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Types of Diagnostic Tests for Pets

Today, our veterinarians in Walnut Creek explain some of the diagnostic tests available to pinpoint the cause of your pet's symptoms and determine the underlying causes of various health concerns in pets.

Pet Care: Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic testing plays a crucial role in healthcare for both humans and animals. With pets, these tests take on added importance. Because our pets cannot verbally communicate their feelings or pinpoint where they're experiencing pain or discomfort, and the type of pain they're experiencing, diagnostic testing becomes even more vital.

Such testing enables your veterinarian to promptly identify the underlying cause of your pet's symptoms, facilitating swift commencement of treatment.

Here, our veterinarians in Walnut Creek discuss various types of diagnostic testing for pets that aid in diagnosing and monitoring your pet's health.

Blood Tests

Blood work and aiding in the diagnosis of specific conditions play a crucial role in monitoring your pet's overall health. It assesses organ function, electrolyte levels, blood cell counts, and other health indicators. Blood tests are integral to your pet's annual checkup or when symptoms warrant concern for your dog or cat. Annual blood tests are especially vital for older pets, particularly susceptible to certain diseases and health issues. A quick and simple blood test yields a wealth of information, making it a beneficial diagnostic tool.


When your pet comes in for its annual exam, the vet will probably conduct a urine test. Urinalysis assesses kidney function, urinary tract infections, and other health issues linked to the urinary system. While pet parents can often collect urine for these tests, veterinarians may need to retrieve urine directly from the bladder using a needle in certain situations.

Fecal Testing

Fecal tests enable veterinarians to detect intestinal parasites in dogs and cats that may otherwise remain undetected until symptoms emerge. If your pet requires a fecal exam, your vet will request that you bring a fresh stool sample to the appointment.

Heartworm Tests

Preventing and treating heartworms is crucial due to their life-threatening nature. Many veterinarians advocate annual heartworm testing for dogs and cats. Heartworm testing usually entails a blood test that detects antigens produced by adult female heartworms.

X-rays (Radiographs)

X-rays are a valuable diagnostic tool used to evaluate a variety of health issues, including bone fractures, joint problems, and respiratory issues. They are non-invasive and can be done quickly, although pets may require sedation to keep them still during the procedure. X-rays can be especially useful for evaluating the health of older pets or those with chronic health issues.


Ultrasound technology employs sound waves to offer valuable insight into your pet's organ function for your vet. Vets commonly use this technology to assess the heart, liver, and kidneys' health. They often recommend ultrasound for pets suspected of heart or liver disease or for monitoring developing fetuses in pregnant pets.


Your vet may use a small tube fitted with a camera to take a look inside your pet's body. This is referred to as endoscopy. The tube is inserted into the pet's body through an opening such as the mouth or rectum, allowing the veterinarian to examine the internal organs minimally invasively. Endoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal issues but can also be used to evaluate the respiratory system and other organs.


Your vet will take a small tissue sample from your pet during a biopsy. Biopsies are often recommended when a pet has a suspicious lump or growth that may be cancerous. The sample is examined under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous or benign.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a diagnostic test used to evaluate the heart's electrical activity. It is often recommended for pets with heart disease or those at risk for heart disease. The test is non-invasive and involves attaching electrodes to the pet's chest to monitor the heart's electrical activity.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an advanced diagnostic test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of internal organs. MRI can be used to evaluate neurological issues but can also be helpful when evaluating other organs. MRI is typically only available at specialist veterinary clinics and can be more expensive than other diagnostic tests. Your vet will likely place your dog or cat under general anesthesia for the duration of this diagnostic procedure, which will help keep your pet still.

Our Diagnostic Testing & Lab

At Ygnacio Animal Hospital, our vets utilize various advanced tools to identify the cause of your pet's medical issues, ensuring accurate and definitive diagnoses.

Our team gladly directs you and your pet to a specialist if we lack the required diagnostic equipment. You will then take your pet to an external diagnostic lab equipped with appropriate imaging technology in the Walnut Creek area or send samples—blood, urine, or biopsy—to an external veterinary diagnostic testing facility.

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. 

Is your dog or cat scheduled for diagnostic service at our clinic? If you have any questions about what to expect, please get in touch with Ygnacio Animal Hospital.

New Patients Welcome

Ygnacio Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Walnut Creek companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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