Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Ultrasound Examination in Dogs

Ultrasound Examination in Dogs

You've just found out that your dog needs an ultrasound. So, what exactly is an ultrasound, and how can it benefit your dog? Our vets in Harlingen are here to explain how ultrasound scans are performed on dogs in our in-house veterinary diagnostic lab. 

Veterinary Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound comes to the rescue when your furry friends get into trouble or develop health issues like cysts or tumors. These ultrasounds use sound waves to create an image of a specific part of a pet's body.

The best part? Veterinary ultrasounds are gentle and don't involve any invasive procedures. They help diagnose problems with your dog's internal organs or monitor their pregnancy. 

Reasons Why Your Dog or Cat May Need An Ultrasound

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

At Altas Palmas Animal Clinic in Harlingen, 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.

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 ultrasound's sound waves are not harmful or painful to your cat or dog.

Conditions That May Require An Ultrasound

Heart Conditions

If your dog has a heart problem, your regular vet might send you to our specialist for a heat ultrasound. This helps assess your dog's heart condition and check for any issues. 

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results

If your vet finds odd results in your dog's blood or urine tests, they might suggest an abdominal ultrasound. this gives a clear view of your dog's internal organs like the spleen, kidneys, liver, and more to understand the cause of the abnormalities. 

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.

Ultrasound-Assisted Tissue Collection

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.

Types of Ultrasounds

Your vet may perform these two types of ultrasounds:

Emergency Ultrasound

If your dog has an emergency, the ultrasound will 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).

This helps the vet diagnose the problem fast so they can start treatment quickly. 


Also known as cardiac ultrasounds, these detailed ultrasounds help us closely check the heart and the structures around it, like 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 To Prepare Your Pet for an Ultrasound

When we find a problem in an organ, we can do an ultrasound-guided biopsy. This collects a sample from the troubled tissue. 

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. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated.

If your pet needs biopsies, they'll get a strong sedative or short-acting anesthetic to relax during the procedure. Your vet will tell you if this is needed.

Getting 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. You may need to wait a few days for the final result in these cases.

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 dog in need of an ultrasound? In Altas Palmas Animal Clinic, a high-tech diagnostic lab has the tools required for quick and inefficient imaging. Reach out to us today to schedule your dog an appointment. 

Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at Altas Palmas Animal Clinic are now accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about keeping the cats and dogs of Harlingen happy and healthy. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (956) 423-3322