Ultrasound and X-ray for Pets

Pain-free and non-invasive medical tools that help veterinarians diagnose health conditions.

When we need to figure out what’s wrong with your dog or cat, we routinely use ultrasounds and X-rays to help identify the issue, rule out possible problems, or provide a list of possible causes. We also use diagnostic testing during a wellness exam to diagnose potential problems before they become serious.

Do ultrasounds and X-rays use the same technology?

Ultrasonography (also called ultrasound or sonography) is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure that uses sound waves to examine a dog or cat’s internal organs and other structures inside the body. Modern X-ray technology uses beams that are absorbed by specific internal structures, with limited radiation exposure. Ultrasounds and X-rays can be used alone or alongside other diagnostic tools. These technologies can capture images of: 

  • Gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), 
  • Respiratory tract (lungs)
  • Heart
  • Genitourinary system (bladder, prostate)
  • Fluid, cysts, tumours, or abscesses
  • Confirm and monitor pregnancy 

How are images captured in ultrasounds?

We may use this imaging technique in conjunction with radiography (x-rays) and other diagnostic methods to ensure a proper diagnosis. Interpretation of ultrasound images requires great skill on the part of the clinician. The ultrasonographer applies gel to the surface of the body and then methodically moves a transducer (a small handheld tool) across the skin to record images of the area of interest. The gel helps the transducer slide more easily and creates a more accurate visual image.

Why is sedation necessary in some cases?

To avoid a blurry image, your dog or cat needs to remain completely still while an X-ray is taken. In some cases, we may need to sedate your dog/cat or use short-acting general anesthesia. Ultrasound does not involve radiation and has no known side effects. They don't typically require dogs or cats to be sedated or anesthetized. The hair in the area that will be examined usually needs to be shaved so the ultrasonographer can obtain the best result. If you have questions about sedation or anesthesia, please contact us at 613-748-9820.

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