We are using diagnostic tests to determine what the underlying cause of your pet’s symptoms are. A lot of different diseases, ranging from cancers to infections can look the same way!
We always start with a basic blood panel/urinalysis – this is important for any sick pet (not to mention for the monitoring of healthy elderly pets). A basic blood panel and urinalysis is the first step in evaluating the issue and determining what medications should be used. It can also help us in determining if other systems are involved.
X-rays of the heart/lungs and the belly are also helpful in making sure there are no obvious systemic diseases that could be causing the abnormal signs. They are also helpful in determining if it is safe (although there are always risks) to put the patient under anesthesia.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is able to image the brain and spinal cord to help us determine likely causes and, therefore, the most appropriate treatments. CT is typically not helpful for imaging the brain and spinal cord for diseases like this because it focuses more on bone. MRI is considered best modality to evaluate the nervous system because it helps us evaluate soft tissue. General anesthesia is required to do an MRI and spinal tap, as the patient must be perfectly still throughout.