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Ultrasound Examinations for Dogs

Is your canine companion in need of diagnostic imaging? Would you like to learn more about what to expect? Our vets in Crystal Lake talk about ultrasounds for dogs, what happens during an ultrasound examination, and what they tell us about the health of your pet.

Dogs & Ultrasounds

Pets can commonly develop health issues such as cysts or tumors that require medical treatment, or they may accidentally ingest harmful substances. In such cases, a veterinarian may recommend an ultrasound to assess the problem and determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

An ultrasound is a type of imaging technology that uses sound waves to create an image of a specific area of your pet's body. This non-invasive procedure can be used to diagnose or evaluate internal organ problems or monitor pregnancy in animals.

Why might your dog need an ultrasound?

Our veterinary team in CASE Hospital offers dog ultrasounds at our in-house diagnostic laboratory in Crystal Lake. This procedure enables us to examine your pet's internal organs and identify any obstructions, tumors, or other medical concerns accurately. Our experienced veterinarians use a combination of ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to deliver the most effective treatment for your beloved pet. 

Ultrasounds can detect the presence of foreign bodies or fluid in soft tissue masses, a task that may be challenging with a digital X-ray. The procedure is completely safe and painless for your furry friend as it only involves the use of harmless sound waves. Trust us to provide the most reliable and comprehensive care for your pet's health.

Conditions Requiring Veterinary Ultrasounds

Here are some conditions that commonly require veterinary ultrasounds. 

Abnormal Blood or Urine Test Results 

Did your veterinarian discover any irregularities in your pet's blood or urine tests? If so, they might suggest an abdominal ultrasound to accurately assess your pet's internal organs, including the kidneys, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, urinary bladder, or other areas. This diagnostic test can help determine the underlying cause of the abnormalities.

Heart Conditions 

If your beloved pet has been diagnosed with a heart condition, it may be essential to perform a heart ultrasound or echocardiogram. This will assist in evaluating your furry friend's heart health and detecting any possible irregularities.

Examination of Soft Tissues 

Almost all soft tissues can be examined using ultrasound technology. Some of the most common areas that ultrasounds are used to check include:

  • Fetal vitality and development
  • Eyes
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons
  • Thyroid glands 

If abnormal tissue is detected during an ultrasound, your veterinarian may also use this imaging technology to help collect tissue samples from the area that's been affected. 

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 Canine Ultrasounds

Your veterinarian may conduct two types of ultrasounds or recommend a veterinary specialist to carry out the examinations.

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 has a serious internal hemorrhage (bleeding) or pneumothorax (a condition in which gas or air collects in the space surrounding the lungs). This can assist us in diagnosing the issue quickly. We can then plan effective treatment.


Detailed ultrasounds, also known as cardiac ultrasounds, can provide a close assessment of the heart and its surrounding structures, including the pericardial sac. This helps determine if the heart is functioning properly or if there is a malfunction. While echocardiograms are generally painless, they do require several measurements and calculations.

If your pet has been diagnosed with a heart murmur or displays signs of heart disease, they may need to see our specialists for an echocardiogram. If an abnormal part of an organ is identified, an ultrasound-guided biopsy can be performed to collect a sample of the affected tissue. This biopsy can provide valuable information when inspected under a microscope and in many cases, lead to a diagnosis.

How to Prepare Your Dog or Puppy for an Ultrasound

Ultrasounds on different areas of the body require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for their ultrasound.

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 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 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 to Expect When Receiving Ultrasound Results for Dogs

Our veterinary team is equipped to perform real-time ultrasounds for pets, providing almost immediate results. However, in certain instances, ultrasound images may require further consultation with a veterinary radiologist, which could lead to a brief waiting period of 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.

Your veterinarian at CASE Hospital can tell you whether your pet will need an ultrasound. Please contact our Crystal Lake veterinarians to book an appointment for an exam.

New Patients Welcome

Companion Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital is accepting new patients! Our specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions in Crystal Lake.

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Contact (815) 479-9119