Abdominal Ultrasound in Dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

An abdominal ultrasound may be used to diagnose a myriad of conditions in dogs. An abdominal ultrasound may be performed by a veterinarian if an X-ray or blood test indicates a problem with the dog's internal organs such as the liver or spleen. An ultrasound is a painless procedure that is well tolerated by most dogs.


An abdominal ultrasound works by transmitting ultrasound waves from a probe that is rubbed over the dog's abdomen. A conductive gel is placed on the dog's abdomen to allow the probe to move freely. The sound waves emitted from the probe produce a reflected image on a computer screen, allowing the sonographer to create images of the dog's internal organs. This is a safe procedure, that takes 20 to 60 minutes to complete.


An abdominal ultrasound is beneficial in diagnosing conditions in dogs. Dogs that present with symptoms of unexplained vomiting, diarrhoea, straining to urinate or urinating blood may benefit from an ultrasound. Veterinarians may also perform an abdominal ultrasound on dogs that have undiagnosed problems with the liver, spleen or pancreas. An ultrasound may be able to detect a tumour that is located in these areas as well. An abdominal ultrasound is useful in diagnosing conditions that veterinarians previously would have had to perform exploratory surgery to diagnose. An ultrasound is a safer and pain-free alternative for dogs.


According to, an abdominal ultrasound poses no risk to dogs, unless a veterinarian performs a fine needle aspiration or biopsy at the time of ultrasound. In rare cases, a biopsy may lead to haemorrhage or damage to an internal organ. However, a biopsy performed under abdominal ultrasound is still safer than exploratory surgery that requires general anaesthesia.


Sedation or general anaesthesia is usually not required with abdominal ultrasound in dogs. Dogs that have difficulty lying on their backs may need some sedation in order for the test to be performed properly. Dogs that have a fine needle aspiration or biopsy during the ultrasound may receive a local anesthetic or light sedation.


An abdominal ultrasound is a diagnostic test that can be helpful in diagnosing medical conditions in dogs. However, abdominal ultrasound requires the use of expensive equipment and trained sonographers to administer the test. Many veterinarians need to refer their patients to clinics that administer abdominal ultrasound.

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About the Author

Tracy Hodge has been a professional writer since 2007. She currently writes content for various websites, specializing in health and fitness. Hodge also does ghostwriting projects for books, as well as poetry pieces. She has studied nutrition extensively, especially bodybuilding diets and nutritional supplements.