;
• Looking for fluid in the lungs or abdomen;
• In the case where masses are found, a needle biopsy can be performed, guided by an ultrasound to avoid unnecessary surgery;
• And many more.

The analysis will yield information on the locations of organs and other masses such as tumours, their size, shape and their blood supply network. Sometimes, the ultrasound will find masses within organs that are harmless and merely represent changes due to aging. That’s why additional tests and procedures are often required.

What Will Happen?
The area that is to be scanned will be shaved as fur impedes the sound waves. But don’t worry – it should grow back within three to four weeks. A sweater or coat can help to protect your pet’s skin in the meantime. A warm gel is applied to the skin and your pet will lie on their side as the ultrasound is performed. Unlike x-rays, there is no radiation involved. Often a very small amount of sedation is required in order to prevent the pet from moving around during the procedure.

Then What?
The usefulness of an ultrasound lies in how it is interpreted. That’s where the vet comes in! Once we have the image, we’ll analyse it and then let you know how we think you should proceed.

An ultrasound is a safe, fast and repeatable test that can often help us avoid more invasive tests and procedures. Ask us about an ultrasound for your pet, or just more information, today.


About Dr. Arzem and The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital:
Dr. Gary Arzem received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario in 1989. He is the founder and head veterinarian at The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario. Having practiced veterinary medicine for more than 25 years, his skills and special interests include surgery, dentistry, diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and radiography), dermatology, internal medicine, cardiology, ophthalmology and public health as it relates to pets and their owners. He is a founding member of The Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region in Newmarket. Dr. Arzem is recognized as an educational leader in the community and is involved with The Ontario Veterinary College, York Region District School Board, Simcoe County Board of Education, and Seneca College’s Co-Operative Education Programs. Dr. Arzem also participates in several continuing education conferences, including The North American and Western Veterinary Conferences and he is actively involved in fundraising for a number of charitable organizations, such as The Pet Trust Fund, The Farley Foundation, The Hospital for Sick Children and the Canadian Cancer Society. He has also appeared on City T.V.’s Animal House Calls and Rogers Your Pet Your Vet television shows and has written several articles for Newmarket’s Snapd Newspapers.

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