Veterinary care can be expensive. Whether your cat needs an ultrasound for reasons related to pregnancy or a medical condition, there can be some hefty expenses associated with the procedure. The cost may vary depending on the type of ultrasound, your location, and other potential additional expenses. In general, a cat ultrasound can cost between $200-$500 depending on where you live.
To learn more about the cost of an ultrasound for your cat, keep reading below.
The Importance of Feline Ultrasounds
An ultrasound also referred to as a sonography, is an imaging method that uses sound waves to create a picture of the structures within your cat’s body.
Ultrasounds are often used to evaluate the progress of a pregnancy, however, that is not their only use. They are also extremely useful diagnostic tools. When your cat is struggling with internal health complications, ultrasounds are a painless and non-invasive way to gather information. Veterinary professionals can use ultrasounds to examine your cat’s internal organs, including the shape, size, and even texture.
Many medical conditions are difficult for cat owners to see from the outside. Cats do their best to disguise their pain, as it is their instinct to mask discomfort. If your vet suspects that something is wrong internally, they may recommend an ultrasound to evaluate the status of your cat’s internal body.
Health complications that may require an ultrasound to discover include cancer, kidney disease, and liver disease. These are devastating conditions that require immediate care and treatment, so diagnosing them quickly is vital. For this reason, an ultrasound may be a crucial tool for saving your cat’s life.
How Much Does an Ultrasound Cost?
There are a number of factors that may determine the cost of an ultrasound. The average that an ultrasound is expected to cost ranges from $300 –$500. The type of ultrasound that your cat will undergo can influence the price. The more complicated or in-depth the ultrasound is, the more expensive it will be.
For instance, echocardiograms, or an ultrasound of the heart, is likely to cost more. This is because the echocardiogram requires more measurements and calculations than the average ultrasound. Abdominal ultrasounds are the same.
On the other hand, ultrasounds that are done in emergencies or ultrasounds for pregnancies take less time, so they are not as expensive. Likewise, ultrasounds that only cover a singular organ (such as the liver or bladder) will also be cheaper.
The expertise of the veterinary professional may also impact that cost. If a general practitioner is performing the ultrasound, the cost is likely to be cheaper. However, if a specialist does the ultrasound, the price will go up. This is because the specialist has more training than a general practitioner.
Location is another large factor in determining ultrasound prices. Cat owners living in the city are likely to see higher rates than cat owners living in rural areas. Likewise, different regions of the country will have different price trends for their ultrasounds as well. To better understand the variation between different regions, here are 3 comparisons that show how the prices may range depending on where you are in the United States:
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Ultrasounds are already an expensive procedure, and the additional costs only increase the price. If you anticipate your cat needing an ultrasound, make sure you are prepared to handle any other possible expenses.
These additional expenses will certainly include consultation fees. An examination will be necessary for a veterinarian to recommend an ultrasound for your cat, so the expense of this visit and any follow-up visits will be an additional expense to consider.
Another possible expense may be medical examinations that are performed before the ultrasound. These tests include x-rays, physical exams, and blood tests, and they are done to look for issues in organs like the pancreas, spleen, or liver. The prices of these tests will vary depending on which test is done, as well as if multiple tests are done.
It is possible that your cat may need to be sedated during an ultrasound. This is not a standard requirement, but it may be necessary if your cat is too stressed or anxious to allow the test to be performed. If your cat needs a sedative for the test to be done, this will increase the price.
When the ultrasound is done, there may be a chance that your cat needs to stay in the hospital for additional treatment. In that instance, there will be an added hospitalization fee. The price of this will vary depending on what treatment is required and how long your cat needs to remain hospitalized.
When Are Ultrasounds Necessary?
There are several reasons that an ultrasound may be necessary. Ultrasounds are often used to evaluate pregnancies, thyroid glands, ligaments and tendons, and eyes. Ultrasounds are also done to examine soft tissues within the body, but this is not the limit to what ultrasounds are recommended for.
Ultrasounds are often used to evaluate heart conditions to help your vet determine whether or not your cat needs to be on heart medications. Ultrasounds for heart conditions may be done by a general practitioner or a cardiologist. The cardiologist will be more expensive.
Abnormalities in your cat’s urine or blood tests may also lead to an ultrasound. This is because the ultrasound will allow for visualization of your cat’s internal organs so that your vet can possibly see the cause of these abnormalities.
If your cat has swallowed a foreign body, an ultrasound may be used to detect it. Objects that your cat may have ingested, such as cloth or plastic, may not always be caught by x-rays. However, ultrasound can pick these foreign bodies up more easily, making it a useful imaging tool if your cat has gotten into something he shouldn’t have. This will also help your vet to determine whether or not emergency medical care needs to be given.
There are also instances in which an emergency will require an ultrasound for diagnosis. If your cat has internal hemorrhaging, for instance, an ultrasound will be able to confirm that and help medical professionals devise a plan of action.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Ultrasounds?
The costs associated with ultrasounds may seem daunting, but thankfully, pet insurance normally provides coverage for this exam. However, whether your pet insurance covers it or not may depend on the reason for the ultrasound.
Some pet insurance policies do not cover pregnancy-related expenses. If you are enrolled in an insurance plan that does not offer coverage for pregnancies, then you will have to manage any pregnancy-related ultrasound expenses on your own.
But if the ultrasound is done due to an accident or illness, there is a good chance that your pet insurance will cover it. If you are uncertain, be sure to verify this with your insurance provider.
What to Expect Before and After an Ultrasound
Depending on the ultrasound being performed, there may be some necessary preparation. For instance, with abdominal ultrasounds, your cat cannot eat food for 12 hours prior to the examination. However, in most instances, no preparation is necessary. Your veterinarian will advise you on what preparation (if any) is required.
After the ultrasound, you will generally have the results right away. This is because the images are being created and evaluated in real time. However, in special instances, imaging may be sent to a specialist for additional consultation. In those cases, it may take several days for you to hear the results.
Ultrasounds are an important part of evaluating what is happening inside your cat’s body. They are a useful imaging tool that can provide you and your vet with immediate answers to any concerns with your cat’s health, paving the way for a treatment plan to be made. Pet insurance will help to cover the costs in many cases; however, it may vary depending on the purpose of the exam.
While ultrasounds can be expensive, they are vital to diagnosing issues in your cat and may even save his life.
Featured Image Credit: Libre, Shutterstock