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X-Rays & CT Scans for Cats & Dogs

If your dog or cat is booked to have an X-Ray (radiograph) or CT scan, you may be wondering how the appointment will work and how you can prepare. Below, our Stuart vets share what you can expect when you bring your dog to us for an X-ray.

About Routine Diagnostic Imaging for Dogs & Cats

Computed tomographic imaging, also known as a "CT" or "cat scan" for dogs and cats, works by producing multiple individual images or "slices" throughout a region of interest in the body through the use of radiation (X-Rays) and a computer.  A common comparison to an image produced by a CT scanner is individual slices of bread that make up a complete loaf.  The CT machine produces two-dimensional slices of a section of your pet’s anatomy and then reconfigures them into a complete image we can view.  These slices can also be used to create three-dimensional reconstructions that can be very useful for things like surgical planning. Once the images are produced, they are sent to a veterinary specialist to review and interpret. 

An X-ray is a quick, painless test that produces images of the structures inside your cat's or dog's body, primarily the bones. X-ray rays pass through your body and are absorbed in different amounts depending on the density of the material through which they must pass.

What can a dog or cat C-rays and CT scans help vets diagnose?

X-rays are one of the most helpful, and frequently used tools in both human healthcare and veterinary healthcare. X-rays can help vets to get a view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs so that they can diagnose issues such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and more.

X-ray images can assist veterinarians in detecting tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, which can lead to a diagnosis of heart disease or cancer. X-ray technology cannot provide a detailed view of organs, tissues, or ligaments. Other diagnostic imaging, such as MRI and ultrasound, is more useful in these cases. An X-Ray of a pregnant dog can also help you prepare for the birth of puppies by letting you know how many puppies your dog is expecting and whether a c-section is necessary for any reason.

The high-resolution images produced by the CT machine help us to evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail - a detail that we would otherwise not be able to see using standard X-Rays. CT scanners provide excellent detail of bony and soft tissue structures in the body. 

How can I prepare for my dog or cat's X-ray or CT scan appointment?

When an animal is brought in to see the vet for a problem, X-Rays and CT scans are frequently performed. As a result, there is no need for preparation. Your veterinarian will examine your pet, and if an X-Ray or CT scan is necessary, they will explain the procedure and what they will be looking for.

If you have an X-ray or CT scan that was booked ahead of time for your pet, your vet will provide all instructions you will need for the day of the procedure.

Will my dog or cat be sedated when they have their X-ray or CT scan?

Sedation is sometimes required to get a clear X-Ray. If your dog or cat is calm, not in too much pain, and able to lay in a comfortable position while the X-Ray or CT scan is being taken, sedation will not be necessary.

On the other hand, sedation will be suggested if your dog or cat is jittery, apprehensive, or in pain. Sedation may also be used during your pet's X-Ray or scan if the dog or cat's muscles need to be relaxed in order to obtain a clear image or if the skull, teeth, or spine are being examined using X-Ray technology.

A CT scan is a very safe procedure. Like an X-Ray, CT scans use ionizing radiation, but at doses that are not harmful to pets. Because your pet needs to be still during the CT scan, general anesthesia is required for your pets.

Are X-rays and CT scans safe for dogs and cats?

Although the use of X-Rays and CT scanners is typically thought to be safe for dogs and cats, radiation is involved, so X-Rays and CTs are usually only used occasionally and generally as a diagnostic tool. Although other imaging techniques like ultrasound may be used in that situation, veterinarians occasionally use X-Ray technology to learn more about a dog's pregnancy.

If you're concerned about the use of X-Ray or CT scanner technology and your dog's or cat's health, speak to your vet. Your veterinarian will be able to give you an understanding of the risks versus the benefits in your dog's and cat's particular case so that you can decide whether you want your dog or cat to have an X-Ray or CT scan.

How much will my dog or cat's X-rays or CT scans cost?

The price of your dog's or cat's X-Rays will depend on many different things, such as the size of your pet, the area being X-Rayed, whether sedation was used, the type of clinic, where your veterinary clinic is located, and more. Ask your veterinarian for a price estimate before proceeding if you are worried about the cost of having your cat or dog's X-Rays taken.

CT scans are the same as X-rays, the cost will be different based on what needs to be done to your pet. The entire process of a pet CT scan takes about 45 minutes to an hour, not including anesthesia so the price can change.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes. Animal Care Extraordinaire does not offer CT Scans, but can offer X-Rays.

If you still have questions about diagnostic imaging, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions and we may even to able to provide you with a referral.

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Our Stuart vets can't wait to meet you! Our welcoming and accommodating team is passionate about the needs of your pets. Reach out to us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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