• An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Most allergens are proteins from plants, insects, animals, or foods. In dogs, the most common symptom associated with allergies is itchy skin, either localized (in one area) or generalized (all over the body). In other cases, the allergic symptoms affect the digestive system, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms of allergies can be confused with other disorders or occur concurrently with them.

  • Antibody titers are sometimes needed to diagnose disease. Antibody titers reflect the level of antibody that the pet has made in response to exposure to a certain infectious organism. The titer is determined by sequentially diluting the serum and testing it against the organism in question. The more dilute the serum when it stops producing a positive reaction, the higher the concentration of antibodies present in the blood. Titers give support to a diagnosis, allowing more targeted treatment and more specific prognostic information, as well as identifying zoonotic disease (diseases transmissible between animals and humans).

  • This handout discusses arthroscopy, the insertion of a telescope-like camera into a joint. The joints commonly examined and treated using this technique, along with the benefits and risks of this procedure, are outlined.

  • Bile acids are compounds that are made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder and help with digestion of foods. The bile acid test is a very useful test that helps to determine if the liver is working properly. An abnormal bile acid test result indicates there is a problem in the liver, but it does not provide information about the cause, severity, or reversibility of the problem. Further testing is required to investigate the problem.

  • Bone marrow is vitally important for the production of blood cells, specifically red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Bone marrow is commonly collected and examined when abnormalities are found in the circulating blood. Bone marrow examination is complicated and should be done by a specialist. The pathologist’s report typically provides information about the health of the marrow, what types of cells are present, whether abnormal cells are found, and other details that may help to explain the patient’s illness. However, in some cases, bone marrow examination may do nothing more than confirm that there is a problem.

  • The fastest way to examine large numbers of white blood cells is to look at a buffy coat smear. One of the most important cells to look for in a buffy coat is called a mast cell. Mast cells play an important role in allergies and related conditions.

  • Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear, colorless fluid found in the brain and spinal cord. The collection of CSF is usually indicated when a pet shows clinical signs, such as seizures, incoordination, circling behavior, and neck or back pain, when no obvious cause is known. The veterinary pathologist will evaluate the sample for a total nucleated cell count, a red blood cell count, a total protein determination, and a concentration of the cells in the sample. The presence of bacteria or fungal organisms may be detected along with increased numbers of inflammatory cells, leading to a diagnosis of bacterial or fungal infection. Neoplastic cells may also be found, indicating an underlying tumor within the brain or spinal cord.

  • Coagulation is the series of events that result in the formation of a clot. In the body, coagulation occurs after any injury to a blood vessel or tissue, in order to stop bleeding. Some breeds of dogs are known to have a higher incidence of clotting factor deficiencies and with these breeds, coagulation tests may be used for screening purposes prior to diagnostic or surgical procedures.

  • A Coombs’ test is used to test for a disease called autoimmune hemolytic anemia (IMHA). IMHA is a condition where the immune system breaks down or destroys red blood cells, leading to anemia. The test detects the presence of immunoglobulins (antibodies) on the surface of red blood cells. Taken together, the physical findings and the laboratory data (such as a Coombs’ test) may suggest that immune-mediated destruction of red blood cells is the most likely cause of your pet's anemia.

  • Cushing's disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is the overproduction of cortisol hormone by a dog's body. Several initial tests help to diagnose this condition. The clinical signs of Cushing's disease are similar, regardless of the underlying cause of the disease. However, it is essential to identify the type of Cushing's disease as the treatment and prognosis differ slightly depending upon the form of the disease.