STUART, Fla. - Ralph wasn't acting like himself.
The corgi-mix, 14, was sluggish, his neck was tilted and he was afraid to cross thresholds.
His owners, Don and Allison Poole, brought the dog to their veterinarian for a diagnosis. After testing for every possibility but finding nothing, the vet referred the Pooles to Veterinary Neurology of South Florida.
The practice, based in Stuart and West Palm beach, offers MRI scanning. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
"This technology allows us to see inside the skull, see the brain, see inside the column, see the spinal cord so we're able now to diagnose diseases that we just could not in the past," says Dr. Julia Blackmore.
Blackmore quickly spotted the problem on Ralph's scans, a meningioma. The tumor is highly treatable if caught early.
The Pooles took Ralph to a cancer center in Ft. Lauderdale. He underwent a month of radiation and now seems to be back to his old self.
MRI technology won't cure animals. It simply reveals problems that can't be spotted any other way.
For many pet owners, the MRI reveals what they had hoped they wouldn't see, an incurable brain tumor.
But the technology offers them peace of mind, allowing pet owners to make the right decisions about their pet's care.
MRI technology isn't the only procedure gaining ground in the animal world.
At Tri-County Animal Hospital in Ft. Pierce, Dr. Annette Sysel is using stem cell technology to treat dogs, cats and horses with osteoarthritis and tendon and ligament injuries.
Vets first harvest the stem cells from the patient's fat.
The cells get "supercharged" using LED lights. Sysel then injects them into the problem areas where they target and repair damaged tissues.
Stem cells not only alleviate pain, they can eliminate it.
Tri-County has only been using the technology for a month and they've already noticed a big change in their patients.
"Some of the pets that we've injected with stem cells are now running around," says Sysel. "They're going to great the mailman. They're running out and biting at the vacuum cleaner in the pool, things that they haven't done for years."
Both procedures are expensive.
Stem cell treatments cost about $1,800 for dogs.
The MRIs offered out of the mobile unit at Veterinary Neurology of South Florida cost about $1,300.
Some pet insurance companies are now beginning to cover some of the costs from the procedures.
The Pooles spent $12,000 getting Ralph diagnosed and treated for his brain tumor.
They say having more time with their beloved pet was worth any cost.
"He's an incredible dog," says Allison Poole.
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