To ensure the health of your beloved pet, diagnostic tools are essential for your vet to understand what's happening inside their body. These tests are crucial for the well-being of your dog or cat. Our veterinarians in Santa Rosa can explain the most common diagnostic tests used for pets.
Radiography - X-Rays for Dogs & Cats
X-rays are a commonly used tool in veterinary healthcare that provide valuable insight into your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs. They can aid in diagnosing issues such as broken bones, bladder stones, and swallowed foreign objects. Additionally, X-ray images can reveal tumors, pregnancies, and enlarged organs, which may indicate heart disease or cancer.
While X-rays are generally safe for dogs and cats, they do not provide a detailed view of organs, tissues, or ligaments. In these cases, other diagnostic imaging, such as MRI or ultrasound, may be more effective.
Digital X-rays, which use low doses of radiation, are considered safe even for pregnant dogs. Sedation may be required to obtain clear images, but if your pet is calm and comfortable, sedation may not be necessary. However, if your pet is anxious or in pain, sedation may be required to ensure a successful X-ray.
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.
To prepare your pet for ultrasounds, it's important to follow specific guidelines for different body parts. It's best to consult with your vet to determine the appropriate preparation method. Your pet may need to fast for 8 to 12 hours for abdominal ultrasounds. Additionally, to ensure optimal examination of the urinary bladder, your pet should refrain from urinating for 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
The high-resolution images produced by the CT machine help your veterinary team to evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail - a detail that would be impossible to achieve with standard X-rays.
Your veterinarian can obtain highly detailed images of your pet's bone and soft tissue structures using CT scanners. These scanners are commonly used to capture images of the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones and joints, chest, and lungs. Additionally, the machine can be utilized to evaluate lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull, the 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
Since the early 1980s, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been used to diagnose human health concerns. Recently, veterinary MRIs have become more widely used, providing vets with 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 offer a more detailed image of your pet's body for many types of soft tissue injuries or diseases.
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 scan takes between 45 minutes to an hour to perform, but the patient needs to remain still throughout the process.
For this reason, a general anesthetic is administered to your pet prior to their MRI scan. To ensure the success of the MRI, vets typically recommend blood tests and X-rays be done before administering the general anesthetic to ensure your pet is strong enough.
Diagnostic Imaging at Montecito Veterinary Center
Our Santa Rosa vets are pleased to provide veterinary diagnostic tests, including ECG/EKG, ultrasound, and digital X-rays. These diagnostic tools to 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 Montecito Veterinary Center.
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.