One of the biggest responsibilities we have as pet keepers is making sure our animals are in good health. Now, some of the same technological tools used to detect problems in people are being used on our pets. One vet who is a proponent of using technology for preventative care is Dr. Andrew Kaplan from City Veterinary Care in New York City.
Dr. Kaplan will use a sonogram not only when animals are sick, but also as a preventative surveillance tool for dogs and cats as they age to stay ahead of pending problems. A sonogram addresses problems that might not meet the eye of the veterinarian; with a sonogram, you can go deeper and get a better look at the organs.
For larger dogs, Dr. Kaplan starts recommending sonograms at about 6 or 7 years of age and for smaller dogs at about 9 or 10. He makes it a routine part of an older dog's regular exam, once or twice a year, and like with people's sonograms, you compare it to the one before to detect changes. In the past, Dr. Kaplan has discovered a variety of problems -- including tumors on various organs, kidney stones, bladder stones, gallbladder problems, and spleen tumors -- by using sonograms.
Sonogram technology is fairly uncommon in veterinary offices thus far. Most vets don't have the equipment. For the sonogram, you can request the procedure to your vet, who can call in a sonogram technician. Some of the bigger animal hospitals also have the equipment.
Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Kaplan, the owner and chief veterinarian at City Veterinary Care located on the Upper West side of Manhattan, for sharing this information. For more details about his organization, "The Toby Project," and how it's helping to control the pet population, visit tobyproject.org. Special thanks to Christy Jergens for the photos used in this segment.