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Diagnostic Imaging For Your Dog Or Cat

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 Beacon vets share what you can expect when you bring your dog to us for an x-ray.

About CT Scans and X-Rays On Cats And Dogs

Computed tomographic imaging, also known as a "CT" or "cat scan" on cats and dogs, 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 and painless test that captures images of your pet's internal structures, particularly bones. X-ray rays pass through your body and are absorbed in different volumes based on the density of the material through which they must pass.

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

X-rays are one of the most useful and widely used diagnostic tools in both human and veterinary healthcare. X-rays can help veterinarians see your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs, allowing them to diagnose problems like broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and more.

X-ray images can assist veterinarians in detecting certain tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, which may lead to a diagnosis of heart disease or cancer. X-rays cannot provide a detailed view of organs, tissues, or ligaments. In these cases, other diagnostic imaging techniques, such as MRI and ultrasound, are more useful. An x-ray of a pregnant dog can also help you prepare for the birth of puppies by indicating 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 allow us to evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail, which we would not be able to see with standard x-rays. CT scanners provide detailed images of bone 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 about a problem, an x-ray and CT scan are frequently performed. Therefore, no preparation is required. Your veterinarian will examine your pet, and if an x-ray or CT is necessary, they will take the time to explain the procedure and what they will look for.

If your pet's X-ray or CT scan has been scheduled ahead of time, your veterinarian will provide you with all of the necessary instructions for the procedure day.

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

Sedation is sometimes necessary to obtain a clear x-ray. Sedation is not required if your dog or cat is calm, not in pain, and can lie down in a comfortable position while the x-ray or CT scan is performed.

However, if your dog or cat is squirmy, agitated, or in pain, sedation will be recommended. Sedation may also be used during your pet's x-ray or scan if the muscles of the dog or cat need to be relaxed in order to obtain a clear image, or if the x-ray is being used on the skull, teeth, or spine.

A CT scan is an extremely safe procedure. CT scans, like x-rays, use ionizing radiation, but in low doses that are safe for pets. Your pet will need general anesthesia because he or she must remain still during the CT scan.

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

While x-rays and CT scanners are generally thought to be safe for dogs and cats, radiation is involved, so they are only used occasionally and as a diagnostic tool. In some cases, veterinarians will use x-ray technology to determine a dog's pregnancy, but other forms of imaging, such as ultrasound, may be used in that case.

If you are concerned about the use of x-ray or CT scanner technology and your dog's or cat's health, consult your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to explain the risks and benefits in your dog's and cat's specific cases, allowing you to decide whether to have an x-ray or CT scan.

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

The cost of x-rays for your dog or cat will be determined by a variety of factors, including your pet's size, the area being x-rayed, whether sedation was used, the type of clinic, and where your veterinary clinic is located, among others. If you're concerned about the cost of x-rays for your cat or dog, ask your veterinarian for an estimate before proceeding.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes. The Beacon Veterinary Associates cannot provide CT scans at this time.

If your dog or cat needs some diagnostic imaging done, feel free to reach out to our Beacon vets. We'll be happy to try and fit you into our schedule.

Welcoming New Patients, Beacon Vet

Now Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at The Beacon Veterinary Associates are now accepting new patients! Our experienced team of veterinary professionals are passionate about giving the cats and dogs of Beacon the health care they need. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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