Veterinary Stethoscope: 5 Insanely Simple Tips
As you begin the process of studying to become a veterinarian or vet technician, you will encounter all kinds of learning curves, some even frustrating and confusing.
One thing we can help you make easier is deciding which stethoscope to pick. The first issue to address, and a very frequently asked question is:
“Is there a difference between a veterinary stethoscope and a medical stethoscope for human patients?”
The short answer is no, as structurally they are nearly identical, and most stethoscope manufacturers do not produce separate “human” versus “veterinary” stethoscopes. The real question is what kind of “human” stethoscope best meets veterinary needs.
This depends on a number of factors, not least which animal category you intend to work with, and your focus of practice. Is it small animals? Equine medicine? Food animal medicine? Even exotic animal veterinary medicine? Perhaps you haven’t yet decided on a focus of practice and would like to purchase a stethoscope to fit most veterinary needs.
There are so many choices that it’s easy to get paralysis by analysis in the complexity of simply selecting a veterinary stethoscope. From price to head type, use to weight and many other factors, you could spend hours, days, weeks just poring over your options.
Instead, we invite you to use this handy guide to select a vet stethoscope that will be ideal for your studies and your future practice.
Top Veterinary Stethoscopes
|Best Choice OverallLittmann Infant||Check Price →|
|Our #2 ChoiceLittmann Pediatric||Check Price →|
|Our #3 ChoiceLittmann Veterinary Stethoscope||Check Price →|
|Littmann Lightweight||Check Price →|
|Littmann Classic II S.E.||Check Price →|
|Littmann Master Classic II||Check Price →|
|Littmann Cardiology III||Check Price →|
It’s great for both vet techs and veterinarians.
Okay, so we added this section at of numerous requests….
If you want to learn more about the different scopes available, read on with your furry friends!
You just want a list of the top stethoscopes for vet techs or vets. Well, here you go, enjoy!
1. Stethoscope for Vet School
Here’s the deal:
When you think of three things you definitely want to have in an instrument you will need for every patient you see, what probably comes to mind is convenience, quality and comfort!
In other words…
- you don’t want your new stethoscope to be so heavy it hurts your neck.
- You want it to work reliably when you need it.
- You want it to fit well in your ears to isolate the important sounds you need to hear.
- You want it to be comfortable for your patients too – whether they are big or small, restless or calm, well or ill.
Want to know the important variables to consider as you are selecting your new veterinary stethoscope?
Well read on…
2. What to Look For in a Veterinary Stethoscope
A stethoscope, of course, is used to listen to the function of the heart, the lungs and at times the greater gastro-intestinal system.
So you want to be sure your stethoscope is functioning at its highest capacity for each patient you see, regardless of size, breed, weight or location of internal organs.
You might be wondering:
What to look for to pick a stethoscope of the highest quality for your studies and your new practice?
We’ll we layout the four main points.
– Ear piece.
The ear pieces can be customized in some stethoscopes.
But if you are buying a stethoscope used or “off the rack,” just be sure to try out the ear pieces to see if they are comfortable and adjustable.
Sometimes the ear pieces are rigid and other times they are softer.
If possible, see if you can buy an accessory kit that offers additional earpiece options, or if there is a way to adjust the earpieces to filter out any “artifacts,” or ambient environmental noise.
– Chest piece (head).
The chest piece consists of the bell, the diaphragm, the rim and the attachment to the tubing.
This entire piece responds to pressure as it transmits the sounds coming from the heart, lungs and pulmonary system of the patient.
It should be easy and comfortable to hold and position in your hand.
A veterinary stethoscope for small animals should have a smaller diaphragm. This will allow proper auscultation techniques.
The length of the tubing on your new stethoscope should not be latex-based, since so many patients today have latex allergies.
The ideal tubing will protect against interference from ambient noise (often caused by the tubing rubbing against something else or even the other tube on the stethoscope).
For ideal sound proofing and sound quality, a wide double bore or bi-lumen (single plus double bore combined) tubing can be a great choice.
The diaphragm is designed to pick up higher frequency noises.
You can choose from narrower (25+ mm) or wider diaphragms (45+ mm) for smaller or larger patients.
For adult human patients, 35 mm is often recommended, which should give you some guidance as far as choosing a diaphragm size for your non-human patients.
3. By Stethoscope Head Type
There are three basic head types in vet stethoscopes today: single, dual and triple head.
Regardless of the type you choose, you will want to be sure the head is non-chill for patient comfort.
Read on to learn more about each.
– Single head.
