When Are Diagnostics Indicated For Your Pet?
We all want our pets to live healthy and happy lives. Spotting the signs of illness early can reduce both the rigors and costs of treatment, and has been shown to improve outcomes. Unfortunately, many potentially severe illnesses may produce few or no symptoms in their early stages. Diagnostics offer an excellent opportunity to identify the early clinical signs of disease, often before symptoms appear.
When Might My Pet Need Diagnostics?
There are several situations in which your vet may recommend diagnostics for your pet.
- During semi-annual wellness exams: Your veterinarian may suggest diagnostic blood work as part of a thorough physical examination. Blood work along with analysis of other bodily fluids like urine, can help identify conditions that may not appear on physical examination.
- If an animal doesn’t seem quite right: If you’ve brought your pet to the vet because of unexplained behavior or weight changes, blood tests, radiographs, urinalysis, or an ultrasound may be recommended to help reveal any hidden cause.
- Before surgery: Surgery is stressful on the body. Also, anesthetics and other agents used during surgery may pose a risk to animals that are not in otherwise good health. Blood work can help determine the efficiency of your pet’s internal organs, which helps your vet select the safest dose of anesthesia. Diagnostic tests can also help determine the surgical risk level in infirmed, elderly, or injured patients. We recommend that puppies have blood tests prior to spay/neuter surgery to rule out congenital diseases and to gather baseline information.
- Before starting a new medication: Not all medications are metabolized the same way. Your animal’s liver and kidneys may need to be evaluated to ensure that they can safely metabolize the new medication.
- During senior wellness exams: Blood tests are usually recommended for mature, senior, and geriatric animals as part of their periodic wellness exams. Blood tests can often identify easily treated underlying diseases that may be affecting your pet’s energy level or appetite.
What Are Some Commonly Performed Tests?
Some tests are more commonly performed than others. The most often requested tests from veterinarians include:
- We evaluate your animal’s urine to gain important information on hydration status, as well as the presence of infection, kidney, bladder disease, diabetes, or other health conditions.
- Your vet may ask you to provide a stool sample from your pet. The sample is then examined for color, consistency, as well as the presence of blood or mucus.
- A subsequent microscopic evaluation will screen for the presence of intestinal parasites, fungi, or protozoa.
- We analyze your pet’s blood to assess features including red and white cell count, immunity status, and the measure of hemoglobin (the oxygen-bearing substance in red blood cells and platelets).
- We identify the status of your pet’s internal organs, proteins, and electrolytes.
- We collect samples of sebum and cellular debris on the skin and in the ears to test for infection.
- Your vet may also perform a needle or core biopsy of lumps or masses on your dog’s body to look for cancer cells.
- Our on-site, noninvasive radiology equipment allows us to perform diagnostic x-rays quickly, accurately and easily.
- This is used when 3-D imaging of internal organs is needed to gain a more in-depth view of a patient’s illness/status.
- An ultrasound for animals is exactly like it is for humans, except that in animals, your vet might have to shave a bit of fur so the ultrasound wand makes better contact with the skin.
- An ECG takes only one to two minutes and is painless.
- Your pet is connected to an ECG/EKG unit and their heart rate and rhythm are transmitted to a board-certified cardiologist to review.
We recommend discussing lab tests for your pets to determine which tests might show the greatest benefit. Have questions or concerns? Need to make a wellness appointment for your pet? We’re here for you. Give us a call and make an appointment today!