Understanding your pet's internal health is essential for keeping them in good shape. Diagnostic tools are crucial for achieving this, allowing your veterinarian to identify any issues early on. At Grants Pass, our vets provide valuable insights on the most common diagnostic tests used for dogs and cats.
Radiography - X-Rays for Dogs & Cats
X-rays are a commonly used and highly beneficial tool in veterinary healthcare. They allow vets to obtain a clear view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs, enabling them to diagnose issues like broken bones, bladder stones, and foreign objects in the digestive system. X-rays are also useful in detecting tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs that may indicate heart disease or cancer.
However, X-rays are not always sufficient for obtaining a detailed image of organs, tissues, or ligaments. In these cases, other diagnostic imaging techniques such as MRI or ultrasound may be more beneficial.
The good news is that X-rays are painless, non-invasive, and considered very safe for dogs and cats. Even pregnant dogs can undergo X-rays with minimal risk, as the level of radiation exposure required is very low. While sedation may be necessary for some pets in order to obtain a clear image, it is not always required. If your pet is calm, comfortable, and not in too much pain, sedation can be avoided. However, sedation may be necessary to ensure a successful X-ray if your pet is anxious, unsettled, or experiencing pain.
Ultrasound Imaging for Pets
As pet owners, we want to ensure our cats and dogs receive the best care possible. Unfortunately, they may encounter health issues, such as cysts or tumors, that require treatment. This is where ultrasounds come in. This imaging technology uses sound waves to create a visual representation of your pet's internal organs or check on their pregnancy. Not only is it non-invasive, but it can also diagnose or evaluate potential problems with your pet's health.
During an ultrasound, our vets can examine the structure of your pet's organs to detect blockages, tumors, or any other issues. However, depending on the area being examined, different preparations are required. Your vet can provide guidance on how to prepare your pet for their ultrasound. For instance, for abdominal ultrasounds, your pet may need to fast for 8-12 hours beforehand. Additionally, it's best if your cat or dog doesn't urinate for 3-6 hours before the ultrasound, so we can obtain a clear image of the urinary bladder.
To ensure clear images are produced, the area being examined will likely be shaved. Although most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some may require sedation. If you have any concerns or questions, don't hesitate to speak with your vet.
PET/CT Scan for Pets
Computed Tomography - CT Scans for Dogs & Cats
The high-resolution images produced by the CT machine help your veterinary team to evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail - detail that would be impossible to achieve with standard X-rays.
CT scanners provide your vet with an outstanding image of your dog or cat's bony and soft tissue structures. CT technology is most commonly used to generate images of the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones/joints, and the chest/lungs. We can also use the CT machine to assess lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull/brain, and vascular structures.
Positron Emission Tomography - PET Scans for Dogs & Cats
A CT scan combined with the use of a contrast agent given to your pet intravenously (IV), allows vets to see increased areas of blood flow in the animal's body. PET scans aid in the detection of cancer and areas of inflammation. In humans, PET scans are used to give doctors a detailed view of how the patient's tissues and organs are working. PET scans are most commonly used to detect and monitor cancer.
CT & PET Scan Process
CT and PET require that the animal stay completely still. For this reason, your vet will perform these diagnostic imaging tests while your pet is under general anesthesia. Your pet's vital signs are closely monitored while under anesthesia throughout the entire CT/PET process. In most cases, a CT/PET scan only takes a short time. Once the scan is complete the images will typically be interpreted by a specialist and a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations will be sent to the vet handling your pet's treatment.
MRI - Veterinary Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Dogs & Cats
Since the early 1980s, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been used to diagnose human health concerns. Recently, veterinary MRIs have become more widely used. These scans provide high-resolution, detailed images of your pet's soft tissues, including the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs. Compared to X-Rays or CT Scans, veterinary MRIs can provide a more detailed image of your pet's body for many types of soft tissue injuries or diseases.
If your cat or dog is experiencing symptoms such as joint pain, seizures, paralysis, neck pain, back pain, limping, or lameness, an MRI may be recommended by your vet to diagnose the cause of their symptoms. The MRI procedure usually takes between 45 minutes to an hour. However, for a successful MRI, the patient must remain still. To ensure this, a general anesthetic will be given to your pet prior to the scan. Before the MRI, your vet may recommend blood tests and X-rays to ensure that your pet is strong enough to undergo general anesthetic.
Diagnostic Imaging at Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic
At Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic, our veterinarians in Grants Pass offer a wide range of diagnostic tests, including ECG/EKG, ultrasound, and digital X-rays, to accurately diagnose your pet's medical conditions. If you would like to learn more, please click the link below.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding p ts. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.