Do you know what I would like? I would like to have a Star Trek Tricorder. You know, one of those fancy boxes you where you wave a probe over a patient, and it tells you everything you need to know about what is going on in that body.
Much of what I do involves playing “Mystery Detective”. I gather together clues to figure out what is going on with a pet’s health, and what we are going to do about it. Now, I take a really thorough history, and perform a pretty mean physical exam – but there are some clues I just can not get these ways.
Luckily, I have high technology to help me! Well, not a Tricorder… but I have access to the services and equipment of my Referral Lab.
A blood profile is the best snapshot of what is going on with internal organs and blood cells.
For example, I saw a cat a while ago that I could tell had something going on with her liver – she was really jaundiced! What I could not tell until I got the blood results was that her pancreas was inflamed too.
Or another cat with a liver issue: I could tell that her liver was probably involved in what was making her sick, because I could feel an enlarged liver with rounded margins. What I had no idea of until we got her blood results was that an overactive thyroid gland had started the whole liver issue.
The lab also gives me access to specialists, such as the Histopathologists that examine tissue samples under the microscope. I saw a little dog lately who had a soft mass in her armpit. It would seem to drain down and then fill up again every few weeks – we thought is was some type of cyst. I took a fine-needle sample of it, and spread the cells from my needle onto some microscope slides for the lab to look at. It turned out the mass was a tumour! It was made of cells called mast cells – when they release their load of Histamine (the allergy chemical), they cause swelling around themselves that we interpreted as a cyst filling up.
I am so saddened when people “give up” on an ailing pet, not realizing that they have options. Often, if clinical signs are indisctinct, and all they can see is a vague ADR (“Ain’t Doing Right”), there is a tendency to shrug and say “Oh well, he’s just old.” Not necessarily!! A little clue-finding – history-taking, physical exam, and lab services – can yield the clues needed to figure out the mystery. If we can figure it out, we have a chance to address it!
So if you see your pet just sort of fading, put your very own Mystery Detective and High Tech Tools to work for you!