Clinical Activities and Procedures

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NOTE: All requests/submissions/communications MUST come from a veterinarian.

For Submission Forms and Shipping Instructions for these procedures, please see our “Forms/Instructions/Lists” page.

The Necropsy Service pathologists conduct post-mortem examinations on VMTH patients while teaching veterinary students necropsy techniques and training resident veterinarians in pathology. Each animal is carefully examined externally for any abnormalities and then each organ is examined for evidence of disease. Tissue samples are preserved for microscopic examination, and other samples are taken to detect bacteria, fungi, viruses or toxins if infection or toxicity is suspected. The preserved tissues are examined microscopically by the pathologist and resident to detect disease conditions. A final necropsy report with all gross and microscopic findings, as well as other test results, is then prepared. The final necropsy report will consist of a list of all disease conditions detected and the pathologist’s opinion as to which conditions were important to the health of the animal and would account for the signs of disease in the animal before death.

We do not routinely perform necropsies on outside cases. Additionally, specialized necropsies for VMTH patients may incur a fee to the client.

(in-house or mail-in) The Biopsy Service pathologists examine tissues removed from live animals during surgery or endoscopy to determine the disease conditions present. The tissues are preserved and then prepared for microscopic examination. The pathologist and resident examine the tissues microscopically and prepare a biopsy report that includes a description of their findings and their interpretation as to what disease condition these findings represent. These findings guide the clinician’s decision for appropriate treatment for the animal and are the basis for the prognosis given to the client.

All biopsy samples must be submitted by a veterinarian. Owners may not submit their pet’s biopsies. If you are not a VMTH client and wish to have your pet’s biopsy processed here, you must go through your primary veterinarian. They can submit the biopsy to us for processing and will be our “referring veterinarian.” We will interact with them on your behalf regarding the processing and results of your pet’s biopsy. They will report final results to you.

Veterinarians should contact the service office for current pricing information at 530-752-1368.

Comparative Ocular Pathology Service
Veterinary ophthalmologists and general practitioners can send ocular samples (globes, periocular tissue, orbital tissue, etc.) to this service for processing and interpretation by Dr. Christopher Reilly, a board-certified anatomic pathologist and faculty member with training and experience in ocular pathology. A special submission form is available here, which facilitates lesion orientation and special requests relevant to ocular submissions. The service is competitively priced, and offers the consulting expertise of colleagues at the VMTH, including experts in dermatopathology, neuropathology, and leukocyte pathology, as well as extensive immunohistochemistry and special staining techniques. Clinicopathologic correlates are emphasized, and collaboration on case reports and other clinical studies is encouraged. For more information, current pricing, or to set up an account with the VMTH, call 530-752-1368, or email

Teaching and research samples are submitted for routine H&E processing, as well as a wide variety of special stains, decalcification procedures and various specialty sectioning. Please contact the laboratory for specific information, turn-around times and project pricing at 530-752-3462. Click here for Special Stains available.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC) / Immunocytochemistry (ICC)
We offer a vast array of Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Immunocytochemistry (ICC) procedures. Please contact the laboratory at 530-752-3901 for specific information on IHC or ICC antibody availability or project pricing. Click here for IHC and ICC Antibodies available.

Disposition of Remains
Options Handling of Remains (Rendering and Cremation) Handling of remains fees will apply to all deceased equine patients, irrespective of necropsy procedures. Additionally, fees will apply to all non-VMTH deceased animals. Any non-equine, VMTH patient that undergoes necropsy procedures will not have a rendering fee or “group” cremation fee administered.

Holding Fees
Holding fees will apply to owners of pets that remain in cold storage with no owner decision on disposition of remains. The first weekly holding fee charge is administered on the 10th calendar day after the death of the animal if no arrangements have been made. Please notify your clinician once arrangements have been made, indicating who will be picking up your pet to avoid holding fees.

Cremation Options
Group Cremation All VMTH small animal deceased patients may be “group cremated” at our CAHFS facility, irrespective of necropsy procedures, at no charge to the client, if the decision for group cremation is made within 24 hours of the death of the animal. Holding fees will apply if you wait to inform your clinician of this decision.

Private Cremation
Owners may elect private cremation of their animals. A list of crematoriums is provided to clients upon the death of their pets. Owners must make the arrangements directly with the pet crematorium within three days of the death of their pets. Once the arrangements have been made between owners and pet cemeteries, the cemeteries will pick up directly from us and return the ashes/urns to the client.

Pet Cemetery and Crematory Information List
The VMTH is not affiliated with, nor do we endorse, any of these cemeteries or crematories. This list is merely provided to clients for their convenience and to assist during a difficult time.
Click here for Pet Cemetery List.