Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Ultrasounds for Dogs & Cats

You've just found out that your dog or cat needs an ultrasound. So, what exactly is an ultrasound and how can it help your pet? Our Murfreesboro specialist vets explain how ultrasound scans are performed on pets in our in-house veterinary diagnostic lab. 

Veterinary Ultrasound Imaging for Pets

Our pets frequently get into things they shouldn't or develop health issues such as cysts or tumors that require treatment. Ultrasound imaging is a type of imaging technology that uses sound waves to create a 'picture' of a specific part of your pet's body.

Veterinary ultrasounds are non-invasive and can diagnose or evaluate problems with your pet's internal organs or check on your pet's pregnancy.

Reasons Why Your Dog or Cat May Need An Ultrasound

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

At Animal Medical Center in Murfreesboro ultrasounds are done in our in-house veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Our team of veterinary specialists 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.

We can distinguish soft tissue masses from foreign bodies or fluid by using ultrasound, which would be difficult or impossible to do with a digital x-ray. The sound waves produced by the ultrasound are not harmful or painful to your cat or dog.

Conditions That May Require An Ultrasound

The following conditions may require an ultrasound for your pet.

Heart Conditions

If your cat or dog has a heart condition, your primary care veterinarian may refer you to our specialists for a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram to evaluate your animal's overall heart health and look for abnormalities.

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If your veterinarian notices any irregularities in your pet's blood or urine tests, he or she may recommend an abdominal ultrasound 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 determine why the abnormalities are occurring.

Examination of Soft Tissues

Ultrasound technology allows for the examination of nearly all soft tissues. Among the most common applications for ultrasounds are:

  • 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.

Ultrasound-Assisted Tissue Collection

Samples are typically collected using these methods:

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

Your pet will most likely be sedated if your veterinarian performs ultrasound-assisted tissue collection. Ultrasounds allow us to perform biopsies in a less invasive manner than surgeries.

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 a pneumothorax (a condition in which gas or air collects in the space surrounding the lungs).

This can assist your emergency vet in diagnosing the issue quickly so that an effective treatment plan can be put into action as soon 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.

After identifying an abnormal part of an organ, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy provides us with a tissue sample, which can then be examined under a microscope to reveal more information. This almost always leads to a diagnosis.

How To Prepare Your Pet for an Ultrasound

Ultrasounds on different parts of your pet's body require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for its ultrasound.

You may be asked to fast for 8 to 12 hours before having an abdominal ultrasound. We can examine the urinary bladder more thoroughly when it is full of urine. If possible, your cat or dog should not urinate for 3 to 6 hours prior to the ultrasound.

The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some must be sedated.

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.

Getting Your Pet's Ultrasound Results

Because our veterinarians can perform real-time ultrasounds, we can see results almost immediately. Ultrasound images are sometimes sent to a veterinary radiologist for further consultation after they have been captured. In these cases, you may have to wait a few days for the final result.

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.

Does your cat or dog require an ultrasound?  Our diagnostic lab at Animal Medical Center is equipped with the advanced technology our specialists need to provide fast and efficient diagnostic imaging so that your pet's treatment can begin as soon as possible. Contact us right away to book an appointment for your pet.

New Patients Always Welcome

Animal Medical Center is happy to welcome new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Murfreesboro companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

Book Online (615) 867-7575