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Types of Diagnostic Tests for Pets

Diagnostic equipment and tests can help our vets diagnose serious conditions that can have severe complications if left untreated. Here, our Oceanside vets share some information about the most common types of diagnostic testing for pets and what these tests tell us about their health.

Why are diagnostic tests important for pets?

If your pet needs diagnostic testing it is usually to help determine a medical condition affecting their health. These tests are helpful 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. With diagnostic tests, we can help diagnose their illness quickly allowing us to begin treatment as soon as possible.

What are some common types of diagnostic testing?

Here are some of the most common types of diagnostic testing for pets that can be used to diagnose and monitor their health:

Blood Tests (Bloodwork)

While bloodwork can be used to diagnose specific medical conditions, it is also an important part of monitoring your pet's overall health. They are used to evaluate many different areas of their body and health 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. These simple and efficient tests can provide a large amount of detailed information related to your pet's health, quickly.


Your vet will likely perform a urinalysis as a part of your pet's annual checkup. 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

Parasites can cause serious illnesses and diseases. Regular fecal exams can help to catch infections early, preventing serious complications such as anemia and gastrointestinal distress. 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

Heartworms can have life-threatening implications for pets who develop an infection. Annual heartworm testing for dogs and cats is strongly recommended by many veterinarians. This type of testing typically involves a blood test that detects the presence of antigens produced by adult female heartworms. 

X-rays (Radiographs)

X-rays, or radiographs, 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.


Your vet may use a small tube fitted with a camera to take a look inside your pet's body. This is referred to as endoscopy. 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.


During a biopsy, your vet will take a small tissue sample from your pet. 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. It is often recommended for pets with heart disease or those at risk for heart disease. 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 Surfside Animal Hospital, our veterinarians have access to a range of advanced diagnostic tools to accurately diagnose your pet's medical conditions and tailor treatment plans to your pet's specific requirements.

Our Oceanside pet pharmacy is stocked with a variety of prescription diets and medications, allowing us quick access to any medications your pet may require while in our care.

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. 

Is your cat or dog showing symptoms pointing to an illness or condition? Please contact Surfside Animal Hospital to schedule an examination today.

Specialty Vets at Surfside Animal Hospital

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Surfside Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Oceanside companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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