Illustrated Articles

  • The term hypercalcemia is used when the level of calcium in the blood is higher than normal. Calcium levels are controlled by a pair of parathyroid glands. High calcium levels may signal the presence of serious underlying disease including kidney failure, adrenal gland failure, a parathyroid gland tumor, and some types of cancer. Pets with hypercalcemia may show signs of weakness, listlessness, increased drinking and urination, and loss of appetite. Your veterinarian will perform diagnostic tests which may include total calcium, ionized calcium, albumin, and parathyroid hormone levels.

  • Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Leptospira. The disease causes serious damage to the kidney and liver, and may be fatal in severe cases. Severely infected dogs show signs of lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and increased thirst and urination. Dogs may develop jaundice. There are several tests for diagnosing leptospirosis, but the two most common ones are the DNA-PCR test and the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Infection can be diagnosed with either test, but each has weaknesses, and in some situations both tests may be needed to reach a diagnosis.

  • Pets that have been diagnosed with epilepsy are usually prescribed one or more medications to prevent convulsions or seizures. Careful monitoring of epileptic pets is necessary, not only to make sure the dose of the medicine is right, but also to ensure there are no problems related to the long-term use of the medication. The most important thing to do is follow your veterinarian's instructions closely and give the medication regularly and consistently. This will ensure that the value reported on the blood test is reliable.

  • Pancreatitis is a disease caused by inflammation of the pancreas. In the cat, inflammation of the pancreas is often part of a larger inflammatory condition that typically involves the liver and intestine, as well as the pancreas. Clinical signs are often vague and non-specific, and include lethargy, poor appetite, weight loss, and dehydration. Pancreas-specific lipase is a form of lipase produced only in the pancreas. It is highly specific to the pancreas and blood values increase only when there is pancreatic inflammation.

  • Pancreatitis is a disease caused by inflammation of the pancreas. Dogs with severe, sudden on-set pancreatitis are often very ill and show signs of vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and fever. Dogs with less severe forms of pancreatitis may show only mild signs of illness. Pancreas-specific lipase is a form of lipase produced only in the pancreas. It is highly specific to the pancreas, and blood values increase only when there is pancreatic inflammation.

  • Pre-anesthetic testing is the best way to minimize anesthetic risks and ensure good surgical outcomes. Pre-anesthetic testing consists of, at minimum, a full physical examination. Depending on the patient and the reason for anesthesia, blood testing including CBC and biochemistry is often recommended and additional testing such as urinalysis, radiographs, EKG or more advanced testing may be needed. The results of pre-anesthetic testing are used to formulate the safest anesthetic plan for your pet.

  • A blood test detects pregnancy in the pregnant dog by measuring levels of a hormone called relaxin. This hormone is produced by the developing placenta following implantation of the embryo, and can be detected in the blood in most pregnant dogs as early as 22-27 days post-breeding.

  • Having your pet properly prepared for a blood test helps to ensure that the results are as accurate and reliable as possible. Preparation for these two types of tests is slightly different. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions before your appointment. It is important that you follow these instructions exactly to ensure accurate test results.

  • X-ray images are produced by directing X-rays through a part of the body towards an absorptive surface such as an X-ray film. The image is produced by the differing energy absorption of various parts of the body: bones are the most absorptive and leave a white image on the screen whereas soft tissue absorbs varying degrees of energy depending on their density producing shades of gray on the image; while air is black. X-rays are a common diagnostic tool used for many purposes including evaluating heart size, looking for abnormal soft tissue or fluid in the lungs, assessment of organ size and shape, identifying foreign bodies, assessing orthopedic disease by looking for bone and joint abnormalities, and assessing dental disease.

  • X-ray images are produced by directing X-rays through a part of the body towards an absorptive surface such as an X-ray film. The image is produced by the differing energy absorption of various parts of the body: bones are the most absorptive and leave a white image on the screen whereas soft tissue absorbs varying degrees of energy depending on their density producing shades of gray on the image; while air is black. X-rays are a common diagnostic tool used for many purposes including evaluating heart size, looking for abnormal soft tissue or fluid in the lungs, assessment of organ size and shape, identifying foreign bodies, assessing orthopedic disease by looking for bone and joint abnormalities, and assessing dental disease.