Skip to Main Content

Pet Parent's Guide to Ultrasound for Dogs & Cats

Has your vet recommended an ultrasound for your cat or dog but you aren't sure why? In today's post, you will learn why ultrasound is a valuable tool when diagnosing conditions in dogs and cats, what these images can tell your vet, and how to prepare for your pet's ultrasound appointment.

Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging

Our pets can develop all sorts of illnesses and conditions such as tumors or cysts and get into things they shouldn't that may get lodged inside them. Ultrasound is a diagnostic imaging technology that transmits sound waves into the body to produce a moving image of a specific body part.

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

Why does my pet need an ultrasound?

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

At Wachusett Animal Hospital and Pet Retreat, ultrasounds are done in our in-house diagnostic lab. Our team uses ultrasound scans, and other diagnostic tools, to help us provide pet parents with detailed diagnoses of their pets' medical issues.

What conditions can an ultrasound help with?

Ultrasound technology certainly isn't the right tool for every condition. However, there are a range of issues that ultrasound can be particularly helpful in diagnosing and understanding better.

Ultrasound often plays a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:

Heart Conditions

If your dog or cat has been diagnosed with a heart condition, your vet may recommend a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram to help evaluate the condition and function of your pet's heart and to search for any abnormalities.  

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If your veterinarian discovers any anomalies or abnormalities in your pet's urine tests or blood samples, they may recommend an ultrasound to get a better picture of your pet's internal organs (such as lymph nodes, kidneys, or bladder) to try and determine the cause of the issue. 

Examination of Soft Tissues

Almost all kinds of soft tissue can be examined in detail with the help of 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.

How should I prepare for my pet's ultrasound?

Ultrasounds performed on different areas of your pet's body require different kinds of preparation. Ask your veterinarian for specific instructions related to your pet's ultrasound appointment. 

For example, if your pet is scheduled for an abdominal ultrasound, they may need to fast for 8 to 12 hours before the appointment. If the ultrasound will be of the bladder, your vet may request that you try to prevent your pet from urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure. When the bladder is full your vet can often get a better image of the area.  

At the start of the ultrasound appointment, the area to be examined may need to be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets are content to remain still and cooperative during an ultrasound, more anxious or fidgety pets may need to be sedated.

If, after an ultrasound, biopsies need to be conducted, your pet will require a heavy sedative or anesthetic to help them relax and prevent complications. Your vet will be sure to let you know if that will be necessary in your dog or cat's case. 

When will I get my pet's ultrasound results?

Since your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound in real-time, in many cases results are analyzed and provided to pet parents immediately. That said. in some cases, ultrasound images need to be sent to a veterinary radiologist to be interpreted. If that is the case for your pet's ultrasound results, you may need to wait a few days before receiving the final diagnosis.

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.

Could your pet benefit from an ultrasound? Contact our Westminster vets today to learn more about our in-house diagnostic imaging!

Welcoming Cats & Dogs to Our Animal Hospital

Wachusett Animal Hospital and Pet Retreat is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Westminster companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(978) 874-4100 Contact

Ask About Financing