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

Tumors, cysts, and ingesting foreign objects that cause internal blockages are all possible illnesses and conditions that our beloved pets can suffer from. Ultrasounds are a type of diagnostic imaging technique that produces real-time images of your dog's or cat's body.

Veterinary ultrasounds are quick and non-invasive tests that can diagnose and assess a wide range of internal organ problems in your pet. They can also help you monitor your pet's pregnancy.

Reasons Your Pet May Need An Ultrasound

An ultrasound can help our Boulder and Westminster veterinarians examine the structure of your pet's organs, allowing us to detect and identify blockages, tumors, and other issues.

Ultrasounds are done in our veterinary diagnostic lab at . Our veterinarians use ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to accurately diagnose your pet's medical issues, allowing us to provide the best possible treatment.

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 see if there is a serious internal hemorrhage (bleeding) or a pneumothorax. This will allow us to quickly diagnose the problem. Then we can develop an effective treatment plan.


These thorough scans, also known as cardiac ultrasounds, allow us to look closely at the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. They help determine whether the heart is beating normally or if there are any abnormalities. Although most echocardiograms are painless, they require several measurements and calculations.

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

When an organ exhibits abnormalities, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be used to obtain a tissue sample for further examination under a microscope. This biopsy aids in making a diagnosis in many cases.

Conditions Which May Mean Your Pet Could Benefit From an Ultrasound

Heart Problems

If your dog or cat has a heart condition, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist for a heart ultrasound or echocardiography. These tests can help you assess your pet's heart health and function, as well as look for any abnormalities.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If the results of your pet's urine or blood tests show any anomalies or abnormalities, your veterinarian may recommend an ultrasound. This will give the doctor a better understanding of your pet's internal organs, such as the lymph nodes, kidneys, bladder, and others, allowing them to try to figure out 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 necessitate special preparations. Consult your veterinarian for specific guidelines on how to prepare your pet for the ultrasound.

Certain ultrasounds, such as abdominal ultrasounds, may necessitate denying your pet food and water for 8 to 12 hours prior to the procedure. This allows for a more detailed examination of the abdominal area. To ensure that your cat or dog's bladder is properly assessed, do not allow them to urinate for 3 to 6 hours before the procedure.

To obtain clear images, the area under examination is usually shaved. While most pets are still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some may require sedation to remain calm.

If biopsies are required following the ultrasound, your pet will need a stronger sedative or anesthesia to relax and avoid complications. Your veterinarian will let you know if this is necessary.

Instant Ultrasound Results For a Fast Diagnosis

Because your veterinarians can perform ultrasounds in real time, they will receive the results right away. Images obtained via ultrasound may need to be sent to a veterinary radiologist for examination in some cases. In such cases, you may have to wait a few days before the final decision is reached.

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 ? Contact our Boulder and Westminster vets today if you have any questions regarding your pet's procedure.