As pet owners, ensuring the health and well-being of our furry companions is a top priority. This means staying informed about the diagnostic tools available to identify potential health issues. One such tool is the internal ultrasound, a non-invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that can give veterinarians valuable insights into your pet’s internal health. In this article, we will explore why your pet may need an internal ultrasound, what to expect during the procedure, and how it can help in maintaining your pet’s optimum health.

Why Your Pet May Need an Internal Ultrasound

Various factors can prompt your vet to suggest an internal ultrasound. These may include:

Early detection of health issues

Regular check-ups and screenings are crucial for early detection of potential health problems. An internal ultrasound can reveal hidden issues, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.

When an ultrasound reveals concerns with your pet’s internal organ function or structure, you may need to consult a specialist, such as a veterinary internist. These experts will help devise a comprehensive treatment plan to address any internal health challenges your pet faces.

Diagnosing unexplained clinical signs

If your pet exhibits unusual symptoms, such as sudden weight loss, lethargy, or changes in appetite, an internal ultrasound can help identify any underlying causes.

Assessing organ functions

Ultrasound scans enable accurate assessment of organ function and structure, crucial for diagnosing conditions affecting the liver, kidneys, pancreas, or spleen.

Pregnancy and reproductive health

Internal ultrasounds can monitor your pet’s pregnancy, confirm fetal viability, and detect any potential complications during the gestation period.

Monitoring cancer and treatment response

By tracking growth or shrinkage of tumors, as well as the response to treatments like chemotherapy, internal ultrasounds assist in making any necessary treatment adjustments.

What is an Ultrasound and How Does It Work?

Ultrasound technology uses high-frequency sound waves to create detailed images of your pet’s internal organs. The sound waves bounce off internal structures and are detected by a transducer, allowing veterinarians to visualize your pet’s organs in real-time.

Types of ultrasound

Depending on the specific health concern, various ultrasound types may be employed:

  • Abdominal ultrasound: Focused on the abdomen to assess organs like the liver, spleen, kidneys, and bladder.
  • Cardiac ultrasound: Also known as echocardiography, this technique assesses the heart’s functionality and structure.
  • Doppler ultrasound: Evaluates blood flow through your pet’s blood vessels, potentially detecting issues like blockages or poor circulation.
  • 3D and 4D ultrasound: Advanced imaging technology capturing three-dimensional images over time, providing comprehensive views of your pet’s internal structures.

Ultrasounds are non-invasive, painless, and safe for your pet, making them a valuable diagnostic tool in veterinary medicine.

Preparing Your Pet for an Internal Ultrasound

Before the procedure, ensure your pet is adequately prepared:

  • Pre-appointment care: Notify your veterinarian of any medications or special care your pet may require.
  • Fasting requirements: Pets typically need to fast for 8-12 hours before abdominal ultrasounds. Consult your vet for specific instructions.
  • Grooming and cleanliness procedures: Keeping your pet clean, especially in the targeted scan area, is vital for obtaining clear images.
  • Medications and medical history: Inform your veterinarian of any prescribed medications and general medical history of your pet.

In some cases, ultrasounds may prompt additional testing or lab work for a more accurate diagnosis. Your veterinarian will guide you through veterinary diagnostic options and work collaboratively with the clinic’s lab and pharmacy to ensure the best care for your pet.

The Internal Ultrasound Procedure

Checking in and pre-assessment

Upon arrival at the clinic, your pet will be checked in, and the veterinary team will conduct a pre-assessment to ensure they are ready for the procedure.

In most cases, pets remain awake and relaxed during ultrasounds without needing sedation. However, sedation may be necessary for highly anxious pets or those experiencing pain.

The ultrasound technician and your pet

Your pet will be positioned comfortably on their side or back, and a trained ultrasound technician will handle the procedure.

Application of ultrasound gel

Ultrasound gel is applied to the skin in the scanned area to enhance the sound wave-to-skin contact, providing better image quality.

Using a handheld device called a transducer, the technician will gently apply pressure and glide it over your pet’s skin to obtain images of the targeted organs.

Post-procedure care and follow-up

After the procedure, your pet can return home, resuming normal activities. Your veterinarian will review the images and discuss the findings and any recommendations for further tests or treatment.

Interpreting Ultrasound Results and Next Steps

Once the ultrasound is complete, your veterinarian will analyze the images, looking for signs of health issues or abnormalities.

If an internal ultrasound indicates the need for surgical intervention, it is essential to discuss possible options with your veterinarian. For example, if your pet requires dog surgery in Punta Gorda, FL, your veterinarian will recommend a skilled and experienced surgeon to perform the procedure and ensure the best possible outcome.


Internal ultrasounds are invaluable tools for diagnosing and monitoring your pet’s health. Understanding why your pet may need an internal ultrasound and what to expect during the procedure will ensure that you can make informed decisions and provide the best care for your beloved companion.