Educational Articles

Dogs + Diagnosis

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cells that have been collected from the body. Cytology is most often used to diagnose the nature of lumps and bumps found on the surface of the body. However, cytology can also be used to evaluate internal organs, body fluids, effusions, and surfaces of the body. Different techniques are employed to collect cells depending on the type of sample needed. The next diagnostic step after cytology is histology.

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cells that have been collected from the body. There are different methods for collecting cells from body surfaces including skin scrapings, impression smears, swabs, and flushes. Once the cells are collected, they are examined under a microscope. Sometimes examination of surface cells does not provide a definitive diagnosis and additional samples must be collected.

  • Dexamethasone is used to test the feedback loop that controls the level of cortisol hormone in the body. Injection of dexamethasone will cause a decreased level of cortisol in a normal pet; however, in a pet with Cushing’s disease, the negative feedback loop will not respond completely, or at all, resulting in minimal or no decrease in cortisol level. A pet with pituitary induced Cushing’s may have a slight reduction in cortisol as compared to adrenal-induced Cushing’s which will have no cortisol suppression. Standard testing for Cushing’s disease uses a low dose of dexamethasone and often diagnoses adrenal vs pituitary disease. Rarely, a high dose will be used if clarification on type of Cushing’s disease is required. Other diseases can suppress cortisol production, so it is important to rule these out prior to dexamethasone testing. Knowing the type of Cushing’s disease your pet has can guide treatment decisions and offers a more defined prognosis.

  • Testing for diabetes includes confirming hyperglycemia and glucosuria while looking for other conditions by checking a CBC (anemia, infection), biochemistry profile (hepatic disease, pancreatitis) and a urinalysis (urinary tract infection). Monitoring includes regular glucose curves and additional exams and testing based on the pet owner’s monitoring of their dog’s clinical signs in the home setting. Urine glucose testing and fructosamine are sometimes used in diabetic monitoring and urine testing for infection may be recommended.

  • DNA is a large complex molecule that carries the genetic information or genetic code of an organism. All common forms of life, such as viruses, bacteria, plants, and animals carry a copy of their own genetic code in each of their cells. Each organism has a unique section of DNA that is just like a fingerprint. DNA-PCR is often used to detect the presence of infectious organisms; especially when detecting extremely small numbers of infectious organisms and for detecting certain viruses and bacteria that are difficult to diagnose by other methods.

  • Microalbuminuria refers to the presence of very small amounts of albumin in urine. It may indicate underlying health problems and is sometimes an early warning sign of primary kidney disease. Many conditions can potentially lead to microalbuminuria (e.g., dental disease, chronic skin disease, feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, and cancer). A simple test, early renal damage test (ERD), may be used to detect microlbuminuria. A small amount of urine collected in a sterile container is needed to run this test. Microalbuminuria does not mean that your pet has serious kidney disease, and your veterinarian will recommend further testing to look for hidden disease if microalbuminuria is detected.

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) is a test that is used to assess the heart. More specifically, an ECG measures the transmission of an electrical impulse through the heart. This test is not painful and is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. Analyzing the electrical impulses produced as the heart beats can help identify a number of different abnormalities within the heart.

  • Your dog has been scheduled for an endoscopic examination. The purpose of this procedure is to help your veterinarian make a diagnosis of the disease that has been causing your pet's clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain or swelling or loss of appetite.

  • A fecal Baermann is a specialized test for detecting certain types of parasites or worms.

  • Fecal flotation is a routine veterinary test used to diagnose internal parasites or worms. The test detects the eggs of mature parasites that live inside the body and pass their eggs to the outside by shedding them in the host's stool.