Why is veterinary ultrasound important?

Veterinary ultrasound plays a crucial role in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of various medical conditions affecting your pets. In an emergency situation, ultrasound allows our doctors to rapidly gather critical information about your pet's condition, aiding in quick decision-making and improving patient care and leading to a more positive outcome.

Ultrasound can be used at any stage of veterinary emergency medicine, making it an extremely important veterinary medicine tool.

chihuahua getting an ultrasound

Why would my pet need an emergency ultrasound?

Veterinarians can use ultrasound in pet emergencies for a wide variety of reasons:

  • Diagnostic Imaging: Ultrasound provides real-time images of internal organs, allowing our veterinarians to quickly assess the condition of your pet's organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, and bladder. In emergency situations, quick and accurate diagnosis is crucial for determining the appropriate course of treatment.
  • Trauma Assessment: In cases of trauma, such as being hit by a car or steep falls, ultrasound can help our doctors assess the extent of unseen damage or internal injuries. Determining if internal bleeding or organ damage is present is vital for making quick decisions about the urgency and type of veterinary treatment is needed.
  • Abdominal Issues: Pets presenting with acute abdominal pain or distress may require emergency ultrasound to identify conditions like ingested foreign bodies, intestinal blockages, torsion (twisting) of organs, or gastrointestinal issues. Early detection with ultrasound can lead to prompt intervention and better outcomes.
  • Cardiac Evaluations: Ultrasound can be used to evaluate the heart's function in cases of cardiac emergencies, such as arrhythmias, heart failure, or congenital heart defects. This leads our veterinarians to appropriate treatment strategies or performing emergency procedures.
  • Pregnancy Complications: In cases of pregnancy complications, such as difficult birth (dystocia), ultrasound can help determine the number of fetuses, their position, and whether intervention is necessary with Cesarean section (C-section) to assist with delivery.
  • Fluid Accumulation: Ultrasound is useful for detecting fluid accumulation in the chest or abdomen, which could indicate conditions like fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion) or fluid in the abdomen (ascites). Identifying these conditions promptly is important for appropriate emergency management.

Other conditions that our medical team can diagnose with ultrasound are:

  • Non–cancerous tumors
  • Cancerous tumors
  • Cysts
  • Liver conditions
  • Kidney conditions
  • Urinary conditions
  • Heart conditions
  • Mitral value disease
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

In an emergency situation, ultrasound allows veterinarians to rapidly gather critical information about a patient's condition, aiding in quick decision-making and improving the chances of a positive outcome.

Is your pet having an emergency? Call us immediately!


Sound waves are emitted through a small handheld probe on an ultrasound machine in measured pulses that penetrate your pet's skin that then echo off of his or her internal soft tissue organs. This echo is translated into images on a monitor that allows our veterinarians to evaluate your pet's organs and blood vessels in real time.

Depending on the area to be looked at, a portion of your pet’s fur may need to be clipped to get the best image. 


Pet ultrasound is non-invasive and painless. An ultrasound procedure can be done quickly, which is crucial in an emergency situation. If an ultrasound is necessary, it will help our veterinarians diagnose your pet's issue in a timely manner, making a treatment plan quick to develop and help alleviate any symptoms he or she is experiencing.