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Ultrasound for Dogs

Ultrasound for Dogs

If your vet suggests an ultrasound for your pet, it's normal to be worried. In this post, our Woburn vets are here to provide information and help you understand what to expect during a pet ultrasound.

Our beloved pets can experience various illnesses and conditions, such as tumors, cysts, or ingesting foreign objects that may cause internal blockages. Ultrasounds are a type of diagnostic imaging technique that uses sound waves to create real-time images of your dog's body.

Veterinary ultrasounds are quick and non-invasive tests that can be used to diagnose and assess a variety of internal organ problems in your dog. They can also help you keep track of your pet's pregnancy.

Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound

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

This helps us find issues like blockages, tumors, or other problems, ensuring we can offer the best treatment for your dog. 

Types of Ultrasounds

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

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


When we do thorough scans of the heart, also called cardiac ultrasound, we're looking closely at the heart and its surrounding parts, like the pericardial sac. This helps us check if the heart is working as it should or if there are any problems. Most of the time, these ultrasounds don't hurt, but they involve taking lots of measurements and doing some calculations.  

If your pet has recently been diagnosed with a heart murmur or is showing signs of heart disease, they may be referred to a specialist for an echocardiogram.

Sometimes, when an organ doesn't seem right, we can use an ultrasound to guide us while we take a tiny piece of tissue for a closer look under a  microscope. This biopsy aids in making a diagnosis in many instances.

Conditions Which May Mean Your Pet Could Benefit From an Ultrasound

Heart Problems

Your veterinarian may recommend a specialist for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram if your dog has been given a heart diagnosis. These tests can help assess the health and function of your pet's heart and look for any anomalies.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

Your veterinarian may suggest that your pet undergo an ultrasound if the results of urine or blood tests reveal any anomalies or abnormalities. This will give the doctor a better idea of your pet's internal organs, including the lymph nodes, kidneys, bladder, and more, and allow them to try to determine what is causing the problem.

Diagnostic Imaging of Soft Tissue Injuries & Illness

Thanks to ultrasound imaging technology, almost all kinds of soft tissue can be examined in detail. 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

Different ultrasounds may need different preparation. It's important to consult your vets for specific guidelines to help prepare your pet for the ultrasound.

Some ultrasounds, like abdominal ones, may require you to deprive your pet of food and water for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure. This allows for a more thorough examination of the abdominal region. It is best not to allow your cat or dog to urinate for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure in order for the bladder to be adequately assessed.

The area being examined will typically be shaved to ensure clear images can be obtained. While most pets remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some may require sedation to help them stay calm.

In the event that biopsies are needed after the ultrasound, your pet will require a stronger sedative or anesthesia to help them relax and prevent complications. Your vet will inform you if this is necessary.

Instant Ultrasound Results For a Fast Diagnosis

Because your veterinarians can perform an ultrasound in real-time, they will receive the results immediately. Images obtained through ultrasound may need to be sent to a veterinary radiologist after they have been obtained for examination in some cases. In such cases, you may need 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.

Is your dog scheduled for an ultrasound at Woburn Animal Hospital? Contact our Woburn vets today if you have any questions regarding your dog's procedure.

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Woburn Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of your pet. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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