If your cat has a mysterious condition, it may need the help of ultrasound scans for an accurate diagnosis. An ultrasound can provide a better picture of what’s going on inside your cat and help direct veterinarians to a better course of action.
Ultrasounds tend to be more expensive than other diagnostic tests and cost several hundreds of dollars. So, it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to use an ultrasound and what options are available to help pay for them.
The Importance of an Ultrasound for a Cat
Ultrasounds are important diagnostic tools that can help veterinarians find any internal causes of symptoms your cat may be experiencing. Ultrasounds are completely safe and non-invasive.
Rather than using electromagnetic radiation, like CT scans, an ultrasound uses a transducer that emits soundwaves through the body. These soundwaves create an image of the internal structure of the body.
A trained specialist can locate any abnormalities in the body, which can help detect and diagnose medical conditions in cats. Since ultrasounds are non-invasive, they’re a good preliminary option and can help veterinarians avoid using more invasive procedures on cats, like biopsies.
How Much Does an Ultrasound Cost for a Cat?
It can be difficult finding estimates for ultrasounds for cats because prices vary depending on how extensive the procedure needs to be. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300-$500 for an ultrasound.
Prices vary by location, so if you’re living in a city with higher costs of living, you can expect to pay more for an ultrasound than someone who lives in a smaller town. The length of the scan can also affect prices. Some ultrasounds are quick and will cost less, while others take longer. Therefore, some veterinary care centers may charge hourly for doing ultrasounds.
Lastly, prices depend on if you work with a generalist or a specialist. Some veterinary care centers have in-house veterinarians that can complete ultrasounds. Others may refer you to an ultrasound specialist, which can be much more expensive than a generalist.
Here are some ultrasound prices of veterinary clinics in various cities across the US:
Additional Costs to Anticipate
There are some additional costs to consider when getting an ultrasound for your cat. First, if your cat is calm and cooperative it won’t need to be put to sleep during the ultrasound. However, if your cat is resistant, it may need anesthesia, which requires additional payment.
If your veterinarian discovers something through the ultrasound images that require further testing, you’ll have to pay for additional diagnostic services. Depending on the diagnosis, you may end up paying for surgery or medication.
When Should a Cat Get an Ultrasound?
Ultrasounds aren’t a part of routine care for cats and are used to help veterinarians make a diagnosis for any abnormal conditions. Ultrasound scans help veterinarians locate foreign masses in the body and find anything unusual in internal organs, like the bladder, liver, and kidneys.
Your cat should get an ultrasound only if it’s recommended by your veterinarian. Ultrasounds are most often used to examine the heart, and they can help track a cat’s pregnancy.
You don’t have to worry about your cat experiencing any pain. Getting ultrasound scans is a painless procedure, non-invasive procedure. Unless your cat is extremely resistant to the ultrasound machine, it won’t need anesthesia.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Ultrasounds?
Fortunately, pet insurance covers ultrasounds. Ultrasounds are part of diagnostic testing, which is a service commonly paid for by accident-only and accident and illness plans.
Just keep in mind that pet insurance plans don’t help pay for anything related to pre-existing conditions. So, if your cat has a chronic illness before it gets pet insurance, the insurance policy won’t help pay for any ultrasounds related to the chronic condition.
However, if you get a pet insurance plan and your cat needs an ultrasound after the policy waiting period is over, you’ll receive a reimbursement for that ultrasound.
What to Do to Prepare Your Cat for an Ultrasound
There isn’t too much preparation required for an ultrasound. If your cat’s having an abdominal ultrasound, it should refrain from eating for 12 hours. This ensures that the imaging is as clear as possible.
If your cat needs an ultrasound scan of its bladder, a full bladder often produces the clearest images. So, you may need to prevent your cat from urinating within 3-6 hours of the scheduled ultrasound.
If you think your cat will be anxious throughout the procedure, you can consult with your vet to see if there’s anything you can give your cat to reduce anxiety. It may also be helpful to play with your cat and let it expend its energy before getting an ultrasound so that it’s less likely to be active during the scan.
Overall, ultrasounds help veterinarians detect internal conditions that may be causing pain and discomfort for your cats. Ultrasound scans are commonly used on cats, and they can be very expensive. So, it’s important to have accurate estimates in order to create a budget for them and find ways to pay for them.
Fortunately, pet insurance can help pay for ultrasounds. It doesn’t hurt to explore pet insurance plans to see which one will provide the best coverage for your cat at the most affordable price. It’s best to plan ahead so that you’re not met with unexpected expensive medical bills that compromise the level of care that your cat can receive.
Featured Image Credit: Kurbatov, Shutterstock