5 Surprising Ways Ultrasound Is Used In Small Animals

Posted on: 5 April 2017

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Most people think of ultrasounds as a way of getting a picture of babies before they are born. Medical professionals may also use an ultrasound to gather information about a mass or other medical problem in humans. But did you know that ultrasound is used for animals, too? Even tiny animals are benefiting from ultrasound technology. Here are 5 surprising ways ultrasound is being used for small animals. 

Diagnosis in Reptiles

Issues in snakes, lizards, and other reptiles are particularly hard to diagnose. These animals do not show many signs of pain or illness. Often a sick reptile will simply stop eating and eventually die, without anyone knowing what was wrong. 

Ultrasound machines can help veterinarians develop a picture of what is going on inside the body of a reptile. They can look at common problem areas like the gastrointestinal or respiratory tracts. This can allow the veterinarian to better understand the problem, provide a diagnosis, and treat the animal. 

Pregnancy Testing in Mice

Mice are among the most commonly used creatures in medical research. When this research includes a study of pregnancy in mice, an ultrasound machine can help scientists with gathering evidence. 

With an ultrasound, researchers can immediately tell when a mouse has become pregnant and even how many baby mice will be in the litter. The ultrasound technique is a non-invasive way of gathering this information that does not hurt the mouse. 

Your veterinarian can also use an ultrasound to tell you if your pet mouse is going to become a mother and exactly how many little ones you are about to become responsible for. 

Kidney Disease in Rabbits

Kidney disease or renal failure is a fairly common and deadly illness that often affects rabbits. When rabbits grow masses in their kidneys, veterinarians can use ultrasounds to help treat the problem. 

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University reported on a case of renal disease that was successfully treated in a rabbit. In this case, the veterinarian was able to break up the mass with a needle, guided with an ultrasound. 

Amyloidosis in Hamsters

Amyloidosis is a disease that can occur in hamsters when a harmful protein is developed in the animal's body. It is often caused by an infection. This condition can cause the hamster's abdomen to fill with fluid and can shut down vital organs. 

Veterinarians use ultrasounds to determine if the hamsters heart, lungs, or kidneys are deteriorating because of the disease. 

Saving Endangered Birds and Turtles

Due to human overpopulation and other environmental factors, many species of exotic birds are becoming extinct. One way that veterinarians are helping to fight for the survival of these endangered birds is by using ultrasounds. The ultrasound image acts as a map to help the veterinarian extract the eggs of the birds. These can then be fertilized to create more of the species that can then begin to procreate on their own. 

A similar technique is being used in sea turtles. This report from nature.com tells how one program has encouraged breeding in endangered leatherback turtles through the use of ultrasound. 

An ultrasound is not only a great tool for humans to get treatment for illnesses or to see a baby before the birth, but it is also being used by veterinarians and scientists to find out more about small animals. Small animal veterinarians are able to diagnose and treat diseases in their littlest patients with the use of veterinary ultrasound machines. The next time your tiny pet has a medical problem, ask if your small animal veterinarian uses an veterinary ultrasound machine. It could provide information that can save your pet's life.