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Endoscopy for Diagnosing & Treating Digestive Issues in Pets

If a gastrointestinal issue is triggering symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea in your cat or dog, a veterinarian can order an endoscopy. Here, our St. Louis vets define the endoscopy procedure and explain which types of conditions it can be used to diagnose. 

Endoscopy for Dogs & Cats

An endoscopy is a procedure performed with an endoscope, a flexible tube that enters your pet's stomach or colon through the mouth or rectum.

A veterinarian can use this diagnostic tool to check the insides of these organs and identify issues such as obstructions or abnormal cell tumors. It can also be used to remove foreign objects. 

How can an endoscopy help my vet diagnose and treat my pet's digestive issues? 

An endoscope allows for full-color observation of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine, or colon. A veterinarian can diagnose conditions such as abnormal swelling or inflammatory bowel disease. They'll also usually be able to see and retrieve a foreign body such as a coin, hairball, toy, rock, bone, or stick. 

Abnormal Abdominal Swelling 

Pets with abnormal abdominal swelling experience excessive enlargement or bloating of the abdomen that cannot be attributed to pregnancy or normal weight gain. An underlying condition such as tumors, intestinal blockages, or accumulation of fluid may be the culprit. 

Endoscopy allows your veterinarian to visually examine your pet's internal organs and abdominal tissues to discover the cause of the swelling and make a diagnosis so they can effectively treat the condition. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

Pets with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) experience chronic gastrointestinal disorders caused by inflammation within the digestive tract. Both cats and dogs may experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite and weight loss. 

An endoscopy can help by enabling a veterinarian to see inflamed areas in your cat or dog's body and collect tissue samples for further analysis. The procedure helps determine the severity of disease and informs treatment planning, which may include medication, changes to your pet's diet, or both. 

Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies

Pets can eat things that can become lodged in their digestive tract. These can include items like toys, bones, fabric, coins, buttons, and a multitude of others. An endoscopy can help by allowing veterinarians to see and remove the foreign body without the need for invasive surgery.

In some cases, however, if the foreign body is too large or has caused severe damage, surgery may be necessary to ensure your pet's safety and well-being.

How can I prepare for my pet's endoscopy?

Talk to your veterinarian for specific instructions. Different pets may have different requirements. Your dog or cat may need to fast, for example, before the endoscopy to make sure the results are accurate.

Before the endoscopy, it’s also a good idea to discuss any medications or allergies your pet may have. These allergies can cause inflammation or irritation in the gastrointestinal tract, affecting the appearance and interpretation of endoscopic results.

Will my pet need anesthesia?

Yes, they will. Passing an endoscope into a conscious pet’s stomach or colon safely is almost impossible. Most pets only need a short-acting anesthesia and can go home shortly after we complete the procedure.

When will I know the results?

Since the organs are viewed in real-time, we should immediately know the results based on what we see. However, the study of the tissue samples and biopsies usually determines the final diagnosis. Depending on the individual circumstances, this may take up to a week.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Has your pet eaten something they shouldn't have, or are they experiencing unexplained weight loss or diarrhea? An endoscopy may be required. Contact our St. Louis vets at either of our locations right away.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Animal Emergency Clinic is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from St. Louis and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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