What You Need to Know About Ultrasounds for Your Cat or Dog

Your vet has recommended an ultrasound for your cat or dog. What is this procedure, and how can it help your pet? Our Thomasville vets explain.


What is an ultrasound?

Experienced pet owners know that despite their best efforts, their curious four-legged friends may wander into things they shouldn’t, or develop tumors or conditions that need treatment. Ultrasounds transmit sound waves into your pet’s body, producing an image of specific internal structures.

Your vet can also use this safe, non-invasive technology to diagnose pericardial effusion and hemoabdomen (blood around the heart and in the abdomen).

Why does my pet need an ultrasound?

With an ultrasound, your vet can view the architecture of your pet’s organs so objects can be identified and found.

At Thomasville Veterinary Hospital Urgent Care + Surgery, our veterinarians use ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical issues, so effective treatment can be administered.

This tool allows us to tell soft tissue masses, fluid and foreign bodies apart - a task that may prove challenging to achieve with a digital x-ray. The sound waves the ultrasound generates will not be harmful or painful for your cat or dog.

Here are a few examples of conditions that may require an ultrasound to detect:

Heart Conditions

If your dog or cat has a heart condition, your vet may recommend an echocardiogram to help find out whether your pet will require heart medication.

Examination of Soft Tissues

An ultrasound can be used to examine almost all of the body’s soft tissues to evaluate:

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

If abnormal tissue is discovered during the ultrasound, a vet may be able to collect tissue samples.

How are samples collected?

These methods are typically used to collect samples:

  • Tri-Cut biopsies
  • Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration

Your dog may need to be sedated with these methods. Biopsies can be performed with ultrasound imaging, in a less invasive manner than surgery would entail.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If abnormalities are discovered in your dog’s blood or urine tests, an abdominal ultrasound may be recommended.

This can help our veterinary team see internal organs such as lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys, urinary bladder, liver or other areas to find out what’s causing the specific abnormalities.

Types of Ultrasounds

Your met may perform either of these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasounds

In emergency situations, ultrasounds are typically focused on the chest and abdomen to quickly look for pneumothorax (a condition in which gas or air collects in the area surrounding the lungs) or serious internal hemorrhaging (bleeding).

Emergency ultrasounds can help us identify and diagnose the problem quickly, then plan effective treatment.

Echocardiograms

Also known as cardiac ultrasounds, echocardiograms help us closely examine the heart and the structures around it, including the pericardial sac, to determine whether the heart is functioning correctly. If your pet’s heart is malfunctioning, it can also help reveal the issue.

Typically painless, these detailed ultrasounds need numerous measurements and calculations. Your vet may recommend one if your pet was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur or is displaying signs of heart disease.

How should I prepare for a veterinary ultrasound?

Ask your vet how you should prepare for the ultrasound. Leading up to your pet’s ultrasound appointment, you may need to withhold water and food for 8 to 12 hours, specifically for abdominal ultrasounds.

The area to be examined by your vet will be shaved, so clear images can be captured. While most pets won’t have trouble holding still during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated.

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 have questions about your upcoming ultrasound at Thomasville Veterinary Hospital Urgent Care + Surgery? Our Thomasville vets are here to diagnose and treat your pet, and effectively address your concerns. If your pet has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition and requires specialty veterinary care, contact us today to book a consultation.

About Ultrasounds for Cats & Dogs, Thomasville Vet

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New patients always welcome!

Whether you need urgent care for your pet or you're looking for a vet in Davidson County, we welcome you to our family at Thomasville Veterinary Hospital Urgent Care + Surgery.

Referrals may be required for some specialty services. Please contact us to learn more.

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