The purpose of an endoscopy for a dog or cat is to help your veterinarian discover the reason behind your pet’s vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain or swelling, loss of appetite, and many other gastrointestinal issues. Today, our Sacramento vets will guide you through the process of an endoscopy in dogs and cats.

What is an endoscope?

An endoscope is a medical instrument used to visually examine the internal organs and structures of dogs and cats. A long, flexible tube with a light and camera attached to one end allows the veterinarian to see real-time images of your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, or other areas of interest. It is typically inserted through either the mouth or rectum.

How can an endoscopy diagnose and treat digestive issues in pets?

The endoscope provides full-color images of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine, or colon. The veterinarian can detect conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and abnormal swelling. They can also detect and retrieve foreign bodies such as bones, sticks, rocks, toys, coins, and hairballs.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Pets with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience chronic gastrointestinal disorders caused by inflammation in the digestive tract. Both dogs and cats can experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and poor appetite.

An endoscopy can help because it allows veterinarians to see the inflamed areas and collect tissue samples for further examination. This procedure assesses the disease's severity and informs treatment planning, which may include dietary changes, medication, or both.

Abnormal Abdominal Swelling

Pets with abnormal abdominal swelling have excessive enlargement or bloating of the abdomen that is not caused by normal weight gain or pregnancy. Fluid accumulation, organ enlargement, tumors, or intestinal blockages are some of the possible underlying causes.

An endoscopy can help by allowing a veterinarian to visually examine the internal organs and tissues of the abdomen to see the cause of the swelling and make a diagnosis for appropriate treatment.

Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies

Pets can consume foods that can become lodged in their digestive tract. Toys, bones, fabric, coins, buttons, and a variety of other items may fall into this category. An endoscopy can help by allowing veterinarians to see and remove the foreign body without requiring invasive surgery.

In some cases, however, if the foreign body is too large or has caused severe damage, surgery may be necessary to ensure the 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, discuss any medications or allergies your pet may have. These allergies can cause inflammation or irritation in the gastrointestinal tract, influencing the appearance and interpretation of endoscopic findings.

Will my pet need anesthesia?

Indeed, they will. It is almost impossible to safely insert an endoscope into a conscious pet's stomach or colon. Most pets only require a short-acting anesthesia and can return home shortly after the procedure.

When will I know the results?

Because the organs are being viewed in real time, we should be able to determine the results almost immediately. However, the final diagnosis is usually made after analyzing the tissue samples and biopsies. Depending on the circumstances, this could take up to a week.

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.

Has your pet eaten something they shouldn’t have, or are they experiencing chronic vomiting or unexplained weight loss? An endoscopy may be in order. Don't hesitate to contact our pet hospital in Sacramento to book an appointment.