You are good at observing your dog or cat at home. You notice subtle changes that may indicate your favorite four-legged family member has a change in health. Your veterinarian is skilled in listening to you and observing your pet. But there may be health changes you don’t notice at home, and there is always a lot that dogs and cats don’t show and can’t tell you and your veterinarian.
In addition to good observation skills and experience, your veterinarian has many tools that help detect abnormal conditions in your dog or cat. One of the more exciting is non-invasive, non-painful thermal imaging.
What are thermal images and how can they help my pet?
Thermal images are a visual representation of the surface body temperatures of a patient and give physiological information about what is going on below the surface. Increased temperatures (hyperthermia) may indicate inflammation, infection, or malignancy. Decreased temperatures (hypothermia) may indicate atrophy or neurological dysfunction.
Thermal images can quickly be captured in the quiet comfort of your veterinarians’ office and give your veterinarian an instant roadmap that helps localize and pinpoint problems. With a clearer picture of your pet’s problems, your veterinarian can more accurately plan diagnostics and therapeutics, and communicate with you how to solve those problems.
Once a therapeutic plan is established, thermal images give clear, objective information that helps you and your veterinarian monitor patient response to therapy. The images may demonstrate that your pet is responding and that you need to continue the therapeutic program. Or, if the images indicate your pet is not responding, you will better understand the need to change the treatment plan.
Thermal image looking down on the shoulders of a 6-year old retired racing greyhound. The owners had noted lameness in the forelimbs. The image shows abnormal increased temperatures over the shoulder blades, with higher temperatures over the left shoulder blade and surrounding muscles. This image indicates the need for more focused diagnostics to assess the bones and muscles in the area.
Attribution for the thermal Image: Thermal image courtesy of Lauren Bueter, RVT, Middlebury Animal Clinic, Middlebury, IN.