Why do we do diagnostic tests?
Regular diagnostic screening is a great, proactive way to ensure your pet’s long-term health. We recommend annual testing as part of your dog or cat’s wellness visits, to catch any issues before they become more serious. Diagnostic tests are also vital tools in the treatment of health issues when your pet is sick.
We can run all the routine diagnostic tests your cat or dog needs, including bloodwork, urinalysis, fecal testing, parasite tests and cytology. As pets are prone to hide illness and pain, regular testing gives you peace of mind that your pet is healthy and free from any underlying issues. Diagnostic tests also help doctors to diagnose any illnesses quickly and easily, so we can get your pet the right treatment early on.
Bloodwork: Blood tests often take the form of a Complete Blood Count (CBC), which measures the number of red and white blood cells and platelets, or a Blood Chemistry panel, which tests organ function, such as the kidneys and liver. CBCs can detect infections, anemia, dehydration, blood disorders and the immune system response. Blood Chemistries show if any enzymes, electrolytes, minerals and hormone levels are too low or too high, often indicating a problem in the way organs are functioning. Bloodwork is also important to determine whether your pet is healthy enough and ready to undergo anesthesia.
Fecal testing: Fecal testing is typically used to determine whether your pet is suffering from any internal parasites, such as worms or giardia. Sometimes, your cat or dog may not display any symptoms initially, but it’s important to treat pets as soon as possible to rid them of any parasites, before their long-term health and development is affected, and to stop them transmitting the parasites to any other pets or family members. The fecal sample will also be checked for color, consistency, as well as the presence of blood or mucus.
Urinalysis: Urine samples are vital tool in the diagnosis of a number of conditions, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney or bladder diseases, and diabetes, amongst others. Urinary issues can be serious, but are thankfully often easily treated once diagnosed.
Tick-borne and Heartworm testing: We recommend annual tick-borne and heartworm testing in addition to monthly preventatives. While preventatives are the best line of defense, they are not always foolproof, and as tick-borne diseases and heartworm may not show symptoms for months after infection, it’s important to test early and often to ensure your pet gets the treatment they need for these serious conditions.
Cytology: Cytology refers to the analysis of cells. It may include looking at discharge or cellular debris to diagnose an infection (such as an ear or skin infection). A biopsy (removing a very small part of a lump/mass) can also evaluate any lumps or masses to look for cancerous cells.
Our in-house laboratory boasts digital x-ray and ultrasound machines for advanced imaging. Radiology is crucial to help our doctors understand what’s going on inside your pet’s body – for example determining whether your pet has a broken bone, checking on puppies or kittens in a pregnant pet, or understanding the impact of an illness on your pet’s internal organs.
X-rays: X-rays use a low, safe dose of radiation to see inside your pet’s body. They may be used to diagnose a foreign body, intestinal blockage, bladder stones, fractures, bone deformities or disorders, tumors, and the number of puppies or kittens in a pregnant pet (important to know in case one gets stuck and needs help getting out!) The size and shape of internal organs can also help to diagnose certain diseases. Your pet may or may not have to be sedated for an x-ray; this depends on the area being x-rayed, and whether your pet is able to lay still.
Ultrasounds: Like x-ray, ultrasound also allows veterinarians to see inside a pet’s body, but in a different way. They use a beam of high-frequency sound waves (ultrasonic waves) and create a picture by recording the reflections of these waves. They are particularly useful for examining internal organs. Ultrasounds do not use any radiation, and your pet will not usually require anesthesia. They may, however, need a small amount of fur shaved to ensure a clear picture and diagnosis.
Echocardiograms: An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. They are often recommended if any abnormal heart sounds have been detected during your pet’s regular wellness exam. Our board-certified cardiologist visits Small Door on Thursdays and can perform this procedure to determine if there are any structural problems with your pet’s heart. Following this, a treatment plan and therapeutic recommendations can be made.
- Does my pet still need regular testing if they are healthy?Yes, we strongly recommend annual bloodwork, fecal testing and tick-borne and heartworm testing for all pets, even if they have no symptoms. These tests can pick up developing health issues before they become more serious (when symptoms would begin showing), allowing for easier, quicker, and often less expensive treatment.
- Can I stay with my pet during testing?For bloodwork, we’ll take blood from your pet during your appointment, and you’ll be able to stay with them. For urine and fecal testing, we’ll ask you to bring a sample with you to your appointment if possible. We can also take your pet for a short walk during their appointment to try to collect a sample. If it’s not possible to catch a urine sample (some pets are understandably anxious about you putting a little cup underneath them, mid pee!), we may be able conduct a cystocentesis, where a sterile needle and syringe are used to collect urine from the bladder. A cystocentesis often takes just a few minutes, and you’ll need to wait outside of the treatment room whilst it’s collected. Similarly, for x-rays and ultrasounds, you’ll need to wait outside the treatment room. Rest assured, your pet is in the best hands during these procedures!
- Does my pet need to undergo anesthesia for testing?Anesthesia is usually only required for certain x-rays. If your pet is extremely anxious, we may provide them with anti-anxiety medication or a light sedative to help them cope with the procedure.
- Do dogs and cats get the same kind of tests?For the most part, yes! Dogs and cats get similar types of tests; however, some tests may look for different issues (such as dog- or cat-specific diseases).
- Do you accept insurance?Yes, we accept all forms of pet insurance.