Diagnostic Tools & Tests
The cornerstone of modern medicine

"Health is like an eggroll.  A patient might look great on the outside ... but who knows what's on the inside."... Roger Ross DVM

A big part of our profession is finding out why a patient is sick.

Or sometimes we need to make sure a patient that seems healthy on casual inspection really is healthy and not harboring a hidden problem.

The tools we have to find out what's going on in our patients are getting better, cheaper, and more accurate all the time.  It's pretty amazing.

We have the important traditional tools of taking a good history, performing a good physical examination, and observation.

An experienced doctor can often make an accurate diagnosis with nothing fancier than a good pen light, a thermometer, and a stethoscope.

But, in many cases, unless we look a lot harder using modern lab tests or radiography we completely miss the real problem.

This page is about the lab tests we have available, and why we use them. 

On Other Pages on this Web Site:

Help with Interpeting the results of lab tests;

Sick Pet Care: What to expect when you bring in a sick pet.

Dentistry & Oral Health

Surgery: our philosophy and comments about surgery at our hospital

Surgery: What to expect, choices that need to be made, and instructions for before and after surgery

Our page about expectations and choices if your pet needs to be spayed

Our page about expectations and choices if your pet needs to be neutered

The Products We Offer for making you and your Pet happier, more comfortable and healthier

Nutrition by Prescription: Recommendations for pets with allergies, intestinal problems, kidney problems, diabetes, liver disease, pancreatitis, obesity, or heart disease.

Laser Therapy
Our new laser has nothing to do with diagnostic lab equipment, but click here to learn all about the amazing number of things we can successful treat with a laser.

Something not many people are aware of yet is ehrlichia, which is a disease similar to Lymes Disease.  Both are spread by ticks to dogs, humans and sometimes cats and both diseases can cause anything from mild aches and pains to significant health problems.
Most dogs with the disease don't show any OBVIOUS symptoms. 

They just aren't as healthy as they could be and may not fight off other diseases as well as could be.  There have been quite a few cases reported around Ashville, NC.   Not very many cases of either Lymes disease or Ehrlichia in our immediate area... but that may be because we (as a profession) haven't been screening for this problem (because until recently, there hasn't been a cheap, easy, and practical way to test).
At any rate, we now have an inexpensive screening test ($20) that screens for 4 different blood parasites; Heartworms, Lymes Disease, Ehrlichia, and another blood parasite called Anaplasma.
So, I may recommend this screening test instead of the normal $14 heartworm test that we routinely recommend when you come in for if your dog's midyear wellness exam.  Especially appropriate if your dog is out in the woods or lake much or has had a tick problem.

It took a lot of work, money, continuing education, and time to develop a state of the art laboratory at our hospital.  Like a lot of worthy things in life, it's not out where everyone can notice, so it's under appreciated.  But know that we have a lab full of amazing equipment, staffed by great lab techs, all at the disposal of you and your pet.

This page is a quick little summary about the more common tests we run at our hospital and how they can help make us diagnose problems and help your pet live a longer, healthier, happier life.  I'll begin with something not so state of the art .....

Let's start with Poop:
Intestinal diseases and intestinal parasites are a common and major problem in animals.  We can learn a lot about what's going on in the intestines as well as digestion, liver function, and metabolism by looking at the stool.  We recommend periodical fecal testing to monitor for worm problems, especially as so many worms have become resistant to control programs. (Note that worms from pets can cause serious disease problems in children.  click here to go to our page about why we are so serious about controlling intestinal worms)

Urine Testing:
We recommend urine testing when we need to know whether or not there is a bladder infection, bladder inflammation, sugar in the urine, protein in the urine, ketones in the urine, whether or not the kidneys are concentrating, whether the urine pH is ideal, and whether or not there are crystals in the urine. An inexpensive ($20) urinalysis tells us a lot.

Blood Testing:
We can detect all kinds of different diseases, poisons, drug levels, and problems by testing blood.  Here's a list of the more common tests we do.

We perform about 15-20 anesthetic procedures each day at our clinic and pets getting anesthesia should have the some lab work done to make sure the type of anesthesia agents we use will be safe.
We sometimes customize which tests we do based on the patient, but usually to keep things simple we have 2 packages of blood work that owners need to chose from prior to anesthesia.

Our basic package is just $32 and includes tests that check for anemia (PCV), glucose levels, elevated liver enzymes (ALT), and kidney health (BUN).

Our more extensive package is $52 includes everything in the basic package but also gives us a detailed white blood cell count (checking for infection), a red blood cell count (checks for anemia, clotting ability) a protein panel (affects healing), electrolyte levels (pretty important during anesthesia), and additional screening tests for the liver and kidney which are the two most important organs that need to be healthy for metabolizing anesthetic agents.

We also see 4 or 5 seriously sick patients each day and for these patients we often run slightly different blood panels that check for pancreatitis, thyroid, and other diseases.  The most expensive panel we run on a regular basis is $85

We also have some great screening tests that we use when appropriate:

Blood test for Leukemia in cats:  $18
Combination Blood test for Leukemia and AIDS in cats: $25

Blood glucose test for detecting diabetes: $12
Blood pack cell volume for detecting internal bleeding: $12

Blood test for BUN; one of several screening tests for kidney disease  $12
Blood test for CREATININE; another screening test for kidney disease $12

Blood test for Thyroid: $30   (Thyroid cancer is a common problem in old cats)
(Hypo thyroidism is common in middle aged dogs with weight, skin, or ear issues )

Heartworm Antigen test: $14
Combination Heartworm, Mycoplasma, Lymes Disease, & Ehrlichia test: $20

The above blood test are simply the most common ones we do.  There are many other specialized tests available to us.

Excretions of pus, wax, skin, and Tissue Samples
We can also test tissues or anything excreted from wounds, masses, cavities, sinus', and the skin.  And we often do.

Microscopic examination of ear wax or skin scrapings for mites:  $0-4
Microscopic examination of stained tissues for ear infections: $15

Bacterial Cultures & Sensitivity Testing:
Cultures tell us what type of bacteria or fungus is present and sensitivity testing tells us which antibiotics are effective at killing this bug.  Unfortunately, results take 7-14 days

Ringworm cultures$15    (interesting comment; we are having good success in treating ringworm and other topical fungal infections with our new laser)

Done by our consulting pathologist to determine if a tissue sample is cancerous, reactive, infected, inflammatory, or associated with immune diseases.  $75

Digital Radiography:
We now have a digital X Ray machine and wow. 

Incredible quality and detail not just of bones but of heart, lungs, abdominal organs, and teeth.  And near instantly.

Digital X Rays are the best way to detect heart disease and lung disease.  It's the only reliable way to diagnose heartworm disease in cats.  (Cats, by the way, do get heart disease)

We recommend a screening radiograph for cats and dogs in late middle age to check for heart, lung, and arthritic diseases as well as for any tumors, stones, or spinal problems that show up.

And, of course, we frequently use radiographs to check for fractures, bowel obstructions, bullets, and cancer.

X Ray studies are $85
Science is our Friend
About our Radiology Department, our Laboratory, our Lab Services, and how inexpensive screening tests can make life better for your pet

For more information about the seriousness of this disease in our area, click here to go the Center for Disease Control Website