Diagnostic tools are essential for your vet to understand your pet's health. Without them, it would be challenging to keep your dog or cat healthy. Our Woburn vets explain common diagnostic tests for dogs and cats.
Radiography - X-Rays for Dogs & Cats
X-rays are a crucial tool in veterinary healthcare, frequently used tools in veterinary healthcare. X-rays can help your vet get a view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs. They help diagnose issues like broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed objects, tumors, pregnancy, enlarged organs, heart disease, and cancer.
While X-rays offer a valuable overview, they may not provide detailed images of organs, tissues, or ligaments. Alternative diagnostic methods like MRI or ultrasound are more effective in such cases.
X-rays are painless, non-invasive, and considered very safe for dogs and cats. X-rays, particularly digital X-rays, use only very low doses of radiation. Because the level of radiation exposure required to perform radiography is very low, even X-rays of pregnant dogs are safe. Sedation is sometimes required in order to get a clear image of your body. If your dog or cat is calm, not in too much pain, and able to lay in a comfortable position while the X-ray is being taken, sedation will not be necessary. That said, sedation may be necessary if your pet is unsettled, anxious, or in pain.
Ultrasound Imaging for Pets
Our beloved cats and dogs often get into things they shouldn't or develop health issues, such as cysts or tumors that require treatment. Ultrasounds are a form of imaging technology that transmits sound waves into your pet's body to produce a 'picture' of a specific body part. Veterinary ultrasounds are non-invasive and can be used to diagnose or evaluate problems with your pet's internal organs or check on your pet's pregnancy.
An ultrasound can help our vets examine the structure of your pet's organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors, or other problems.
Ultrasounds on different parts of your pet's body require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for their ultrasound. You may be required to withhold food and water for between 8 and 12 hours, particularly for abdominal ultrasounds. We can best examine the urinary bladder when it is full of urine. This is why your cat or dog should not urinate for about 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.
The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated.
PET/CT Scan for Pets
Computed Tomography - CT Scans for Dogs & Cats
CT scans for dogs and cats provide highly detailed images of your pet's anatomy, surpassing the capacities of standard X-rays. These scans focus on bony and soft tissue structures, including 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, a specialist will typically interpret the images, 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
Veterinary MRI has been readily available to help diagnose human health concerns since the early 1980s, but it has only recently been more widely used.
MRI scans offer high-resolution images of your pet's soft tissues, including the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs. They provide your vet with high-resolution, detailed images of your pet's soft tissues, including the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs. For many types of soft tissue injuries or diseases, the use of veterinary MRIs can provide a more detailed image of your pet's body than other diagnostic imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans.
If your dog or cat is exhibiting symptoms such as limping, lameness, seizures, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, or paralysis, an MRI might be recommended to help diagnose the cause of your pet's symptoms.
The MRI procedure for dogs and cats takes between 45 minutes to an hour to perform. For an MRI to succeed, the patient must remain absolutely still. In order to ensure that your pet's MRI is successful, a general anesthetic will be administered to your dog or cat prior to their scan MRI scan. It's usually advised to conduct blood tests and X-rays beforehand to ensure your pet is fit for anesthesia.
Diagnostic Imaging at Woburn Animal Hospital
Our Woburn vets are pleased to provide veterinary diagnostic tests, including ECG/EKG, ultrasound, and digital X-rays. These diagnostic tools allow us to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your pets' medical issues. Contact us to learn more about veterinary care and diagnostic imaging at Woburn Animal Hospital.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.