What to expect when your pet is scheduled for an ultrasound


Withhold food (water is ok) from midnight the evening prior to the scheduled exam.

This is because of the possibility of the need for sedation or anesthesia and also because food in the stomach can block the ability to image organs around the stomach. The exception to fasting is for cases of diabetes and hypoglycemia. Echocardiograms do not necessarily require fasting, however, it is still advised due to the possible need for sedation.


Most pets do not require any sedation or anesthesia for an ultrasound study. If a pet is highly stressed by the procedure, or if a biopsy is being performed, a sedative may be necessary in order to perform a thorough exam. Your vet may ask you for approval to give your pet a sedative if necessary.


Your pet will most likely need an area of hair clipped on their abdomen or chest. Clipping the area to be scanned and applying a coupling agent like gel or alcohol minimizes air interposition between the transducer and the skin and allows for proper imaging.


Your veterinarian will have you drop your pet off the morning of the exam. A time window of arrival will be given to your veterinarian that same morning. Unfortunately in a mobile setting, time windows are prone to changing and that is why it is important to have your pet at the hospital for the day. Many times during a typical day, emergency ultrasound appointments are added into the schedule, which may change the time of arrival originally given to the hospital in the morning.


At the time of the exam, the sonographer will relay preliminary findings to your veterinarian and then typically within 24 hours or less a formal report will be issued and your veterinarian will discuss the findings with you.