Digatherm Thermal Imaging

What is Digatherm?

Digatherm is thermal imaging that uses a highly sensitive infrared camera to measure electromagnetic energy emitted from a patient.  This energy can be measured as heat.  The specific software our camera uses converts the temperatures into images where these thermal emissions are converted into colors so we can visualize potential areas of concern (i.e lack of blood flow, inflammation, etc…). Temperature data directly correlates to changes within the circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. 

Why is this so important when evaluation patients with behavioral issues?

Any sort of chronic pain/discomfort can affect a pet’s behavior. This technology has been very helpful in showing areas of concern that then allow us to formulate appropriate next steps.

It is a great tool to use for patients for whom getting a physical exam is challenging due to anxiety or aggression or simply because the patient is very stoic since this is a non-invasive screening tool for which the patient does not need to be sedated. With these thermal images, we can identify any areas of concern and be much more specific about areas that need further diagnostic and or pain med trials. While this tool is especially helpful for these kinds of patients, it is a useful tool for pets that tolerate physical exams as well.

Does This Work for All Dogs?

There are some dogs with certain hair coats where we just can’t get valuable images. The dogs that are not well suited for this imaging are those with thick fur or tight curls. 

Ideal Coat For Imaging

Not An Ideal Coat For Imaging 

Case Studies

Case Study 1

One year old French Bulldog who was showing aggressive behaviors towards one of his owners in various contexts. These behaviors were intermittent. Based on these images, the clients pursued further diagnostics which revealed hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and formation of a syrinx in the upper spinal cord ( that area along the back of the neck that is blue and purple that should not be those colors). This information allowed the doctors at ABC of NJ and the clients to have realistic expectations of outcomes, allowed the clients to go ahead and start treatment for these issues to help delay the progression of the disease as much as possible while we started a behavioral treatment plan.

Case Study 2

Six year old Pitbull who was exhibiting a set back in his behavioral issues and the doctor was concerned about pain/discomfort based on some subtle signs while she was observing him walk around during a recheck appointment. The dog was very stoic on exam but these digatherm images show a BIG difference in his left and right sides. One side was way more inflamed (more red) than the other. With a trial course of pain meds, the dog improved 60% with respect to the setback with behavioral issues and we then adjusted the behavioral meds to see if we could see further improvement once we had addressed the pain.

Case Study 3

One year old mixed breed that had the occasional limp on a hind leg end along with some aggression issues. The images revealed areas of concern in the lower back/hip area (the left hip area was more blue than it should be as were the back of the thighs). Radiographs confirmed hip dysplasia and “mild” arthritis.  With treatment for pain, the dog’s overall mood improved which was great and now we could address the behavioral issues with a behavioral treatment plan. Because this was diagnosed EARLY, so much more can be done to slow down the progression of the arthritis.

Case Study 4

Four year old Bulldog: It is very clear that back of the left leg is very different from the back of the right leg. It should be symmetrical! The doctors recommended pursuing further diagnostics but in the meantime put this dog on anti-inflammatories and pain meds and after just one week the client said: “He has been on the anti-inflammatory for a little over a week, and I’ve seen drastic changes. She is running around and has also been able to not be reactive around family members which is new”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get this done anywhere?

Some veterinarians utilize this technology in which case you can get it done at your vet’s office. As far as veterinary behaviorists, Dr. Levine and Dr. Sabrina of the Animal Behavior Clinic of New Jersey are the only veterinary behaviorists in the country who utilize this tool.

Does my dog have to have a behavior consult in order to get a digatherm performed?

No, you do not need to have a dog with behavior problems or have an appointment with the doctors at ABC of NJ. We do schedule digatherm appointments only. You can call 201-212-6448 to learn more.

How long does it take to perform the digatherm and how long until results come back?

How long it takes depends on the behavior of the patient and how many images need to be taken. Every patient must first acclimate to room temperature so there is a 10 minute waiting period and then the actual image taking is between 5 and 15 minutes. It usually takes the doctors a week to look through images and email you a report.

Will I be present in the room with my pet?


Does my pet need to be sedated?

No. They are fully awake while we take pictures of them. If they like treats, they can eat treats throughout the whole process.