Since your sick pet cannot tell us what is wrong, veterinarians must sometimes supplement physical exams with sophisticated pet diagnostic testing. Our hospital is equipped with a complete, sophisticated diagnostic laboratory that allows us to measure more than 100 laboratory values, with results often available in just a few minutes. Tests that cannot be performed at the hospital are sent out to veterinary diagnostic laboratories throughout the country. By taking advantage of our advanced laboratory capabilities, we are also able to monitor our patients with chronic problems and cancers more efficiently, often times even while you wait.
By performing some basic blood tests, the veterinarian can gather information concerning the health and well being of your pet. Two common blood tests performed are the complete blood count and blood chemistry profile. The complete blood count consists of several tests that evaluate the number and type of blood cells in the circulation. The blood chemistry test surveys many of the organ systems of the body (most common are kidney function, liver function and endocrine function) and provides information on how they are functioning. Most blood tests are performed on site at Randolph Animal Hospital using their new blood analyzers.
Heartworm testing, complete blood count, blood-chemistry panel, urinalysis and fecal examination are the most common laboratory tests performed at our hospital. Below are short descriptions of each test.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
CBC measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a sample of blood. The numbers of each type of cell provides information to help diagnose anemia, infections and leukemia. If your pet is undergoing treatment for a condition, a complete blood count can help your veterinarian monitor how your pet is responding to the treatment.
Blood-Chemistry Panel (Chem)
A blood-chemistry panel measures electrolytes, enzymes and chemical elements of your pet’s blood. Included in a Chem profile are important components such as calcium and phosphorous levels, liver enzymes, glucose and total protein. These measurements help your veterinarian determine how your pet’s organs, such as kidneys, pancreas and liver, are functioning. Blood-chemistry panels help diagnose and treat illness, as well as monitor your pet’s response to treatment. A Blood-Chemistry Panel is usually performed to screen for potential problems and risks before anesthesia is administered.
Fecal Examination (Fecal)
Your veterinarian may examine your pet’s feces under a microscope for clues about many different kinds of diseases, including difficulties with digestion, internal bleeding and pancreas disorders. Most importantly, fecal examination confirm the presence of intestinal parasites, including roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm and giardia. A fecal examination is part of your pet’s wellness examination.
Laboratory testing of your pet’s urine can help detect the presence of specific substances that normally do not appear in urine, including protein, sugar, white blood cells or blood. Measuring the dilution or concentration of urine can also help your veterinarian diagnose illness. Urinalysis can be helpful in diagnosing urinary tract infections, diabetes, dehydration, kidney problems and other medical conditions.
X-ray has been one of the key diagnostic tools in veterinary medicine since the 1930s. Our x-ray unit is calibrated and tested regularly in order to meet standards set by the Department of Health.
For excellent x-ray image quality, we have converted to digital radiology. Digital radiology is a new technology and produces better diagnostic images than the traditional film and plate radiographs.
Digital x-ray equipment has many benefits for you, your pet, our staff, and the environment.
The benefits for you:
- X-rays can be easily saved to a disk and sent home with you to share with the rest of your pet’s health care team and specialists.
- As compared to x-ray film, disks are easier to store and transport.
The benefits for your pet:
- Images can be sent to specialists via email when a faster response time is needed. This ultimately allows your pet’s health care team to easily collaborate, and provide your pet with the best veterinary care possible.
- Since fewer radiographs are needed, exposure to radiation is greatly reduced. After the x-ray has been taken, the image density and contrast can be manipulated to enhance the quality of the image, and thus generally eliminates the need for additional x-rays.
- Fewer radiographs and no time needed for film development means less time that your pet remains on the x-ray table. Less time on the table, means less stress for your pet!
- Our medical staff has access to your pet’s radiographs almost instantly since images appear on a computer screen within 6 seconds. This saved time is crucial in emergency situation, and allows our staff to begin your pet’s medical care more rapidly.
The benefits for our staff:
- Decreased exposure to radiation due to fewer radiographs.
- More efficient method of taking x-rays as compared to traditional film equipment.
- Eliminates the need for x-rays storage since all digital images are stored on a computer.
- Eliminates exposure to toxic chemicals used in developing x-ray film.
The benefits for the environment:
- There are no chemicals needed to develop the film, and thus no chemicals that need to be disposed of that would be toxic to the environment.
- There are no x-ray films, so there is ultimately less waste associated with digital x-rays.
Ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure similar to x-ray. Specially generated sound waves are focused towards the chest, heart, abdominal organs or other tissues of the body. The returning “echoes” give us information about changes in the size, shape, density, and disease patterns in those organs and tissues. When appropriate, a biopsy can be taken during the ultrasound procedure.
At Randolph Animal Hospital, ultrasound is used most commonly to evaluate diseases of the heart, liver, pancreas, kidney, intestine, spleen, prostrate, uterus, adrenal glands, and urinary bladder. It is also used to evaluate and perform biopsy growths in the chest and abdomen. Sedation is sometimes required and most pets undergoing biopsy procedures go home the same day.
Ear disease is a common problem in our pets. Until now, diagnosing and treating most ear diseases have been difficult and the results have been mediocre at best. Randolph Animal Hospital utilizes a computerized video otoscope in order to perform ear exams, diagnose diseases and treat external and middle ear problems.
Diagnostic Care FAQs
At Randolph Animal Hospital, we have been providing residents of Randolph, MA with reliable diagnostic care for many years. Many of our patients are unaware of what is involved in diagnostic care. Following are the answers to questions our veterinarian frequently receives regarding diagnostic care.
What Is Diagnostic Care?
Pet diagnostic care is an overarching term used to describe tests ordered by a veterinarian to monitor your pet’s condition. These tests may include radiology, ultrasound, laboratory work, and pathology services.
What Is the Difference between Diagnostic Care and Preventative Care?
Diagnostic care is meant to treat conditions already present in your furry friend. Preventative care, on the other hand, is used to manage problems that may lead to full-blown diseases. A vet may find elevated blood sugar levels and recommend changes to your dog’s diet. Such would serve as preventative care to ward off diabetes. A veterinarian who orders tests to determine how bad your dog’s diabetes has progressed is operating under the umbrella of diagnostic care as your pet already has the disease. The goal has shifted from prevention to treatment.
What Can I Expect When Coming in for Diagnostic Care?
You should come prepared with your pet’s medical records. Your vet may want to know if your furry friend has a history of symptoms that have led up to the point of diagnosis. You should also be prepared for your pet to undergo a thorough physical exam. The purpose of the exam is to provide another opinion to the pet owner and to avoid unnecessary treatments. Perhaps, your pet was sick with influenza during his previous visit to the vet, which is why the diagnosis turned out negative. A new physical exam will remove the discrepancies so the diagnosis and treatment can be clear.
Are Diagnostic Tests and Screening the Same?
Screening is a term used to describe the process of identifying a disease. The procedure is typically implemented during the preventative care stage. The results of a screening are not definite and, thus, require confirmation through a diagnostic exam.
Contact Our Veterinarian in Randolph for Diagnostic Care
At Randolph Animal Hospital, we understand how stressful it can be to have your pet diagnosed with a disease. Such is the reason why our specialists go to great lengths to provide accurate diagnostic test results that ultimately lead to better treatment plans. For more information on diagnostic care or to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian, call us at (781) 963-2298.