Does pet insurance cover ultrasounds for dogs and cats?
Team Walmart Pets
July 16, 2021
Diagnosing pets can be tricky, as they often have subtle and hard to notice signs and symptoms, such as decreased appetite. Sometimes, the symptoms are even less obvious — astute owners will bring in a pet because “they’re just not being themself.”
Short of a crystal ball, veterinarians are left to piece together clues we get from a thorough physical exam and other diagnostics such as blood work and x-rays. When we can’t get a definitive diagnosis that way, we often rely on even more diagnostics. Once such “next step” test is an ultrasound, which we’ll be breaking down today.
Ultrasounds for dogs and cats
Also known as sonograms, ultrasounds are a wonderful tool for vets. They are non-invasive and painless, so anesthesia is not needed. Sometimes we need to use a little bit of sedation for anxious pets, but often, pets will just lie there for their ultrasound exams.
If you’ve ever had an ultrasound (shoutout to those of you who have been pregnant!), you know that they are completely benign. Unlike x-rays, which use a type of radiation to make an image, ultrasounds use sound waves, which are safe enough for fetuses, you and pets! During an ultrasound, sound waves are passed from an ultrasound wand through your pet’s skin and into the target area. There, the waves can either pass through an organ, be absorbed by an organ, or reflect back off of the organ. The result is an image of that organ that is formed on a monitor and viewed by your veterinarian.
Ultrasounds give us a three-dimensional image of internal body parts, allowing us to see lesions in organs, dilated heart chambers in pets with heart disease, bladder stones, fetal puppies and kittens, and many other conditions that affect our pets. X-rays can give us some of these answers, too, but they have limitations. When questions about the results of an X-ray, often ultrasounds will help to answer them, revealing things that the X-rays were unable to.
Does pet insurance cover ultrasounds?
Ultrasound machines are expensive, and learning how to use them effectively is difficult. For these reasons, not all clinics can offer the service. If your clinic doesn’t have an ultrasound, or your veterinarian does not feel comfortable performing an ultrasound, you and your pet might be referred to a specialty clinic where a radiologist will perform the test for you. Alternatively, your town may have a traveling ultrasonographer, who can bring their machine to your pet’s regular clinic to perform the ultrasound.
Ultrasounds help us find the problem when your pet is under the weather and is one of many tests on which we rely in the world of vet medicine. We are lucky to have it at our disposal, as are our pets, who benefit from a timely diagnosis. The only downside of ultrasounds? Your pet will need to be shaved, as sound waves don’t travel well through thick fur. But a little baldness is worth it for a good diagnosis. And besides, you were probably looking for a justifiable reason to buy your dog or cat an adorable new sweater, right?
If your vet recommends your pet gets an ultrasound as part of their overall treatment, it can be covered by Walmart Pet Insurance. Considering enrolling your pet today. They can be quite costly, but with the right pet insurance, you’ll get paid back up to 90% of the cost.
Photo by Lauren Kay on Unsplash