From Blood Tests to Biopsies: A Comprehensive Overview of Services Offered by Veterinary Diagnostic Labs

Maintaining their health and well-being is of utmost importance when it comes to caring for our beloved pets. One key aspect of ensuring the optimum health of our furry friends is utilizing the comprehensive services offered by veterinary diagnostic labs. This article will discuss a wide range of diagnostic services, from routine blood tests and urinalyses to complex procedures like biopsies.

In-House Laboratory Services

Veterinarians play a crucial role in identifying and diagnosing potential pet health issues. Through careful physical examinations and basic diagnostic tests, they gather vital information that helps to assess an animal’s overall health. The diagnostic process often begins at the veterinarian’s clinic with an in-house laboratory. Here are some of the in-house laboratory services:

Blood Tests

One of the most common diagnostic tests performed on pets is the Complete Blood Count (CBC), which provides essential information about an animal’s red and white blood cells and platelets. Another valuable test is the blood chemistry panel, which assesses organ function, blood sugar levels, and other critical health markers. These blood tests aid veterinarians in diagnosing various health issues and monitoring ongoing medical conditions.


A urinalysis is an essential diagnostic test that examines a pet’s urine to detect urinary tract diseases such as infections, inflammation, or kidney disease. This test evaluates the appearance, chemical composition, and microscopic content of the urine, providing valuable insights into the animal’s overall health and urinary organ function.

Stool Tests

Stool tests are performed to identify potential parasites and infections present in an animal’s gastrointestinal system. By examining the pet’s fecal sample, veterinarians can detect parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and giardia. These findings help guide the appropriate treatment to resolve these issues and restore the pet’s digestive health.


Cytology is the examination of individual cells under a microscope. Veterinarians often use this technique to analyze samples from a pet’s skin, body fluids, or internal organs to identify abnormal cells, inflammation, or infection. This information is invaluable in making an accurate diagnosis and determining the best course of treatment.

Specialized Tests Specific to the Animal’s Health Issue

Sometimes, a pet may require specialized diagnostic tests not routinely performed during a regular check-up. These tests may include advanced imaging techniques (MRI, ultrasound), histopathology (examining tissue samples), or endocrine testing (evaluating hormone function). Based on the pet’s specific health issue, a veterinarian may recommend one or more specialized tests to achieve a precise diagnosis.

Diagnostic Imaging Services


Radiology, or X-ray imaging, is a non-invasive diagnostic tool used to assess the internal structures of a pet’s body, such as bones, joints, and organs. Radiology is useful for identifying fractures, dislocations, organ abnormalities, foreign bodies, and tumors. This imaging method provides a wealth of information that aids the veterinarian in determining the appropriate treatment plan for the pet.


Ultrasound is another non-invasive imaging method that utilizes high-frequency sound waves to generate images of internal body structures. It is particularly useful for visualizing soft tissues, such as muscles, blood vessels, and internal organs. Veterinarians often use ultrasound to diagnose pregnancies, detect tumors, monitor ongoing health conditions, and guide biopsy procedures.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI is a specialized imaging technique that uses magnetic fields and radiofrequency waves to create detailed images of an animal’s internal structures. This method offers more detail than X-rays and ultrasound, making it ideal for diagnosing complex health issues such as neurological disorders, tumors, and certain orthopedic conditions.

Outside Laboratory Services

Reasons for Sending Samples to an Outside Lab

Sometimes, a veterinarian may need to send samples to an outside, specialized veterinary diagnostic lab to obtain accurate and timely results. These labs provide advanced diagnostic testing equipment and expertise that in-house laboratories may not offer. Further, these labs typically have highly trained personnel who can assist with complex diagnoses and recommend appropriate treatments.

Advanced Diagnostic Tests

Outside veterinary diagnostic labs often perform advanced diagnostic tests that provide valuable information for diagnosing a pet’s health issue. These tests may include histopathology for examining tissue samples, endocrine testing for assessing hormone function, serology for detecting antibodies and antigens, and DNA testing for genetic predispositions and parentage analysis. With the results of these tests, the veterinarian can make a more informed diagnosis and develop a targeted treatment plan.

Microbiology Tests

Microbiology tests are conducted to identify specific bacteria or other organisms causing infection in a pet. By sending samples to an outside laboratory for culture and sensitivity testing, veterinarians can determine the most effective antibiotic or treatment regimen for a particular infection. This targeted approach promotes faster resolution of the issue and reduces the likelihood of antibiotic resistance development.

Biopsies in Veterinary Medicine

Indications for Performing a Biopsy

A biopsy is a diagnostic procedure involving removing a small tissue sample from a pet’s body for examination. Biopsies are usually performed when other diagnostic tests, such as blood tests or imaging studies, fail to provide a definitive diagnosis. Common reasons for performing a biopsy include:

  • Identifying the cause of a persistent skin lesion.
  • Determining the nature of an internal mass.
  • Diagnosing an unexplained organ dysfunction.

Types of Biopsies

Veterinarians may perform several types of biopsies, depending on the pet’s specific health issue. These include fine-needle aspirate, Tru-Cut biopsy, incisional biopsy, and excisional biopsy. Each technique has its benefits and risks, and the veterinarian will choose the most appropriate method based on the individual pet’s needs and medical circumstances.

Risks and Considerations

While biopsies are vital in veterinary medicine, they carry some risks, such as bleeding, infection, or negative reactions to anesthesia. However, with proper preparation, execution, and aftercare, most successful biopsies provide crucial information that guides the pet’s treatment and prognosis.

The Importance of Routine Diagnostic Testing

Consistent diagnostic testing is crucial for maintaining our pets’ overall health and well-being. Routine tests help to detect diseases at their earliest stages, enabling prompt intervention and treatment. Regularly monitoring chronic health conditions ensures that changes are quickly identified and addressed. Ultimately, these tests help us provide our pets a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.


The wide range of services offered by veterinary diagnostic labs plays a crucial role in ensuring our pet’s overall health and well-being. By understanding the various diagnostic tests available, from blood tests to biopsies, we can best support our pets and provide the care and attention they deserve. We can keep our furry friends healthy and thriving for years with proper diagnostics and a partnership with skilled veterinary professionals.


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