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

If your veterinarian recommends an ultrasound for your pet, it's natural to feel concerned. In this post, our Diamond Bar vets are here to provide you with information and help you understand what to expect during a pet ultrasound.

Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Diamond Bar Veterinary Clinic

Our pets are prone to several illnesses and conditions, such as tumors, cysts, or ingesting foreign objects that can cause internal blockages. Ultrasounds are a diagnostic imaging technique that uses sound waves to generate real-time images of your cat or dog's body. Veterinary ultrasounds are quick, non-invasive, and can be used to diagnose and evaluate various internal organ problems in your pet. They are also helpful for monitoring your pet's pregnancy.

Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound

Our vets inDiamond Bar can perform ultrasounds to examine your pet's organs and detect any blockages, tumors, or other medical issues. At Diamond Bar Veterinary Clinic, we have an in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory where our vets use diagnostic tools, including ultrasounds, to diagnose accurately. With the help of these tools, we can identify your pet's medical problems and offer the most effective treatment possible."

Types of Ultrasounds

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

If your pet is in an emergency situation, the ultrasound will typically concentrate on the abdomen and chest areas to quickly determine whether your dog or cat is experiencing a serious internal hemorrhage (bleeding) or pneumothorax (a condition in which gas or air accumulates in the area surrounding the lungs). This can help us diagnose the problem quickly and plan for effective treatment.


Cardiac ultrasounds, also known as echocardiograms, are detailed scans that allow us to closely examine the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. They help us determine whether the heart is functioning properly or if there are any abnormalities. Although echocardiograms are generally painless, they involve taking various measurements and 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. This test is particularly useful in cases where an organ shows abnormalities. If necessary, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to obtain a tissue sample for further examination 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

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

Ultrasound technology allows for detailed examination of various soft tissues, including commonly examined areas:

  • 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 performs 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 require specific preparations for your pet's body. It is essential to consult your vet for specific guidelines to help prepare your pet for the ultrasound.

For some ultrasounds, like abdominal ultrasounds, you may need to withhold food and water from your pet for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure. This will allow for a better examination of the abdominal area. In the case of bladder ultrasounds, it is advisable not to allow your cat or dog to urinate for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure so that the bladder can be adequately assessed.

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

If biopsies are necessary after the ultrasound, your pet will require a stronger sedative or anesthesia to help them remain calm and prevent complications. Your vet will inform you if this is necessary.

Instant Ultrasound Results For a Fast Diagnosis

Your veterinarians can conduct real-time ultrasound scans, which means you will receive the results right away. However, in certain cases, the ultrasound images may need to be sent to a veterinary radiologist for further examination, which may result in a delay of a few days before the final outcome is 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 Diamond Bar Veterinary Clinic? Contact our Diamond Bar vets today if you have questions about your pet's procedure.

New Patients Welcome

Diamond Bar Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Diamond Bar companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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