The single head stethoscope has both the bell (low sounds) and diaphragm (high sounds) located on the same side.
– Dual head.
A dual head stethoscope has the bell on one side and the diaphragm on the other side.
– Triple head.
The triple head stethoscope is generally highly optimized for a wider range of sounds and tends to be more expensive than the other two types.
It includes the usual bell and diaphragm and then a third, corrugated, diaphragm for hearing the lowest sounds the heart can produce while also amplifying heart sounds in general.
This would be a great choice if you plan to specialize in heart issues.
4. By Use
How, where and with what types of patients you use your new stethoscope can all factor in to the stethoscope that will best suit your needs.
But here’s the kicker:
Read on for some additional considerations to examine before making your purchase.
The environment you work in can factor in to the type of stethoscope you purchase.
You will need a more sensitive stethoscope if you will be working in noisy or outdoor environments with lots of ambient sound.
– Small versus large animals.
The size of the chest piece (bell and diaphragm) on your new stethoscope will affect what you can hear in terms of how much space it can cover.
For very small patients, you can easily get away with a smaller chest piece than for larger patients.
– Species and breed (cats, dogs, horses, birds, et al).
Tubing generally comes in 22 to 28 inch lengths.
As a matter of personal safety, if you will be working with wild, feral or aggressive patients, you may want to select a longer tubing style to give you a little more space between you and the patient.
5. How to Choose a Vet Stethoscope
Each of the following elements is important to consider as you are selecting your new stethoscope.
But most importantly, you want to err on the side of dependability and durability, since you will have your stethoscope with you throughout your studies.
The good news is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to get a good quality stethoscope.
If you can’t afford the model you want new, check out the student bulletin boards and online boards to see if you can find a good used version instead.
In general, you can plan to spend anywhere from $100 to $300 or more for a new stethoscope, depending on what type you want.
– Quality and dependability.
Here, it is better to spend on quality and dependability over bells and whistles.
A good, reliable and dependable basic stethoscope can teach you how to listen and what to listen for until you have the budget to upgrade.
The type of stethoscope you choose will depend in part on your budget and in part on what type of veterinary specialty you may be pursuing.
For instance, if you plan to specialize in small animals, you may want a more petite stethoscope.
In time, you may decide to get one or more additional stethoscopes for use with different animals.
If there is one thing you want to avoid, it is investing in a stethoscope that is too heavy for you to comfortably keep around your neck.
You want it to feel so light it is almost not there at all. Also be sure to test out carrying it in your pocket to make sure it doesn’t weight down one side of your lab coat too heavily.
If you buy a used stethoscope, check carefully to ensure that the model is still being manufactured.
This is so you can still find replacement parts if the need arises.
Also, before making a purchase you want to do a thorough visual inspection of the stethoscope to be sure all parts are smooth, non-chill, unscratched or cracked.
Make sure there are no sharp edges or pieces sticking out that could hurt you or one of your patients.
As a vet student (and later, a vet tech or a vet), you may need to make field calls.
You may use your stethoscope to diagnose larger animals, some of which may not be so keen on being diagnosed!
So you want to choose a stethoscope that is made of durable material that does not crack, break, tear or scratch easily even under duress.
– Bell and diaphragm.
Depending on whether you select a single or double/triple head stethoscope, you may have the bell and diaphragm on one side, or you may have one on one side and one on the other side.
When you test out a prospective stethoscope, be sure you are able to hear low (bell) frequencies and high (diaphragm) frequencies accurately.
Choosing the Best Veterinary Stethoscope
So what is the best veterinary stethoscope? Here’s the deal… now that you have gained a thorough overview of the parts of the stethoscope as well as issues related to patient size, temperament, exam environment and other important factors, you can select your new stethoscope with confidence!
Top Veterinary Stethoscopes
- Littmann Infant – great for small critters like lizards and snakes
- Littmann Pediatric – great for small animals like birds
- Littmann Veterinary Stethoscope – great for dogs and cats
- Littmann Lightweight – for those that have neck problems
- Littmann Classic II S.E.
- Littmann Master Classic II
- Littmann Cardiology III
Veterinary Stethoscope Reviews
To compare the different vet stethoscopes, simply click and hold on the name of the stethoscope you wish to compare while dragging it to a spot.
Some great information will populate as well as a picture. There are two tabs at the bottom of each, one to view the price and the other to see our full review. Check it out now, it’s a pretty cool tool just for you!
Stethoscopes for Hearing Impaired
Tags: best veterinary stethoscope, veterinary stethoscope, veterinary stethoscope small animal
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