When your pet is not feeling well, it is often challenging for the veterinarian to determine the underlying cause without doing some diagnostic testing. Diagnostic testing can include services such as blood work, urine analysis, radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound and cytology. The veterinarians rely heavily on diagnostic testing to properly identify problems and treat your pet. This allows the doctor to more accurately understand what is occurring internally with your pet.
Diagnostic screening is also used in healthy pets to evaluate their overall health and to serve as a baseline. The doctor will also request some diagnostic testing when patients are about to undergo anesthesia for any surgical procedure.
Blood work is the most common type of diagnostic testing that veterinarians perform. The overall internal organ function and health of your pet can be evaluated from a small amount of blood for a blood sample.
Blood Chemistry Panel
A blood chemistry panel allows the veterinarian to assess your pet’s internal organs and metabolic health. It screens for liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, electrolyte disorders and much more. Often, depending on if it is indicated, other panels such as a thyroid panel may be included.
CBC (Complete Blood Count)
A CBC is a blood test that informs the veterinarian about your pet’s red and white blood cell counts and platelet count. White blood cells alert the veterinarian if there is an infection, whereas red blood cell abnormalities often indicates anemia and a decrease in the amount of red blood cells carrying oxygen to the whole body. A decrease in platelets could indicate in a blood clotting disorder.
Other Blood Tests
Another common test which requires a small sample of blood includes the annual Heartworm test. This blood test insures your pet is negative for heartworm disease and is required annually to receive a prescription of heartworm prevention. A blood glucose test is used to monitor diabetic patients, whereas some blood tests look specifically for viral diseases. Based on your pet’s needs and health condition our veterinarians will explain which, if any, blood tests your pet requires.
A urine analysis is a helpful diagnostic test. Using a small amount of urine our veterinarians can assess kidney function, or see if there is evidence of urinary crystal formation, urinary tract infections or diabetes. Often a urine analysis is done along with a CBC/Chemistry panel to get an overall picture of your pet’s health.
Radiography (X-rays) and Ultrasound
Radiography or “X-rays” allow our veterinarians to view the internal structures of your pet. There are many reasons why radiographs serve as diagnostic tool to aid in determining your pet’s overall health or illness. The radiographs are used to visualize the bones, lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder and digestive tract. Once evaluated our veterinarians are able to see broken bones, signs of arthritis or bone changes, foreign objects, tumors, to diagnose pregnancy, plus much more. At Oak Park Animal Hospital we have the latest technology and utilize digital radiography.
Ultrasound, a more specialized way of imaging the internal organs is more commonly used to evaluate the chest and abdominal organs. It is often performed with your pet awake and is considered a painless and non-invasive procedure. Ultrasound allows our veterinarians to look within your pet’s organs whereas radiographs only evaluate the size, shape and placement of organs.