Are you bringing your dog or cat in for an X-ray or CT scan? Here's what to expect at our Monterey Park clinic and how to get ready for the appointment.
About CT Scans and X-rays On Dogs
CT scan, or "cat scans", 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. Think of it like looking at individual slices from a loaf of bread. These images can be pieced together for a full view or even turned into 3D visuals. After capturing, a vet specialist examines the images.
An X-ray is a quick, painless test that produces images of the structures inside your cat and/or dog's body, mainly your cat's and/or dog's bones. X-ray rays pass through your body, and they are absorbed in different volumes depending on the density of the material that they have to pass through.
What Can A Dog X-rays And CT Scans Help Vets Diagnose?
X-rays are widely used in both human and animal healthcare. For pets, they allow vets to see bones, tissues, and organs, diagnosing issues like fractures, bladder stones, and ingested objects.
They can also detect some tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, which could indicate conditions like heart disease or cancer. However, x-rays can't provide detailed views of all organs and tissues.
For a more in-depth look, MRIs and ultrasounds are preferred. For instance, an X-ray can reveal the number of puppies a pregnant dog is expecting and if a c-section might be needed.
CT scans offer even more detail than standard X-rays, showcasing both bone and soft tissue with high clarity.
How Can I Prepare For My Dog X-ray Or CT Scan Appointment?
When you bring your pet to the vet, they may do an x-ray or CT scan without any prior preparation. The vet will check your pet and explain any required procedure.
If you've scheduled an X-ray or CT scan in advance, the vet will give you all the necessary instructions for that day.
Will My Dog 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, if your dog or cat is squirmy, edgy, or in pain, sedation will be recommended. Sedation may also be used during your pet's X-ray or scan if the dog's or cat's muscles need to be relaxed to get a clear image or when the X-ray is being used on the skull, teeth, or spine.
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?
While the use of X-rays and CT scanners are generally considered safe for dogs and cats, radiation is involved, so X-rays and CTs are typically used only occasionally and generally as a diagnostic tool. In some cases, vets will use X-ray technology to glean information about a dog's pregnancy; however, other forms of imaging, such as ultrasound, could be used in that case.
If you're worried about your pet undergoing an x-ray or CT scan, discuss it with your vet. They'll explain the pros and cons of your pet's specific situation.
How Much Will My Dog X-rays Or CT Scan Cost?
The cost of your pet's X-rays depends on factors like its size, the area being examined, the use of sedation, the clinic type, and its location, among others. If worried about the expense, request a price estimate from your vet before moving forward.
CT scans, while similar to X-rays, have different costs depending on the procedure. A pet CT scan typically takes 45 minutes to an hour, excluding anesthesia, which can affect the final price.
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.