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Ultrasound Technology For Pets

Ultrasound is a helpful tool that many vets use frequently, but what does it actually show? Our Anaheim vets are here to explain the benefits of ultrasound imaging and what to expect from the procedure.

Our pets can develop all sorts of illnesses and conditions like tumors or cysts, or even eat things they shouldn't that can get lodged inside them. Ultrasounds are a kind of diagnostic imaging technology that transmits sound waves into your dog or cat's body in order to produce a picture in real-time of an area of their body.

Veterinary ultrasounds are fast, 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

Veterinary ultrasound is a helpful tool that your vet can use to view the structure of your pet's organs to discover and identify blockages, tumors or other problems.

At Anaheim Animal Care & Pet Hospital, ultrasounds are done in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Our team of vets uses our in-house ultrasound technology and other diagnostics to provide you with an accurate and fast diagnosis of your pet's condition. This allows us to provide treatment options right away.

The Types of Ultrasounds For Pets

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

If your pet sustains a traumatic injury or needs emergency care, an ultrasound will be used to look at the abdomen and chest to quickly learn 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 assist us in diagnosing the issue quickly. We can then plan effective treatment.


Also called a cardiac ultrasound, these can be used to closely monitor the heart and 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 was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur or is displaying signs of heart disease, they may be referred to our specialists for an echocardiogram. Once we identify an abnormal part of an organ, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy allows us to take a tissue sample, which can be inspected with a microscope to reveal more information. In many cases, this will result in a diagnosis.

Conditions That May Need An Ultrasound To Diagnose

Heart Problems

If your dog or cat has been diagnosed with a heart condition, your vet 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 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 that your companion get an ultrasound in order to gain a better picture of their internal organs like their lymph nodes, kidneys, bladder and more to try and identify what is causing the issue.

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 An Ultrasound

Preparation for an ultrasound will differ depending on which part of the body is being looked at. You'll want to ask your vet exactly what you need to do to prepare your pet for their specific case.

You may need to stop your pet from eating and drinking for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure, in particular before abdominal ultrasounds. Your vet will be able to be able to best examine your pet's bladder when it is full so for ultrasounds of that organ, you should ideal not have your cat or dog urinarte 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

Since ultrasounds are tests that work in real-time, your vet will often have the results right away. In some instances, images taken through ultrasound will have to be sent to a veterinary radiologist after they have been taken for examination. In cases like that, you may need to wait a few days before the final result is decided.

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.

Do you think your pet might benefit from an ultrasound? Contact our Anaheim vets today to schedule an appointment for your dog or cat. 

New Patients Welcome

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

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