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Types of Diagnostic Testing for Dogs & Cats

Diagnostic tests are used to pinpoint the precise cause of your pet's symptoms. However, the different tests that veterinarians use each have unique benefits and drawbacks. Here, our Berkeley team explains some of the diagnostic tests available and what they are used for.

Pet Diagnostic Tests

Although diagnostic testing is an essential part of human medical diagnosis and treatment, these tests can be even more critical when it comes to accurately diagnosing our pet's symptoms. This is 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.

Below are some of the types of diagnostic testing for pets that veterinarians use when caring for the health of our pets.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are one of the most common diagnostic tests for pets. 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. These tests can be done quickly with just a small sample of blood. 


Urine tests are another common diagnostic test for dogs and cats. Urinalysis is used to evaluate kidney function, urinary tract infections, and other health issues related to the urinary system. Urine tests can be done quickly with just a small sample of urine. 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 to detect the presence of intestinal parasites in dogs and cats that may otherwise go undetected until symptoms arise. These tests simply involve taking a fresh sample of your pet's stool to your veterinarian's office for analysis. 

Heartworm Tests

Heartworm is a very serious, typically fatal condition in pets. 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 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.


Veterinary ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses sound waves to produce real-time images of internal organ function. 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 in order to monitor the health of developing fetuses.


Endoscopy is a process that involves the use of a small camera attached to a flexible tube. 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. Endoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal issues, but it can also be used to evaluate the respiratory system and other organs.


A biopsy is a diagnostic test that involves the removal of a small sample of tissue for examination. 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. Most pets require sedation to keep them still during the procedure.

Pet Diagnostic Tests at Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital

At Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital, we have access to a range of advanced tools that help our team of skilled veterinarians pinpoint the precise cause of your pet's medical issues so that we can provide you with an accurate and definitive diagnosis.

Our diagnostic imaging capabilities help us to provide more time-sensitive treatment options, and to efficiently share data with other veterinarians and veterinary specialists. 

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.

If your pet needs diagnostic tests, our Berkeley vets are here to help. Contact Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital today to book an appointment for your furry friend.

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