Difference between Veterinary Stethoscope and Human medicine stethoscope

Greeting your clients with the stethoscope hanging around your neck probably has the greatest impact on how they perceive you as a respectable and trustworthy doctor. Stethoscopes are widely used in human and veterinary medicine as the single, most reliable direction-giving tool. Both veterinarians and physicians always tend to examine their patients with a stethoscope first, before suggesting additional tests. They have been used for about two centuries now, and are definitely going to be used for the days to come.

There are many stethoscope models on the market and it’s hard to decide which one to purchase if you never owned one before. Although any stethoscope used in human medicine can also be used in veterinary medicine, there are some specifics regarding this diagnostic tool that will make the life of a vet a lot easier. Stethoscopes with longer tubes are preferred with vets because some animals can frighten and don’t always allow intimate contact. Also, vet stethoscopes must be easy to clean as they get dirty all the time.  

To explain this, we must first clarify the difference between traditional stethoscopes and Littmann stethoscopes. Traditional stethoscopes have two sides on the chest piece, the diaphragm intended for capturing higher frequencies, and the bell used for lower frequencies. Littmann stethoscopes possess dual frequency membranes and can detect both high and low frequencies with both sides of the tool’s chest piece. Simply altering the pressure put on the patient the doctor can listen to low-frequency sounds with lighter pressure or high-frequency with firm pressure with a Littmann.

Traditional stethoscopes are mostly used by medical or veterinary students, as well as by general and family medicine practitioners. Pulmonologists, internists, and cardiologists need precise auscultation and often use high-performance models of stethoscopes.

Compared to human medicine specialists, veterinarians are highly encouraged to examine their patients with stethoscopes used by pediatricians. The main, determining difference in these stethoscopes is the smaller diameter of the bell and the diaphragm. The smaller size makes it easier to effectively isolate various sounds. It will be best if the stethoscope is a Littmann model. As there are animals quite different in size and weight, a vet needs to choose a model of Littmann stethoscope that best suits his patients’ needs (ex. infant model for babies and exotics, or pediatric model for medium-sized). Other than that, every stethoscope is a suitable stethoscope as long as the one listening to the sounds knows how to recognize if something is wrong.    

Few examples of veterinary stethoscopes: 

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