Ultrasound is rapid, radiation-free and uses sound waves to capture a live stream of what is going on inside without the need to make an incision.

The sound waves in ultrasound machines are similar to radar and sonar – technologies used by the military and law-enforcement to find planes and ships that can’t be seen with the eyes.

What happens during an ultrasound?

First the ultrasound is best performed when the pet is fasted to avoid gas in the intestines distroting the images.

The tummy fur must be clipped so that the ultrasound probe can pass smoothly over the belly.  Special ultrasound gel is massaged over the tummy.

Images are taken with precision and saved as the examination continues for about 20 minutes. Depending on the area examined, the pet may have to be positioned differently to acquire the pictures and video.

The gel is then wiped off the tummy and the Doctor reviews the images, or sends the pictures and videos to a radiologist for a second opinion.


1. Diarrhoea and vomiting: Gastrointestinal signs like vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, being off food and losing condition are all signs that can be caused by many problems that an ultrasound scan can diagnose.

The following conditions can all cause vomiting and diarrhoea signs in dogs and cats:

    • Gallbladder stones
    • Liver disease
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
    • Pancreatitis
    • Foreign Body Obstructions


2. Planning if surgery is required
If free fluid is detected on an ultrasound scan, this could indicate a perforation or obstruction in the gut and surgery is the best thing to do.