Diagnostic testing is a window into the pet's
During a physical examination we can get a general idea of an
animal's health. It is however, limited to the things we can see, (hair
coat, mucus membranes) or the things we can hear, (heart and lung
sounds). Many of the vital organs that keep our pet's body running do
not give outward signs until disease or illness is in advanced stages.
Most of the diagnostics that your pet will experience are the same
tests run during a routine human doctor visit.
seemingly healthy pets, diagnostic tests can detect pre-existing
conditions such as anemia or kidney function problems. Also, doing
blood work on younger animals gives us a base line with which to monitor
and track their health throughout their lives. Small changes can be
significant in diagnosing and treating diseases later in life. The doctor may choose to run a simple in-house blood panel, with results
taking as little as 20 minutes, or she may decide a more comprehensive
panel sent out to the laboratory is required, in which case results
usually take 24 hours.
For older or
sick animals it is extremely important to run full panel blood screens.
Many diseases are present long before a pet shows any outward signs.
For sick or senior animals, diagnostic tests are used to diagnose
illness and disease, monitor organ degeneration, and monitor response
to medication. Depending on your pet's health and stability when you
bring him in for a sick exam, the doctor may choose to run an in-house
comprehensive blood panel so she can have some basic results quickly to
get an idea of what is going on with his internal health. She may also
decided to send a full or partial panel to the lab for a more complete
Pre-Surgical Blood Work
work helps us better understand organ function and allow us to foresee
problems before an animal is showing outward symptoms. Before surgery,
it is important to ensure the pet's internal organs are healthy and
able to process anesthesia. In human medicine a battery of tests are
run prior to any surgery. The same is required for animals. Since many
anesthetic and pre-anesthetic drugs are processed through the blood
stream and therefore through the organs, it is important to have
results in case adjustments need to be made in the anesthetic protocol
for this pet. Failure to perform this testing may significantly affect
the success of the anesthesia and the overall outcome of the surgery.
For most pets, the doctor will advise running a simple
in-house blood panel to assess mainly liver and kidney function before
undergoing anesthesia. For older or ill pets, the doctor may recommend
a more comprehensive panel be sent out to the laboratory prior to
Cytology is a test
where we take cells from somewhere on your pet's body and examine them
under the microscope. We use this technique most often when diagnosing
ear infections or examining lumps and growths. We usually can make a
diagnosis using our in-house equipment, but if the doctor sees
something especially worrisome she may decide to send the cytology to
the laboratory for further testing.
Bone Marrow Biopsy
Bone marrow, the soft inner material found inside our bones, is responsible for blood cell production. Certain abnormalities in blood tests, such a anemia, may require further diagnostic testing such as a bone marrow biopsy. It is also needed to diagnose certain types of cancer such as leukemia. A sample of your pet's bone marrow will be collected from their hip bone, thigh bone, or forearm under sedation or anesthesia. The sample with be sent out to the laboratory so a specialist can examine it.
A urinalysis run in
conjunction with a panel of blood work gives the most accurate,
well-rounded picture of the pet's health. Urinalysis can also show
signs of urinary tract problems, bladder stones, infection, diabetes,
and early renal disease. We may do a very basic urinalysis in-house
that will tell us things like specific gravity (density) or detect the
presence of blood or glucose in the urine.
More likely the urine sample will be sent to the laboratory
for a more comprehensive screening. This will determine if there is
bacteria, crystals, blood, or any other debris present in the sample.
If she suspects a urinary tract infection, the doctor may also order a
culture of the urine to be done at the laboratory. This will take
several days as the laboratory staff closely monitors the sample for
bacteria growth. They will then determine what type of bacteria it is
and which antibiotics it is sensitive to or resistant against. This way
we can tailor a proper treatment plan for your pet.
running a fecal test yearly at your pet's annual wellness exam. It may
also be recommended if your pet comes to see us with a gastrointestinal
issue. A stool sample is sent to the laboratory and examined for
internal parasites. Many parasites cause weight loss, diarrhea, anemia,
and loss of appetite. It is very important for routine fecal
testing, as many of the parasites that can infect our pets can
also be transmitted to humans.
The doctor may
recommend taking your pet's blood pressure, especially if your pet is
suffering from a heart condition or on certain medications that require
monitoring. Blood pressure in your pet is taken in much the same way
that your doctor takes your blood pressure. Your pet will be laid down
comfortably. A cuff (we have many different sizes for pets large and
small) is placed on your pet's arm. A sensor covered in conductive gel
is held against your pet's paw. It is connected to a doppler, a machine
that amplifies the sound of his heartbeat. The cuff is then inflated
until the pulse can no longer be heard. Then as air slowly escapes the
cuff, we listen for the first sound of the pulse to return and record
the number on the BP gauge. This initial pulse is the systolic blood
pressure, or peak blood pressure when the heart is beating. Then, when
the pulse returns to normal flow through the vessel, we record the
second reading. This is the diastolic blood pressure, taken when the
heart is at rest between beats.