Skip to Main Content

Ask About Financing

Why Pet Endoscopies Are Important

The purpose of an endoscopy for cats and dogs is to identify the underlying cause of symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain or swelling, vomiting, or diarrhea in pets. In this post, our Turlock veterinarians discuss this diagnostic test. 

What is an endoscope?

An endoscope is a long, flexible, or rigid fiber-optic tube with a video camera attached at the tip. A veterinarian inserts this imaging device into your cat or dog's mouth or rectum to see the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine or colon in full color.

The video that's captured is then transmitted to a special computer in real-time, allowing your vet to guide the endoscope where needed during an internal exam of your pet's body.

Instruments such as grabbing forceps may be passed through the tube to perform procedures such as object removal or a biopsy. In most cases, an endoscopy is considered less invasive than a surgical procedure. 

Unfortunately, there are some places in the body that an endoscope is unable to reach. If this is the case for your pet's situation, your veterinarian will recommend an alternative treatment plan. 

Types of Endoscopy 

Depending on your cat or dog's symptoms, a vet may order a specific type of endoscopic procedure. Here is a brief rundown of each:

Flexible Endoscopy 

  • Bronchoscopy - An exam of the lower airways 
  • Colonoscopy - An examination of the colon, large bowel, and rectum
  • Endoscopy - An exam of the stomach, esophagus, and upper intestines 

Rigid Endoscopy 

  • Arthroscopy - An exam of joint cartilage and soft tissue structures (which are not visible on X-rays) 
  • Cystoscopy - An examination of the urethral opening, urethra, bladder, ureteral openings, and vagina 
  • Laparoscopy - An exam of the abdominal cavity performed through a small incision in the wall of the abdomen or through the naval. This will allow your vet to obtain biopsy samples from the kidney and liver. 
  • Proctoscopy - An exam of the rectum and large bowel 
  • Rhinoscopy - An exam of the nasal cavity and nasopharaynx (junction between the nasal area and back of the throat). 
  • Thoracoscopy - An examination of the chest cavity. This is currently not frequently performed on pets.  

Why Endoscopies Are Important

An endoscopy allows your veterinarian to visually examine your dog's or cat's gastrointestinal tract and other organs without having to perform invasive surgery. The procedure can help determine whether a foreign object is lodged in your pet's body. It can also detect abnormal cells, inflammation, tumors, and esophageal strictures (a band of scar tissue that narrows the esophagus, making swallowing difficult, particularly with solid foods).

Some of these may not be visible on traditional X-rays or ultrasounds, which means without an endoscopy, the underlying cause of illness or injury may not be identified, and your veterinarian would not be able to make an accurate diagnosis. 

The Endoscopy Procedure for Cats & Dogs

Prior to a gastrointestinal endoscopy, your pet must not have any feces or foods in their stomach. Depending on the particular area your vet plans to examine with the endoscope, your pet will need to fast for 12 to 18 hours to clear its system. At least one enema may be needed before the procedure. 

Your pet will be sedated during an endoscopy so that your veterinarian can thoroughly examine the stomach, esophagus, intestinal tract, and/or colon. The endoscope will be inserted through your pet's mouth or rectum and gently pushed forward to allow the veterinarian to see the area.

Your veterinarian can take precise biopsy samples from any abnormal areas during the procedure. These samples consist of tiny pieces of tissue cut from the organ's lining by the biopsy instrument.

If a biopsy is required or your vet needs to remove a foreign object, grabbing forceps may be passed through the endoscope to perform this procedure. 

How much will my cat or dog's endoscopy cost?

The cost of your pet's endoscopy will vary depending on the veterinarian who performs the procedure and any additional services or medications required. For specific pricing information, please contact your veterinary clinic.

How long does a cat or dog's endoscopy take?

The duration of this procedure varies depending on the procedure and the cat or dog's condition. On average, it takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete.

Results From Your Pet's Endoscopy Procedure 

Because your veterinarian can examine your pet's organs in real time, you will be able to see the results right away. However, a pathologist typically examines biopsies to make a final diagnosis. Depending on the situation, this could take up to a week.

Conditions Commonly Diagnosed Using Endoscopy

An endoscopy allows your veterinarian to detect abnormalities such as:

  • Inflammation
  • Abnormal abdominal swelling due to tumors, intestinal blockage, or accumulation of fluid 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 
  • Gastrointestinal foreign bodies such as hairballs, rocks, sticks, coins, or others

Detecting Cancer in Pets Using Endoscopy 

In many cases, your veterinarian can use an endoscope to diagnose gastrointestinal cancer.

However, not all tumors affect the stomach or colon mucosa. In these cases, the biopsy results are normal, but the pet still shows clinical signs. Biopsies obtained during exploratory surgery (exploratory laparotomy) or non-invasive tests (MRI) may be required.

Your Pet's Recovery From the Endoscopy Procedure

Most pets recover quickly and easily after an endoscopy. Your pet should be released shortly following the procedure. Once your pet is awake and responding to treatment, he should be able to return home for rest.

Depending on the purpose of the endoscopy, your pet may be able to resume play and eating almost right away. If the endoscopy includes a biopsy, the pathology report may take up to a week. If the endoscopy is for discovery, your veterinarian will explain the next steps and options to you. If the procedure was to locate and remove a foreign object, you and your pet should be able to resume normal activities immediately following the endoscopy and recovery from anesthesia.

A dog or cat endoscopy may cause temporary side effects, such as discomfort, mild bleeding, or irritation at the procedure site. To reduce the risk of complications, follow your veterinarian's post-procedure care instructions.

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.

Have you noticed concerning symptoms of illness in your dog or cat? Contact Taylor Veterinary Emergency today to have your pet seen by one of our skilled vets.

New Patients Welcome

Taylor Veterinary Emergency is accepting new patients! Our experienced Turlock vets are passionate about the health of cats and dogs. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

Contact Us

Contact (209) 669-8600