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Ultrasounds For Pets

Ultrasounds For Pets

Your vet has recommended that your pet have an ultrasound scan - but why? Today our Stockton vets share a little about the benefits of ultrasound imaging, when it is used, and how to prepare for your pet's ultrasound.

Our pets can develop a variety of illnesses and conditions, such as tumors or cysts, or they can eat things they shouldn't and become lodged inside them. Ultrasounds are a type of diagnostic imaging technology that sends sound waves into your dog or cat's body to produce a real-time image of a specific area of their body.

Veterinary ultrasounds are fast, and non-invasive, and can be used to diagnose or evaluate a number of issues and problems with your pet's internal organs or to check on your pet's pregnancy.

Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound

An ultrasound can help our Stockton vets examine the structure of your pet’s organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors, or other problems.

Ultrasounds are done in an in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Veterinary specialists use ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical issues, so they can provide your pet with the most effective treatment possible.

Types of Ultrasounds

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

If your pet is in distress, the ultrasound will usually concentrate on the abdomen and chest to determine whether your dog or cat has a serious internal hemorrhage (bleeding) or pneumothorax (a condition in which gas or air collects in the space surrounding the lungs). This can help us quickly diagnose the problem. We can then devise an effective treatment plan.


Also referred to as cardiac ultrasounds, with these detailed ultrasounds we can closely assess the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. This will tell us whether the heart is functioning properly and whether there is a malfunction in the heart. Though they are usually painless, echocardiograms require several measurements and calculations.

If your pet has a heart murmur or is showing signs of heart disease, they may be referred to our specialists for an echocardiogram. Once an abnormal part of an organ has been identified, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy allows us to obtain a tissue sample, which can then be examined under a microscope to reveal additional information. This will almost always result in a diagnosis.

Conditions Which May Mean Your Pet Could Benefit From an Ultrasound

The following are some of the most common reasons your dog or cat might need an ultrasound.

Heart Problems

If your dog or cat has a heart condition, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram to help evaluate the condition and function of your pet's heart and look for any abnormalities.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If your veterinarian finds any anomalies or abnormalities in your pet's urine tests or blood samples, they may recommend that your companion undergo an ultrasound to gain a better picture of their internal organs such as lymph nodes, kidneys, bladder, and more in order to try and identify what is causing the problem.

Diagnostic Imaging of Soft Tissue Injuries & Illness

Almost all kinds of soft tissue can be examined in detail thanks to ultrasound imaging technology. Some of the most common areas examined using ultrasound include:

  • Eyes
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Fetal viability and development
  • Thyroid glands

If abnormal tissue is spotted during an ultrasound, the vet may also use the ultrasound to help collect tissue samples from the affected area.

Ultrasound-Assisted Tissue Collection & Biopsies

Samples are typically collected using these methods:

  • Tru-Cut biopsies
  • Ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration

If your vet will be performing an ultrasound-assisted tissue collection, your pet will likely be sedated. We can perform biopsies in a less invasive manner with ultrasounds than with surgeries.

How To Prepare Your Dog or Cat for Their Ultrasound

Ultrasounds performed on different areas of your pet's body require different kinds of preparation. Ask your vets for the specific things you need to do to help prepare your pet for its ultrasound.

You may need to restrict your pet's eating and drinking for 8 to 12 hours prior to the procedure, especially for abdominal ultrasounds. Because your veterinarian can best examine your pet's bladder when it is full, you should avoid giving your cat or dog urine for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure.

The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated.

If, after an ultrasound, biopsies need to be conducted, your pet will require a heavy sedative to anesthetic to help them relax and prevent complications. Your vet will be sure to let you know if the is necessary.

Instant Ultrasound Results For a Fast Diagnosis

Because your veterinarians can perform an ultrasound in real-time, the results will be available immediately. Images obtained via ultrasound may need to be sent to a veterinary radiologist after being obtained for examination in some cases. In such cases, you may have to wait a few days before the final decision is made.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Does your pet need an ultrasound? We can help. Contact our Stockton vets at Rosemarie Pet Hospital to learn more about diagnostic imaging for your dog or cat. We may be able to provide you with a referral.

We're Always Welcoming New Patients

We can't wait to welcome you and your pet to the Rosemarie Pet Hospital family.

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