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Ultrasound for Dogs & Cats: What Pet Owners Want to Know

If your cat or dog needs an ultrasound, you may have many questions. Our veterinarians in Meadow Vista are here to provide answers and explain the process.

Pets can suffer from various illnesses and conditions such as tumors, cysts, or accidental ingestion of objects that can get stuck inside them. Ultrasound is a type of diagnostic imaging technology that sends sound waves into the body of your dog or cat to produce a real-time image of a specific area within their body. Veterinary ultrasounds are quick, non-invasive, and can be utilized to diagnose or evaluate various issues with your pet's internal organs or to monitor your pet's pregnancy.

Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound

Our veterinary team at Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic provides ultrasound services to help examine the structure of your pet's organs. This diagnostic tool allows us to detect blockages, tumors, and other medical issues. Ultrasounds are conducted in our in-house laboratory by our experienced veterinarians, who use them along with other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis. Our goal is to identify any potential medical problems with your pet so that we can provide the most effective treatment possible.

Types of Ultrasounds

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

In case of an emergency with your pet, the ultrasound examination will typically concentrate on the abdomen and chest areas to promptly identify whether your dog or cat is suffering from a serious internal hemorrhage (bleeding) or pneumothorax (a condition where gas or air accumulates in the space surrounding the lungs). This helps us quickly diagnose the problem and subsequently plan effective treatment to restore your pet's health.


Cardiac ultrasounds, also known as echocardiograms, are detailed scans that use ultrasound to closely examine the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. These tests help determine whether the heart is functioning properly or if there are any malfunctions. They are usually painless but require several measurements and calculations.

If your pet has been diagnosed with a heart murmur or is showing signs of heart disease, they may be referred to a specialist for an echocardiogram. If an abnormality is detected, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy helps us inspect the tissue sample with a microscope, providing more information, which can often lead to a diagnosis.

Conditions Which May Mean Your Pet Could Benefit From an Ultrasound

Heart Problems

 If your dog or cat has been diagnosed with a heart condition, your veterinarian may recommend taking your pet to a specialist for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram to evaluate the condition and function of the heart and detect any abnormalities.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If your veterinarian discovers any irregularities or abnormalities in your pet's blood or urine tests, they might recommend an ultrasound to obtain a clearer view of your pet's internal organs, such as their kidneys, bladder, lymph nodes, and more. This procedure can help identify the underlying cause of the problem.

Diagnostic Imaging of Soft Tissue Injuries & Illness

Ultrasound imaging technology allows for detailed examination of various soft tissues, including:

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

If abnormal tissue is detected during an ultrasound, the vet may use the ultrasound to guide the collection of 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 veterinarian will be performing an ultrasound-guided biopsy, your pet will likely be sedated. Ultrasound-guided biopsies are less invasive than surgeries.

How To Prepare Your Dog or Cat for Their Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are a type of medical imaging used to diagnose and monitor health conditions in pets. Different areas of the body require specific preparation for an ultrasound. Therefore, it is crucial to ask your veterinarian for specific instructions on how to prepare your pet for the procedure.

For abdominal ultrasounds, your pet may need to fast for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure. This means you should prevent your pet from consuming any food or water during that time. Following this instruction closely helps produce clearer images.

In some cases, your veterinarian may want to examine your pet's bladder during the ultrasound, and it's best to have it full. For these types of ultrasounds, you should ideally not have your pet urinate for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure.

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

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

Instant Ultrasound Results For a Fast Diagnosis

Your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound on your pet in real time, which means that the results will be available immediately. However, in some cases, the images taken through the ultrasound may need to be sent to a veterinary radiologist for further examination. If this is the case, it may take a few days before the final results are determined.

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.

Is your pet scheduled for an ultrasound at Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic? Contact our Meadow Vista vets today if you have any questions regarding your pet's procedure.

New Patients Welcome

Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients including dogs, cats and large animals. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

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