The goal of a veterinary endoscopy procedure is to pinpoint the underlying cause of symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain or swelling, or loss of appetite in pets. Today, our Boulder and Westminster vets explain more about this valuable diagnostic test.

The Endoscope

An endoscope is a flexible tube with a viewing port and/or a video camera attachment that is inserted through the mouth into the stomach or the rectum into the colon. The endoscope allows for the examination of the insides of these hollow organs.

An endoscopy will aid in the diagnosis of strictures, abnormal cells, or tumors, as well as the removal of any foreign objects that may be present.

Why Endoscopies are Important

Endoscopies for pets are important because they allow veterinarians to visually examine the inside of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs without invasive surgery. This can help diagnose issues such as tumors, foreign objects, or inflammation that may not be visible on traditional X-rays or ultrasounds.

The Endoscopy Procedure for Pets

Before a gastrointestinal endoscopy, your pet will need to be free of all foods and feces. Depending on the internal location of the endoscope inspection, your pet will need to fast for 12 to 18 hours to clear its system. Before the procedure, at least one enema may be required.

Because an endoscopy allows for a thorough examination of the esophagus, stomach, intestinal tract, and/or colon, your pet will be sedated throughout the procedure. The endoscope will be inserted through the mouth or the rectum into your pet's stomach or intestinal tract and advanced to visualize the required area.

If a biopsy or foreign body removal is required, an additional device can be passed through the endoscope to perform other procedures as needed.

How long does an endoscopy take?

The duration of an endoscopy for pets can vary depending on the specific procedure being performed and the individual cat or dog’s condition. On average, an endoscopy for pets typically takes between 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete.

Results From Your Pet's Endoscopy Procedure

Because the organs are viewed in real-time, the outcome of what is seen is immediately known. However, the final diagnosis is usually determined by the pathologist's examination of the biopsies. Depending on the circumstances, this could take up to a week.

Conditions Commonly Diagnosed Using Endoscopy

With an endoscope for dogs or cats, your veterinarian can see the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine or colon in full color. The examiner can identify abnormalities, such as inflammation, abnormal swelling, scarring, and strictures (abnormal narrowing). Precise biopsy samples can be taken from any abnormal areas. These samples consist of tiny pieces of tissue cut from the organ's lining by the biopsy instrument.

Detecting Cancer In Pets With Endoscopy

In many cases, your veterinarian can use an endoscope to diagnose gastrointestinal cancer. However, some tumors do not affect the stomach or colon mucosa or inner lining. In these cases, the biopsy results are normal, but the pet continues to exhibit clinical signs. Biopsies taken during exploratory surgery (exploratory laparotomy) or non-invasive tests, such as an MRI, may be necessary.

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 immediately. If the endoscopy involves a biopsy, the pathology report could take up to a week. If the endoscopy is for discovery, your veterinarian will discuss the next steps and available options with you. If the procedure was to locate and remove a foreign object, you and your pet should be able to return to normal activities immediately after the endoscopy and recovery from anesthesia.

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

The Cost of a Cat or Dog Endoscopy

The cost of a pet endoscopy can vary depending on the veterinarian performing the procedure and any additional services or medications required. It is recommended to contact your veterinary clinic for specific pricing information. 

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.

Does your dog or cat need an endoscopy? Contact Boulder and Northside Emergency Pet Clinics today to learn more about the advanced diagnostic testing available at our Boulder and Westminster emergency hospitals to help pets in urgent situations.