Vets use similar methods to diagnose illnesses, injuries and other health conditions as doctors and different types of medical practitioners. Most often, they follow some steps in evaluating the health of an animal and may also use a process of elimination.
How Vets Diagnose Pets?
1. Medical History
Just like a doctor, a vet will ask some questions regarding the health of a pet in the past as well as their current condition. They use the answers to these questions to determine whether history or existing illnesses, health conditions or injuries could be affecting the current health of the animal. The answers can also point out specific signs and symptoms of an illness, disease or injury.
2. Physical Exam
Next, the vet will perform a physical exam to determine the overall health of the pet. They will look at the eyes, ears, nose and in the mouth of the animal. They will also feel for any unusual occurrences such as swellings, lumps or even bones that may be broken. The pet will be examined for any pests, and their breathing, as well as heart rate, checked.
Most often, common illnesses affecting a specific species are diagnosed by performing a physical examination. However, if the vet is unsure of a diagnosis, they will follow the next steps in the diagnostic process.
3. Sample Testing
The next step is to take a blood sample from the pet and analyze it for any abnormalities. Some vets may analyze the sample themselves but will send the sample away to a lab for analysis. It can take a few days for the results to be returned to the vet.
A vet may request a urine or stool sample to brought with to the consultation. These will be analyzed by the vet and sent to a lab for testing.
The vet may also take a biopsy or tissue sample and send this to a lab for testing. However, this is rare and typically only in the event that signs and symptoms point to a severe illness or disease.
4. X-rays, CT and MRI
These tests allow the vet to see what is going on inside the pet. It will enable them to look for broken bones, foreign objects or any other abnormalities. An x-ray may be performed at your local veterinary clinic. However, you may need to take your pet to an animal hospital or specialized facility for a CT or MRI scan.
The tests can be costly, and the vet will typically only use these as a last resort in diagnosing an animal. It will also be up to the owner to decide whether they want the test to be performed or not.
A vet uses these diagnostic methods and tools not only to diagnose an animal but also to determine the best way of treatment or how to move forward. How vets diagnose pets is, therefore, more often a process and it can take time to come to the correct diagnosis.
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