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Types of Diagnostic Tests for Pets

Tests performed in a veterinary lab can help monitor your cat or dog's health or diagnose conditions affecting their health. Today, our Lacey vets talk about the importance of diagnostic tests for pets and what some of the most common types are that your vet may use to care for your companion.

When Pets Need Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests help your vet to determine the cause of your pet's symptoms and deliver a treatment plan quickly. This is crucial because our pets are unable to tell us how they are feeling, where they are experiencing pain or discomfort, and what kind of pain they feel. Diagnostic testing can help your vet determine the cause of your pet's symptoms quickly so that treatment can get started without delay.

So what types of diagnostic testing are used in veterinary care? Read on to find out:

Blood Tests

Blood tests not only help to diagnose serious medical issues but can also be used to track your pet's overall health. They are used to evaluate a variety of health issues including organ function, electrolyte levels, blood cell counts, and more. Blood tests can be done as part of your pet's annual checkup or when you are concerned about symptoms your dog or cat is showing. Annual blood tests are especially important for older pets, as they are more susceptible to certain diseases and health conditions. Blood tests allow your vets to gain a great deal of information out of a quick and non-invasive test.


Urinalysis is a standard part of most annual exams. Urinalysis is used to evaluate kidney function, urinary tract infections, and other health issues related to the urinary system. These tests can often be done on urine collected by pet parents however, in some cases, a veterinarian may need to collect urine directly from the bladder through a needle.

Fecal Testing

Fecal tests help veterinarians detect the presence of intestinal parasites in dogs and cats that may otherwise go undetected until symptoms arise. If your pet is due for a fecal exam, your vet will ask that you bring a fresh stool sample with you to your pet's exam.

Heartworm Tests

The prevention and treatment of heartworms are very important as this parasite can be life-threatening. Annual heartworm testing for dogs and cats is strongly recommended by many veterinarians. Heartworm testing typically involves a blood test that detects the presence of 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 uses sound waves to provide your vet with valuable insight into the function of your pet's organs. This technology is commonly used to evaluate the health of the heart, liver, and kidneys. Ultrasound is often recommended for pets with suspected heart or liver disease, or for pregnant pets to monitor the health of developing fetuses.


Endoscopy is performed using a tube with a camera on the end to allow for a view of what is happening within your pet's body. 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 in a minimally invasive way. Endoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal issues, but it can also be used to evaluate the respiratory system and other organs.


To perform a biopsy, your vet will collect a small sample of your pet's tissue. 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 electrical activity of the heart. This diagnostic test is commonly used in pets experincing heart disease or those who are high risk. 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. This will help to keep your pet still.

Our Diagnostic Testing & Lab

At Olympia Pet Emergency, we have access to a range of advanced tools that help our team of vets pinpoint the precise cause of your pet's medical issues so that we can provide you with an accurate and definitive diagnosis.

Our team is happy to refer you and your pet to a specialist if we do not have the type of diagnostic equipment needed. You will then bring your pet to an external diagnostic lab with the appropriate imaging technology, or send a blood, urine, or biopsy sample from your pet to an external veterinary diagnostic testing facility in the Lacey area.

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. 

Our veterinary diagnostic lab is fully equipped to help diagnose your pet's condition in an emergency. Please contact Olympia Pet Emergency if your pet needs emergency care, day or night.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Olympia Pet Emergency, you can always access our full complement of emergency services without an appointment. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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Contact (360) 455-5155