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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 Turlock vets share what you can expect when you bring your dog for diagnostic imaging.

About CT Scans & X-rays on Cats & Dogs

Computed tomographic imaging, also known as a CT or cat scan, works by producing multiple individual images or 'slices' throughout a region of interest in the body. 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 configures them into a complete image. 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 procedure that generates images of the internal organs in your dog or cat's body. primarily the bones of your dog or cat. X-rays penetrate the body and are absorbed in various amounts based on the density of the material they must traverse.

What can dog or cat X-rays & 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, swallowing foreign objects, and more.

Veterinarians can diagnose conditions like heart disease or cancer using X-ray images to identify certain tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs. However, X-ray technology is unable to provide a detailed image of organs, tissues, or ligaments. In these situations, other types of diagnostic imaging, like MRIs and ultrasounds, are more useful.

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

Often, an X-ray and CT scan are done when the animal is brought in to have an issue looked at by the vet. For that reason, no preparation is required.

If you have scheduled an X-ray or CT scan for your pet, your veterinarian will provide you with all of the necessary information on the day of the procedure.

What is the process for X-raying and CT scanning a dog or cat?

To X-ray a dog or cat, veterinarians typically place the animal on a specialized table and use a machine to emit low levels of radiation through the body. The X-ray images produced allow vets to visualize bones, organs, and tissues for diagnostic purposes. 

A CT scan involves rotating around the patient and taking multiple images from various angles to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the animal's body.

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

Sedation may be required to obtain a clear X-ray. Sedation will not be required if your dog or cat is at ease, not in pain, and can lie comfortably still during the X-ray or CT scan.

However, sedation will be suggested if your dog or cat is jittery, anxious, or in pain. The muscles of the dog or cat must be relaxed in order to obtain a clear image, or if the skull, teeth, or spine are being examined using an X-ray, which are other scenarios in which sedation may be used during your pet's X-ray or scan.

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

While X-rays and CT scanners are generally thought to be safe for dogs and cats, radiation is involved. As a result, X-rays and CT scans are typically used as diagnostic tools only on occasion. In some cases, veterinarians will use X-ray technology to determine a dog's pregnancy. However, other types of imaging, such as ultrasounds, could be used in that situation.

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. They will be able to explain the risks and benefits in your dog's and cat's individual cases.

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

The cost of your dog's or cat's X-rays will be determined by a variety of factors, including the size of your pet, the area being X-rayed, whether sedation was used, the type of clinic, the location of your veterinary clinic, and more. If you are concerned about the cost of your cat or dog's X-rays, consult with your veterinarian before proceeding.

The CT scans are the same. The cost will vary depending on what needs to be done for your pet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes. While Taylor Veterinary Emergency can offer X-rays, we are unable to offer CT Scans at this time.

Contact Taylor Veterinary Emergency if you're looking for a veterinary clinic with the diagnostic imaging technology you need to provide you with a fast and accurate diagnosis of your pet's issue.

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Taylor Veterinary Emergency is accepting new patients! Our experienced Turlock vets are passionate about the health of cats and dogs. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

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