When your pet is sick or hurt, she can’t tell you where it hurts or how she feels. In-house diagnostics are a fast and reliable way for the Paw Patch team to figure out what’s going on with your pet so that we can provide the appropriate treatment and quick relief. Having the diagnostic tools located on-site means the answers to your pet’s problems may be ready in minutes, not hours or days.
Your Role in Your Pet’s Diagnosis
The Paw Patch team has numerous tools to diagnose illnesses and injuries in animals, but to know which are appropriate, we need all the information you can provide. There’s a lot of detective work involved in veterinary medicine since the patients can’t advocate for themselves. You need to speak for your pet and provide any information that may inform a correct diagnostics procedure. The veterinarian is likely to ask:
- Is your pet eating normally?
- Did she eat anything she shouldn’t have?
- Is she vomiting?
- Is she drinking normally? (Drinking too little, or too much can indicate a problem).
- Is she having normal bowel movements? If possible, bring a stool sample for analysis.
- Has the animal been less active than usual?
- Are there any other abnormal behaviors?
- Was the animal injured? (Hit by a car, attacked by another animal, stepped on, etc.)
Technology has improved vastly in recent years, making it easier than ever to provide the best care to your pet. Generally, your vet will start with the least invasive test that will provide the answers needed. Many of these tests cause no or very little discomfort to your pet.
With just a tiny prick of a needle, blood cell counts can be done quickly and reveal quite a lot. High white blood cells may indicate a bacterial infection, while low white red blood cell counts could mean a virus or an immune system problem. Low red blood cell counts indicate anemia.
Routine blood tests at your annual wellness visit can reveal serious conditions like feline leukemia or heartworm. If the tests come back negative, cats can be vaccinated for leukemia and dogs can be placed on monthly heartworm prevention. For older pets, blood analysis can measure how well the kidneys and other organs are functioning.
A fecal sample can be examined under a microscope to determine if parasites are present and, if so, what course of treatment to pursue. Other things the technician will look for include blood in the stool, mucus, and other things (such as pieces of plastic or other non-food items) that indicate your pet ate something they should not have eaten.
Examining your pet’s urine can reveal health issues before your pet even shows any symptoms of disease or disorders like diabetes. First, the technician will look at the color, consistency, clarity, and other visual characteristics. They will check for the presence of protein, blood, crystals, and other things that should not be found in a healthy animal’s urine.
We also use a special tool to check the concentration level of the urine and that tells us if there could be a potential issue with the kidneys or hydration level of the pet.
Ask the veterinarian or staff member how to collect a urine sample from your pet. If you can’t collect it yourself there are other methods for obtaining the urine, depending on the type of animal.
Other Lab Tests
The veterinarian can examine swabs taken from ears or skin scrapings to examine under the microscope. Problems such as ear mites, ringworm, infections, even some cancers can be quickly diagnosed.
A radiograph, commonly known as an X-Ray, can give the veterinarian a look at what is going on inside your animal’s body; we can look for bone fractures, enlarged organs, tumors, foreign objects, or even a pregnancy. Your pet may need to be sedated so they don’t move during the procedure. Radiology is now digital so the image appears almost instantly and can be easily shared with any specialists as appropriate.
X-Rays involve a very low dose of radiation but will not harm the pet, even if they are pregnant.
While radiology can give veterinarians a good picture of what’s going on in hard tissue like bones, an ultrasound enables imaging of soft tissues and can reveal such things as abnormal masses in the body, and tears in tendons or ligaments. Ultrasound can also examine the moving parts in real-time (as opposed to the still image of an X-Ray). For example, an ultrasound can reveal if there’s a problem in a valve as the heart is beating. Your pet will only need to be sedated for an ultrasound if they can’t lie still.
Electrocardiograms, also known as ECG or EKGs, are a noninvasive way to gauge your animal’s heart function. Electrodes that detect electrical impulses put out by the heart will be connected to your pet’s legs for a minute or two. ECGs can detect abnormal heartbeats, abnormal heart rhythms, murmurs, and more.
Call the office if you have questions or would like to know more about in-house diagnostic capabilities.