The main tools of the doctor are the medical history and the physical examination. Because we cannot communicate with your loved ones, we rely on key changes noted by the owner in appetite, energy level, mobility and attitude. The physical exam is done in a systematic approach including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, the gastrointestinal and lymphatic systems, the reproductive and skeletal systems and the skin. Based on abnormal findings and key points in the pet’s history, the doctor is able to generate a differential diagnosis list, or a series of possible diagnoses that can explain the noted abnormal signs and symptoms.
In order to “narrow down” the differential diagnosis, blood tests and medical imaging are used. Commonly performed screening tests, especially in older patients, are blood tests of the red and white blood cells and internal organs, urinalysis, fecal exam, radiographs and abdominal ultrasound. Based on these test results, the list of possible diseases is narrowed down often to a single disease allowing for specific recommendations for treatment. In some cases, preliminary test results will allow for a presumptive diagnosis, and further tests such as biopsy or specialized blood tests are needed to make a definitive diagnosis.
At Agua Fria Animal Hospital, we strive to reach a diagnosis for each pet’s medical condition. This allows for the quickest and most appropriate treatment to get your pet back to a healthy state. We utilize in-house testing capabilities and often can reach a diagnosis during your initial exam. We can run blood tests and have results generally within about ten minutes. We also can take radiographs and perform ultrasounds while you wait. We utilize the services of a veterinary reference laboratory for specialized blood test and biopsy results. In addition, we can reach out to a variety of specialists via telemedicine. Depending on the specific condition or severity of disease, we can prescribe medications from our in-house pharmacy or hospitalize those patients who need more intensive care. We educate the client on the available treatment options so that you may make an informed and trusted decision on the care of your loved ones. Our hope is that by early detection and treatment of your pet’s conditions, we can ensure a speedy recovery and return to normal activity with you and your family.