A Closer Look: Exploring Endoscopy in Dogs

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If your dog is under the weather and the reason isn’t immediately apparent, your veterinarian may recommend an endoscopy to help reach a conclusive diagnosis. This minimally invasive procedure offers an internal look at your dog’s organs without causing any unnecessary stress or discomfort since it requires sedation.

What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure performed right in your veterinarian’s office, providing a real-time look at your dog’s internal organs. It involves using an endoscope—a medical instrument with a camera. A rigid endoscope examines smaller organs, such as the nose and throat, while a flexible endoscope examines larger organs, such as the intestines. While many pet owners associate endoscopy specifically with gastrointestinal issues, it is used to help diagnose several different diseases.

Irish setter being intubated for endoscopy.

Endoscopy can be used to examine the following internally:

  • Nose
  • Ears
  • Mouth
  • Trachea
  • Esophagus
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Rectum
  • Urethra and Bladder

Why is My Veterinarian Recommending an Endoscopy?

If an endoscopy has been recommended, it’s likely because your dog is experiencing weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, urinary or respiratory issues, and your veterinarian needs clarity on what is causing those symptoms. If bloodwork, X-ray, and ultrasound appear normal, your veterinarian may need to perform further tests to help reach a diagnosis—with endoscopy being one of those tests. An endoscopy will allow them to take a closer look inside your dog and collect tissue for biopsy if needed. Endoscopy can also be used if your dog has a bowel obstruction from swallowing a foreign object. A small clasping mechanism can be attached to the endoscope to attempt to retrieve the object.

What Is Involved In a Dog Endoscopy?

An endoscopy varies depending on your dog’s need, but the process involves general anesthesia. After sedation, the endoscope is inserted into the proper orifice, depending on your dog’s symptoms. The veterinarian will have a real-time visual of your dog’s internal organs as the endoscope is maneuvered. The procedure may last from 30-60 minutes. The veterinarian may extract tissue samples for biopsy depending on what is seen. Except for biopsy results, most endoscopies result in the veterinarian being able to determine a diagnosis.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for an Endoscopy?

Since local or general anesthesia will be administered for your dog’s endoscopy, they should receive a thorough examination from your veterinarian before the procedure. This will help ensure they are in good health and can easily handle both the anesthesia and the process. Your dog must also fast before the endoscopy, as it’s important that their stomach and bowels are empty for the endoscope to work effectively.

Yellow lab at veterinary hospital with DVM.

What Is Involved in Endoscopy Recovery?

Dogs are typically allowed to return home the same day as the endoscopy after they recover from the anesthesia. The only situation that warrants an overnight stay is if your dog is suffering from a serious illness that requires monitoring, which is unrelated to the endoscopy itself. Side effects from endoscopy are rare since it is a minimally invasive exploratory procedure.

Ending Notes

While the thought of our furry friends undergoing any medical procedure can be daunting, understanding the whys and hows of endoscopy can bring peace of mind. This minimally invasive technique not only aids in accurate diagnoses but can also be critical in providing timely and effective treatments. Remember, early detection is often key to managing health issues, and endoscopy is a powerful partner in protecting the well-being of our precious pups.

If you suspect your pup might benefit from this procedure, please contact us for more information at 734-453-0485. After all, when it comes to the health and happiness of our four-legged family members, being well-informed is the first step towards ensuring they live long, tail-wagging lives!

If you have questions and would like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at 734-453-0485 or email us at [email protected]. Don't forget to follow us on social media, Facebook, and Instagram.