Educational Articles

  • Increased appetite is completely normal in pets that have high energy requirements, such as growing puppies and kittens, pets that exercise strenuously such as hunting dogs, and pregnant or nursing females. Also, pets eating a poor quality food may eat more to meet their energy requirements.

  • These clinical signs are non-specific and can be caused by many different diseases or conditions. Usually increased production of dilute urine results in a compensatory increase in water consumption, but occasionally the condition is one of increased water intake resulting in the production of large volumes of dilute urine.

  • Jaundice is caused by the build-up of bilirubin in the tissues due to high blood levels of bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia). Hyperbilirubinemia occurs either due to increased red blood cell destruction (hemolysis), or the liver is unable to process or excrete bilirubin normally. CBC, biochemistry panel, and urinalysis are tests used to further define the cause of jaundice. Hemolysis will result in significant reduction of PCV/HCT but not affect plasma protein levels. Abnormal RBCs may be seen indicating IMHA or infectious causes of hemolysis. Liver disease severe enough to cause jaundice will result in significant increases in liver values: ALT and AST if the liver has been damaged by toxins, infection or tumors; ALP and GGT if there is a problem with bile flow out of the liver and/or gallbladder such as gallstones or pancreatitis. Obstruction of bile flow may also be detected in urine samples as a lack of urobilinogen. These tests only define where the problem is occurring, not what the problem is, so further diagnostics that may be needed and include ultrasound, X-ray, FNA, liver biopsy and/or bacterial culture from fluid found in or around the liver. More specific tests for infectious diseases include FeLV, feline coronavirus, and fungal testing.

  • The most common cause of lameness is trauma or injury to joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bones. Other causes of lameness include developmental diseases in young animals, degenerative joint disease in older pets, immune-mediated joint disease, infectious joint diseases, neurological disorders, and cancer of the bones or joints. Finding the cause of a pet's lameness usually starts with a complete history and physical examination. Tests such as X-rays, joint fluid analysis, and blood testing may also be used to diagnose the lameness.

  • Initial screening tests for liver disease include a CBC, biochemistry panel, and urinalysis. A CBC can be used to differentiate hemolytic icterus from hepatic/post-hepatic icterus by measuring the PCV or HCT. Elevated WBC can also indicate presence of infection or cancer. ALP and GGT elevations can indicate a problem with bile flow through the liver. AST and ALT reflect liver cell damage. Bilirubinemia indicates a problem with the uptake, processing or excretion from the liver as long as hemolysis has been ruled out. Other serum indicators of liver disease include albumin, glucose, BUN, and cholesterol, as low numbers could suggest a reduced ability of the liver to manufacture these components. Certain parameters in urine can change before blood changes are seen making urinalysis a useful tool in diagnosing liver disease. Bile acid testing can be used to detect problems in liver function. More advanced diagnostics to determine the cause of liver disease include abdominal ultrasound, fine needle aspiration of the liver, or liver biopsy.

  • Hypoglycemia can be caused by many different things including liver failure, sepsis, Addison’s disease, and overdose of insulin in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Clinical signs include weakness, tremors, and rarely seizures. After detecting hypoglycemia on a blood sample, determining the cause includes a full history, physical exam, CBC, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. In some cases, more advanced testing such as imaging, biopsy, or ACTH stimulation testing will be recommended.

  • Lyme disease spread by ticks can be diagnosed with a simple blood tests in your veterinarian's clinic. The C6 test is very sensitive and specific at diagnosing cases of Lyme disease and depending on clinical signs and concurrent results, treatment may be started immediately. If treatment has been successful, reductions in the QC6 at six months should be lower than the starting point.

  • Pallor means paleness or loss of color. In pets, pallor is usually detected as a loss of color from the gums and inner eyelids. These are normally a light rosy pink, but when pallor develops they become faint pink to white. Pallor is a sign of illness.

  • The pancreas is an abdominal organ responsible for regulating blood glucose (endocrine function) and releasing enzymes that aid in digestion (exocrine function). A deficiency in releasing digestive enzymes causes a disease called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This disease is diagnosed by measuring blood levels of trypsin-like immunoreactivity that is proportional to the amount of a specific digestive enzyme released into the intestine (trypsin). False negatives can be seen with concurrent pancreatitis or not performing the test on a fasted sample. B12 and folate levels can be supportive of the diagnosis. Endocrine pancreatic dysfunction causes diabetes mellitus, diagnosed by elevated glucose levels in the blood and urine. Pancreatitis diagnosis without a biopsy of the organ is not straightforward. Many abnormalities in blood tests can support the diagnosis, including: increased white blood cells, increased PCV, increased amylase or lipase; but an elevation of pancreatic specific lipase immunoreactivity is the most diagnostic of the blood tests. Ultrasound and X-rays can also show changes supporting pancreatitis.

  • Seizures typically occur for three main reasons, but finding the cause can be difficult. Finding the cause of a pet's seizures can be difficult and usually starts with a complete history and physical examination. Your veterinarian will likely recommend screening tests to look for metabolic disease and other illnesses that can cause seizures. Screening tests are a series of simple tests that provide information about the overall health of the pet. There are many additional tests that can be done depending on the results of history, physical examination, and screening tests.