Finding the underlying cause of a pet’s symptoms can sometimes be difficult, and early diagnosis is essential to provide your pet with the best possible care. Pet diagnostic tests are an important part of helping to identify the cause of illness or injury, allowing us to put the most effective treatment plan into motion for your furry loved one.
Physical examinations are an essential diagnostic tool to help a veterinarian determine the current health status of your pet. During a physical exam, Dr. Stacey will look for signs such as rapid breathing, activity level, appetite or hydration levels, and abnormalities related to the skin or coat. Regular physical exams can help us identify potentially serious problems before they become too advanced.
Blood tests are a commonly used diagnostic tool for pets that can provide valuable information about their health. A blood test can identify issues related to inflammation, infection, dehydration, organ function, and hormone levels. Often a simple blood test is the first step in helping diagnose underlying diseases or conditions affecting your pet. For example, blood tests can detect diseases such as:
- Kidney disease
- Anemia (low red blood cells)
- If your pet is fighting an infection
- Blood clotting disorders (unexplained bleeding)
The aim of pre-anesthetic screening is to reduce risk and increase the quality of care by identifying pre-existing medical conditions and potential difficulties that could arise while a pet is under anesthesia.
Bloodwork before surgery also gives the doctor a chance to potentially alter their typical drug protocol for sedation and anesthesia to a combination of different medications that are safer for your specific cat or dog. Every drug has its possible side effects, and we want the best outcome possible for you and your pet.
Urine tests can provide information about a pet’s overall health status. With a urine test, we can evaluate kidney function, look for evidence of urinary tract infections and detect the presence of proteins or glucose in the urine, which could indicate diabetes or other conditions. Urine tests are also beneficial in determining if further testing is needed, such as imaging or biopsies.
Dr. Stacey is experienced in performing ultrasounds. An ultrasound is a painless, non-invasive technology that uses sound waves to examine specific internal organs. We also use ultrasounds to detect animal pregnancy after 35 days of gestation. At Countryside, we ultrasound both large and small animals. We also have a portable ultrasound machine that our veterinarians take out on farm calls.
We use X-rays to evaluate a pet’s bone structure, heart, lungs, abdominal organs, and reproductive and urinary systems. We can identify broken bones or foreign bodies through X-rays and diagnose cancer or tumors.
Fecal tests detect the presence of parasites. A sample of your pet’s poop is used for a microscopic examination to detect parasites. In many cases, symptoms of parasite infection may be mild or nonexistent, which is why fecal testing is so important. Also, different parasites can cause similar symptoms, and isolating the type of parasite is essential.
Our blog, Heartworm Prevention Month, explains what heartworm is, how we treat it, and how to prevent your pet from getting heartworm. If we suspect your pet has heartworm disease, we will suggest a heartworm test. The test requires just a tiny blood sample from your pet, and it works by detecting the presence of heartworm proteins. In some cases, if your pet tests positive, we may recommend further tests.
Veterinarians use allergy tests to identify and diagnose allergies that may affect your pet. The tests are either skin or blood tests and can help us determine what potential allergens trigger a reaction in your pet. Common allergens include dust, pollen, molds, and insect stings. Treatments may include medications like anti-inflammatories or immunotherapy shots. Allergy testing can also help identify environmental allergens you can remove from your home.
Countryside’s In-House Laboratory
Our in-house laboratory allows us to perform various routine diagnostics. These diagnostics include but are not limited to, urinalysis, internal parasite screenings, ear cytology, complete blood counts, serum chemistry profiles, and fine needle aspirations. We also partner with several laboratories to offer off-site testing, including but not limited to allergies, Cushing’s, progesterone, and brucellosis tests.
Routine vs. Emergency Pet Diagnostic Tests
When you bring your pet in for a checkup, Dr. Stacey may recommend specific tests or treatments if your pet is experiencing any symptoms and to ensure your pet is in the best possible health. Some tests, such as heartworm tests, are performed yearly to ensure your pet is disease free. Yearly blood tests may become necessary as a pet ages into their senior years. Catching problems before they become severe will help reduce the total expense of owning and caring for your pet and help your pet to have a long and happy life.
In an emergency, our priority is to stabilize your pet as much as possible, whether we need to administer CPR, fluids, pain medication, etc., to lessen the severity of the emergency. Once we have stabilized your pet as much as possible, we may need to perform diagnostic testing to help us determine the cause of the crisis and move forward in treating your pet.
As you can see, many diagnostic tests are available to diagnose any diseases your pet could suffer from. Accurate diagnosis is crucial to properly treating your pet so they can heal faster than they would without diagnostic testing. It can save your pet’s life!
Dr. Stacey Funderburk and Team