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Dogs + Diagnosis

  • The most common cause of lameness is trauma or injury to joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bones. Other causes of lameness include developmental diseases in young animals, degenerative joint disease in older pets, immune-mediated joint disease, infectious joint diseases, neurological disorders, and cancer of the bones or joints. Finding the cause of a pet's lameness usually starts with a complete history and physical examination. Tests such as X-rays, joint fluid analysis, and blood testing may also be used to diagnose the lameness.

  • Initial screening tests for liver disease include a CBC, biochemistry panel, and urinalysis. A CBC can be used to differentiate hemolytic icterus from hepatic/post-hepatic icterus by measuring the PCV or HCT. Elevated WBC can also indicate presence of infection or cancer. ALP and GGT elevations can indicate a problem with bile flow through the liver. AST and ALT reflect liver cell damage. Bilirubinemia indicates a problem with the uptake, processing or excretion from the liver as long as hemolysis has been ruled out. Other serum indicators of liver disease include albumin, glucose, BUN, and cholesterol, as low numbers could suggest a reduced ability of the liver to manufacture these components. Certain parameters in urine can change before blood changes are seen making urinalysis a useful tool in diagnosing liver disease. Bile acid testing can be used to detect problems in liver function. More advanced diagnostics to determine the cause of liver disease include abdominal ultrasound, fine needle aspiration of the liver, or liver biopsy.

  • Hypoglycemia can be caused by many different things including liver failure, sepsis, Addison’s disease, and overdose of insulin in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Clinical signs include weakness, tremors, and rarely seizures. After detecting hypoglycemia on a blood sample, determining the cause includes a full history, physical exam, CBC, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. In some cases, more advanced testing such as imaging, biopsy, or ACTH stimulation testing will be recommended.

  • Lyme disease spread by ticks can be diagnosed with a simple blood tests in your veterinarian's clinic. The C6 test is very sensitive and specific at diagnosing cases of Lyme disease and depending on clinical signs and concurrent results, treatment may be started immediately. If treatment has been successful, reductions in the QC6 at six months should be lower than the starting point.

  • In pets, pallor is usually detected as a loss of color from the gums and inner eyelids. Pallor is a sign of illness and your veterinarian will take your pet’s history, perform a physical exam and perform initial blood and urine screening tests to determine the cause of pallor. Depending on the results of the history, physical exam, and screening tests, additional tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, biopsy, echocardiography, and specialized blood tests may also be recommended.

  • The pancreas is an abdominal organ responsible for regulating blood glucose (endocrine function) and releasing enzymes that aid in digestion (exocrine function). A deficiency in releasing digestive enzymes causes a disease called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This disease is diagnosed by measuring blood levels of trypsin-like immunoreactivity that is proportional to the amount of a specific digestive enzyme released into the intestine (trypsin). False negatives can be seen with concurrent pancreatitis or not performing the test on a fasted sample. B12 and folate levels can be supportive of the diagnosis. Endocrine pancreatic dysfunction causes diabetes mellitus, diagnosed by elevated glucose levels in the blood and urine. Pancreatitis diagnosis without a biopsy of the organ is not straightforward. Many abnormalities in blood tests can support the diagnosis, including: increased white blood cells, increased PCV, increased amylase or lipase; but an elevation of pancreatic specific lipase immunoreactivity is the most diagnostic of the blood tests. Ultrasound and X-rays can also show changes supporting pancreatitis.

  • Seizures typically occur for three main reasons, but finding the cause can be difficult. Finding the cause of a pet's seizures can be difficult and usually starts with a complete history and physical examination. Your veterinarian will likely recommend screening tests to look for metabolic disease and other illnesses that can cause seizures. Screening tests are a series of simple tests that provide information about the overall health of the pet. There are many additional tests that can be done depending on the results of history, physical examination, and screening tests.

  • Sneezing and nasal discharge can occur for many different reasons including infection, allergy, foreign body, and tumors. A thorough history and physical exam is the first step in diagnosing the cause of sneezing/nasal discharge. Initial screening tests include CBC, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and coagulation testing. These tests can be used to indicate the safety of general anesthesia needed for additional testing. Specific testing that may be recommended for determining the cause of nasal discharge/sneezing may include nasal swab for cytology, radiographs of the nasal cavity, nasal flush for cytology, culture and sensitivity testing, and rhinoscopy. Chest radiographs, specific micro-organism DNA testing, more advanced imaging such as CT or MRI, and biopsy may be considered based on initial test results.

  • Most bleeding (or hemorrhage) is caused by trauma. There is usually a wound or a history of injury to explain why a pet is bleeding. Typically, the bleeding stops when a blood clot forms at the site of injury.

  • Many problems can lead to vomiting, some easier to diagnose than others. Simple acute vomiting with no other clinical signs may not require diagnostic testing, but if vomiting is ongoing or your pet is showing other clinical signs, then baseline diagnostic testing including complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and fecal testing may be recommended. Additional diagnostic testing may be required depending on the results of these tests.

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