Understanding what's happening inside your pet's body is crucial for their overall health. This is where diagnostic tools come in handy, and our vets at Santa Clarita are here to explain the most common tests for dogs and cats.
Radiography - X-Rays for Dogs & Cats
X-rays are one of the most helpful and frequently used tools in veterinary healthcare. X-rays can help your vet get a view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs to diagnose problems such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and more. X-ray images can help vets to spot some tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, which may lead to a diagnosis such as heart disease or cancer.
X-rays will not provide a detailed view of your pet's organs, tissues, or ligaments using X-ray technology. In these cases, other diagnostic imaging, such as MRI and Ultrasound, is more beneficial.
Radiography for dogs and cats involves the use of X-rays, which are safe, painless, and non-invasive. Digital X-rays, in particular, emit low doses of radiation that pose minimal risk to your pet's health. Even pregnant dogs can undergo radiography without harm due to the low level of radiation exposure.
However, in some cases, sedation may be required to obtain a clear image of your pet's body. If your furry friend is calm, comfortable, and not experiencing much discomfort, sedation may not be necessary. However, if your pet is anxious, unsettled, or in pain, sedation may be required to ensure a successful radiography.
Ultrasound Imaging for Pets
Our furry companions, cats, and dogs, can sometimes get into trouble or develop health issues like cysts or tumors that require medical attention. Ultrasounds are a type of diagnostic imaging technology that uses sound waves to create a visual representation of a specific area in your pet's body. They are non-invasive and can help diagnose or evaluate internal organ issues or monitor a pet's pregnancy.
Ultrasounds allow veterinarians to examine the structure of your pet's organs and identify potential blockages, tumors, or other problems. Different parts of your pet's body will require different preparation for the ultrasound. It's best to consult with your vet to determine how to prepare your pet for the ultrasound. For instance, you may need to withhold food and water for up to 12 hours, especially for abdominal ultrasounds. A full bladder is necessary for examining the urinary bladder, so your pet should not urinate for about 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.
To produce clear images, the area being examined will likely be shaved. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some may 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. This detail 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
They must remain completely still to perform CT and PET scans on animals. Therefore, your veterinarian will conduct these diagnostic imaging tests while your pet is under general anesthesia. Throughout the entire CT/PET process, your pet's vital signs will be closely monitored. Generally, a CT/PET scan only takes a short amount of time. After the scan is complete, a specialist will interpret the images, and a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations will be sent to your pet's treating veterinarian.
MRI - Veterinary Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Dogs & Cats
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been readily available to help diagnose human health concerns since the early 1980s, but it is only recently that veterinary MRIs have become more widely used.
When your pet has soft tissue injuries or diseases, MRI scans can give your vet highly detailed images of their brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs. Compared to other diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays or CT scans, veterinary MRIs provide more detailed images 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.
When your dog or cat needs an MRI, it usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour to complete the procedure. To get accurate results, it's crucial that your pet remains completely still during the scan. To ensure this, your veterinarian will administer a general anesthetic before the MRI. Before the procedure, your pet may also need blood tests and X-rays to make sure they're healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
Diagnostic Imaging at Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic
Our Santa Clarita 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 Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic.
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.