Lab work, radiographs, and other diagnostics are a window into the body to determine both what is working correctly and what areas need medical intervention.
Blood work generally consists of a CBC (complete blood count) and a chemistry panel. A CBC is performed to view changes that may be occurring with the patient’s bone marrow, hydration status, or immune system. The hematocrit portion of the CBC measures the red blood cells and the percentage of fluid in the blood. Hematocrits are useful when assessing hydration status and presence of an anemia or immune-mediated disease. The white blood cell (WBC) count measures the total number of WBCs and gives the percentage of each type of WBC present. The WBC count is useful when looking for infections, parasitic disease, inflammatory disease, or certain forms of cancer. A platelet count is useful when assessing for clotting or immune-mediated disorders.
A chemistry panel is performed to assess overall organ function. This is particularly important in pets on long-term medications which may have an effect on the kidneys or liver. Blood sugar, electrolyte, and protein levels are checked as part of the chemistry. Based on your pet’s condition or medication, blood work may be recommended more often than once yearly (perhaps every 3 to 6 months instead). In some cases, a thyroid function test (T4) may be added to assess for an under- or overactive thyroid. The T4 level is also used to monitor pets on thyroid medication.
When we need to figure out what’s wrong with your pet, we routinely use x-rays to help identify the cause of the problem, rule out possible problems, or provide a list of possible causes. We may also use x-rays during a wellness exam to diagnose potential problems before they become serious.
X-rays provide valuable information about a pet’s bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart, and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). We use radiology alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools. Occasionally we will send radiographs off to be interpreted more in-depth by a radiologist.
At Seminole Trail Animal Hospital, we offer digital radiology (x-rays that are captured digitally rather than on film). This state-of-the-art technology allows us to provide you with a quicker diagnosis for your pet. Plus, it uses less radiation than traditional x-rays. To avoid a blurry image, pets need to remain completely still while an x-ray is taken. In some cases, we may need to sedate your pet or use short-acting general anesthesia.
If you have any questions about x-rays or what to expect during your pet’s procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Urinalysis is one of the common tests we run in our lab. Whether it's because of a pet urinating in the house (and not in a litter box!), frequent urination, or something just being "off," urine can reveal many things.
By spinning urine in a centrifuge and looking at the sediment under a microscope, urinary tract infections can be diagnosed based on the presence of bacteria. We recommend rechecking urine following a course of antibiotics so that we can confirm that the infection has cleared.
Abnormal cells and crystals can be found on microscopic exam of urine sediment as well. Red and white blood cells may be found in infections; while red blood cells and crystals can be found in urine with too high or too low pH values.
We also run a chemistry on the urine to determine pH and specific gravity and to detect presence of glucose, ketones, protein, and bilirubin. Kidney disease, liver disease, or diabetes can be found based on urine chemistry results. These diseases are confirmed and evaluated further through blood work.
An ultrasound is a non-invasive, diagnostic test that allows veterinarians to look inside your pet’s body without having to perform surgery. In most cases, your pet does not need to be under anesthesia for this procedure.
The ultrasound machine sends sound-waves into the body and then listens for the echoes to produce images of your pet’s internal organs. Cardiac ultrasound produces images of the heart as it is beating, giving a detailed view of the heart valves, and the heart muscles. Abdominal ultrasound is useful for examining the liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys as well as detecting reproductive abnormalities. The organs can be examined for location, size, shape, texture and blood supply. Masses can also be found within the organs through an ultrasound.
At Seminole Trail Animal Hospital, we use a traveling veterinarian who specializes in ultrasonagraphy to provide this valuable diagnostic tool. Our veterinarians will look at your pet’s medical history, current medical concern, and the ultrasound exam to make a diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet. At times, additional testing may be recommended.