Ultrasounds For Cats & Dogs

Sometimes your vet will use technology such as ultrasounds to help monitor or diagnose conditions within your pet. Our Doraville vets talk about how ultrasounds work, what they can show us about your cat or dog and what the different types are.

Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: Ultrasounds

If your pet is experiencing symptoms related to a growth such as a tumor or has eaten something they should have, an ultrasound may be the ideal solution for diagnosing your furry friend. Ultrasounds are a form of imaging technology that transmits sound waves into your pet’s body to produce a 'picture' of a specific part of the body.

Ultrasounds for cats and dogs can be an ideal option for seeing what is happening with your pet's internal structures in a non-invasive manner.

Why will your cat or dog need an ultrasound?

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

At WellPet Humane, ultrasounds are done in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Our team of veterinarians uses ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to provide an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical issues, so we can provide your pet with the most effective treatment possible.

Through the use of ultrasound, we are able to distinguish soft tissue masses from foreign bodies or fluid - a task we might find challenging or impossible to accomplish with a digital X-ray. The sound waves produced during an ultrasound will not cause any pain to your pet and are completely harmless.

What can be done using ultrasound technology?

Diagnosis of Heart Conditions

If the veterinary ultrasound shows any signs of heart concerns your vet will likely refer you to a veterinary cardiologist in the Doraville area to help diagnose and treat your cat or dog.

Noting Abnormalities of the Blood or Urine

If your vet discovers abnormalities in your pet’s blood or urine tests, they may recommend an abdominal ultrasound in order to get a clear picture of the health of your pet's internal organs such as the lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys, liver, urinary bladder or other areas to learn why the abnormalities are occurring.

Performing an Examination of Soft Tissues

Almost all soft tissues can be examined thanks to ultrasound technology. A few of the most common areas that ultrasounds are used on include:

  • Ligaments
  • Eyes
  • Fetal viability and development
  • Tendons
  • 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.

Tissue Collections Using Ultrasound as a Guide

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.

What are the different types of veterinary ultrasound?

There are two main types of ultrasounds that we commonly perform, they are:

Emergency Ultrasound

If your pet is experiencing an emergency, the ultrasound will usually focus on 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).

Ultrasounds help us to see what is happening, diagnose and begin treatment as quickly as possible.


Also referred to as cardiac ultrasounds, with these detailed ultrasounds we can closely assess the heart and its 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.

How should you get your cat or dog ready for an ultrasound?

The method of preparation for your pet's ultrasound will depend on the area that is to be scanned. Your vet will provide you with direct instructions on what you will need to do to get your cat or dog ready.

You may be required to withhold food and water for between 8 and 12 hours, particularly for abdominal ultrasounds. We can best examine the urinary bladder when it is full of urine. This is why your cat or dog should not urinate for about 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.

The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. Many pets are just fine during the ultrasound but others may be sedated to help keep them still allowing the vet to work safely and efficiently.

If biopsies need to be done, your pet will need a heavy sedative or short-acting anesthetic to help them relax during the procedure and prevent potential complications that could impede success. Your veterinarian will let you know if this is necessary.

What can you expect from your pet's ultrasound results?

Because our veterinarians can perform an ultrasound in real-time, we can see results almost immediately. In some cases, ultrasound images will be sent to a veterinary radiologist after they’re captured for further consultation. In these cases, you may need to wait a few days for the final result.

How do the vet lab and pet pharmacy work together?

Once your pet has been diagnosed your vet will then recommend the treatment options that best suit their condition. This may include offering prescriptions for medications that you can have filled at our onsite veterinary pharmacy.

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.

If your dog or cat requires a veterinary ultrasound please reach out to our Doraville vets. We are here to help with your pet's diagnostic needs.