When a pet is ill it is often challenging for a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. Therefore, veterinarians rely heavily on diagnostic testing to properly identify problems and treat patients. Diagnostic screening is also used to evaluate the overall health of senior patients or patients about to undergo anesthesia.
Blood Tests
Blood work is the most common type of diagnostic testing that veterinarians perform. A small amount of blood from your pet can provide invaluable information about its overall health.
The CBC (complete blood cell count) is a blood test that tells the veterinarian about the number and condition of your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells are important in carrying oxygen to all of the tissues of the body. When there is an abnormally low number of these cells the pet is said to be anemic. Too many white blood cells can indicate infection. Too few platelets can indicate that the animal might have problems with blood clotting. If your pet needs a CBC your veterinarian can thoroughly explain the results to you.
Blood Chemistry Panel
A blood chemistry panel provides information to the veterinarian about the patient’s internal organs and metabolic health. A chemistry panel typically includes tests that help screen for liver disease, kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride levels are also assessed. Sometimes a chemistry panel includes thyroid tests as well. A veterinarian can get a very good picture of your pet’s overall health through a blood chemistry panel.
Urine Analysis
A urine analysis is a useful diagnostic screening test for diseases in dogs and cats. There are several ways to collect a urine sample from companion animals. One is to simply catch a sample in a clean container. Depending on the health concerns involved, your veterinarian may prefer to collect a urine sample using a sterile catheter or by performing a cystocentesis (where a sterile needle is passed through the skin and into the bladder). These methods yield a very clean sample and are well tolerated by dogs and cats. With a small amount of urine your veterinarian can tell a lot about your pet’s kidney function, or look for evidence of urinary crystals, urinary tract infection, or diabetes. Often, a urine analysis is performed along with a CBC and Chemistry panel to get a complete picture of your pet’s overall health.