Skip to Main Content

Ask About Financing

Ultrasound for Dogs and Cats

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

What are ultrasounds for pets?

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 or cat's body. This means that ultrasounds use no radiation.

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

Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound

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

Ultrasounds are performed in our veterinary diagnostic laboratory at Bowman Road Animal Clinic. Our veterinarians use ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet's medical issues, allowing us to provide the most effective treatment possible.

Types of Ultrasounds

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

If your pet is in distress, the ultrasound will usually focus on the abdomen and chest to determine whether your dog or cat 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.


These thorough scans, also known as cardiac ultrasounds, enable us to closely inspect the heart and its encircling structures, including the pericardial sac. They aid in figuring out whether the heart is beating normally or if there are any anomalies. Although most echocardiograms are painless, they require a number of 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.

In cases where an organ shows abnormalities, 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 an Ultrasound Can Diagnose

Below, we'll lost some of the most common uses of ultrasounds for pets.

Heart Problems

Your veterinarian may recommend a specialist for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram if your dog or cat 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

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 Their Ultrasound

Different ultrasounds performed on your pet's body may require specific preparations. It's important to consult your vets for the specific guidelines to help prepare your pet for the ultrasound.

Certain ultrasounds, such as abdominal ultrasounds, 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. Anesthesia is typically not needed for a pet ultrasound, as the procedure is non-invasive and painless. However, in some cases where the pet is particularly anxious or uncooperative, sedation may be used to ensure accurate results.

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. Treatment options will then be discussed with the veterinarian based on the ultrasound findings.

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.

Has your vet suggested that you dog or cat could benefit from an ultrasound? Contact our Little Rock vets today to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Bowman Road Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Little Rock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (501) 223-3737