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Endoscopy for Diagnosing & Treating Digestive Issues in Pets

Does your pet have an endoscopy examination coming up? This procedure can help your vet diagnose the cause of digestive issues such as weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Our vets in Vancouver explain what endoscopies are and how they can be used to diagnose issues.

What is an endoscope? 

An endoscope is a flexible tube that has a camera on the end, which allows your veterinarian to see inside your pet's organs. An endoscopy is a safe, routine diagnostic exam to diagnose gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, gagging, vomiting, weight loss, and loss of appetite. It generally comes with few risks.

The main risk associated with the procedure is allergic reaction to anesthetic, but anesthetic death is extremely rare since the anesthesia is short-acting.

When our vets perform endoscopy for dogs or cats, the endoscope is inserted into your pet's colon or stomach through the mouth or rectum into the intestinal tract to detect issues such as abscesses, ulcers, cancer, internal trauma, abnormal cell tumors or blockages. It can also be used to find foreign objects. 

How effective are endoscopies in dogs and cats?

An endoscope reveals the color of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine or colon. When your vet examines these areas, they can detect abnormalities such as abnormal swelling, scarring, inflammation and strictures (abnormal narrowing).

When this exam is performed for specific reasons, an endoscopy is the best method of discovery and definitive diagnosis. It offers a real-time view of the tracts and organs being inspected, which allows the veterinarian to see any trouble spots. 

If your dog or cat is experiencing stomach or esophageal problems, an endoscopy can capture a clear picture of the situation, whether a foreign object is blocking these structures, or an ulcer is causing pain that can be treated with medications and dietary changes.

Any abnormal areas can also have precise biopsy samples taken. The biopsy instrument can be used to cut tiny bits of tissue from the organ's lining. 

Can cancer be diagnosed with an endoscopy?

Your vet can use an endoscope to check for cancer in your pet's digestive system. Sometimes, this method doesn't show any issues, even if your pet has symptoms. In such cases, your vet might need to do more tests like exploratory surgery or an MRI.

What can I expect from the endoscopy procedure?

Depending on the location of the endoscope inspection, your pet will need to fast for 12 to 18 hours before a gastrointestinal endoscopy to clear their system of any food and feces. At least one enema may be required before the procedure. 

Your cat or dog will be sedated during this operation. A vet will insert the endoscope into the stomach or intestines through the mouth or rectum so they can see the problem area. If necessary, other tools can be used in combination with the endoscope to perform biopsies or remove objects. 

How fast will my cat or dog recover from an endoscopy?

After an endoscopy, most pets recover quickly since this procedure is diagnostic and minimally invasive. Your pet should be released shortly after the procedure. Your pet should be able to go home for rest once he or she is awake and responding to care. However, those with severe or life-threatening illnesses may be hospitalized for treatment. 

When will I know the results?

Though you'll see what's happening instantly, the final diagnosis may take up to a week for the pathology report, depending on the circumstances.

Our in-house veterinary diagnostic lab allows us to perform many diagnostic tests at our hospital, which means you won't have to make a trip to another facility to have the test done, and we are able to perform tests and receive results rapidly so any required treatment can begin as soon as possible.

Your vet will discuss what to do next if it is for something else. If the endoscopy was to remove an object, your pet can return to their normal routine right after waking from anesthesia. 

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.

Are you curious about your pet's upcoming endoscopic examination? Contact our Vancouver vets with any questions or concerns you may have. We'd be happy to address them for you.

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Columbia River Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients by referral and for emergency services. Our experienced emergency vets  and specialists are passionate about the health of Vancouver companion animals. Ask your vet today about a referral.

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