In the laboratory our Veterinary Technicians expertly perform routine diagnostic tests and prepare samples to be submitted to outside labs for special assays. In-house test results are usually available the same day, within minutes in an emergency.
Tests we may recommend for your pet include:
Complete Blood Count – this counts absolute and relative numbers of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body, white blood cells that fight infection and platelets that help the blood to clot.
Differential – under the microscope, a thin smear of blood is examined carefully to determine exactly what types of cells are present and whether the cells appear to be in good health.
Chemistry Panel – this test measures the amounts of various enzymes and other chemicals normally found in the blood. It is a good screen for liver and kidney problems and a help in diagnosing diseases such as Cushing’s Disease, Diabetes mellitus and Thyroid conditions, among others.
Electrolyte Levels – also known as “Lytes,” this test measures ions of Sodium, Potassium and Chloride in the blood. Normal levels of these ions are essential to avoid life-threatening consequences.
Heartworm / Lyme Disease – this test, requiring a small amount of blood, looks for evidence of 2 serious diseases that can and do affect dogs in our area. Heartworm disease is carried by mosquitoes. Lyme (Borrelia burgdorferi), is a tick-borne infection. We recommend testing yearly for exposure to these organisms.
Urinalysis – a complete urinalysis is an important part of a diagnostic workup. We look at the chemical makeup of the urine as well as the cells that may be present. Infections of the bladder or kidneys, Diabetes mellitus and many other diseases can result in changes to the urine that can be picked up by careful analysis.
Fecal Exam – most people are familiar with this routine test for intestinal parasites. We recommend that dogs and outdoor cats be tested yearly, since they are at risk of picking up these organisms. Some, such as roundworms and hookworms, can be contagious to people, especially young children, so routine fecal exams and appropriate deworming treatment are essential for the entire family’s health.
Cytology – another examination of cells, but these cells can come from anywhere other than the blood. Some common sources of specimens are infected ears, skin scrapings and fluid drawn from cysts or body cavities.
Tonometry (Intra-ocular Pressure Measurement)
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in dogs. It is a particular danger in some breeds, but all dogs can be affected. Glaucoma is also a leading cause of blindness in cats. It is usually secondary to hyperthyroidism, but primary glaucoma has been described in cats. Unfortunately, by the time you can see there is a problem, the vision in the affected eye is lost.
The inside of the eye is filled with a fluid called aqueous humor, which is produced by tissues inside the eye, and drains into the blood stream through an area known as the filtration angle. Glaucoma occurs when there is obstruction to the filtration angle so the fluid that is being produced can’t drain out. This increases the pressure inside the eye, causing pain and damage.
We recommend intra-ocular pressure checks, especially for our at-risk patients. By checking intraocular pressure routinely, we can screen for and treat mild increases before they have a chance to become serious.
The test is very quick, simple and painless. A tiny probe is held up in front of the eye and is rapidly tapped against the cornea. The way in which it bounces back to the tonometer allows the device to calculate the pressure within the eye.
As subtle as the signs of hypertension are in humans, they are much harder to pick up in dogs and cats until we see signs of damage to internal organs like the eyes, heart and kidneys. Years ago hypertension was not even recognized in pets, but now we have the ability to diagnose and treat it before harm is done.
Most cases of hypertension in cats are secondary to either hyperthyroidism or kidney disease, but some cases do not seem to have an underlying cause. In dogs, the cause is not yet known, but there may be an inherited predisposition in some cases.
Taking blood pressure is simple and painless. A cuff is placed around either a front leg or the tail and briefly inflated. The machine measures the pressure at which the pulse beyond the cuff ceases and calculates systolic, mean and diastolic pressure values.