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 Los Angeles 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

Using radiation (x-rays) and a computer, computed tomographic imaging, also known as a "CT" or "cat scan" for cats and dogs, creates numerous individual images or "slices" throughout a region of interest in the body. An image generated by a CT scanner is frequently compared to the individual slices of bread that make up a full loaf. The CT scanner creates two-dimensional slices of a portion of your pet's anatomy, which are then assembled into a full image that can be seen by you. For purposes like surgical planning, these slices can also be used to create three-dimensional reconstructions. A veterinary expert receives the images after they have been created and reviews and interprets them.

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 dog or cat X-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, swallowing foreign objects, and more.

X-ray images can help veterinarians spot certain tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs that could aid in the diagnosis of diseases like cancer or heart disease. X-ray technology cannot provide a detailed view of any organ, tissue, or ligament. These circumstances call for the use of other diagnostic imaging techniques like MRI and ultrasound. By revealing how many puppies your dog is carrying and whether a c-section might be required, an X-ray of a pregnant dog can also assist you in preparing for the birth of the puppies.

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 taken to the vet to have a problem examined, an x-ray and a CT scan are frequently performed. Because of this, there is no need for preparation. Your veterinarian will first examine your pet, and if a CT or x-ray is necessary, they will take some time to go over the process 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.

Sedation, on the other hand, will be recommended if your dog or cat is agitated, fearful, or in pain. 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, sedation may be used during the x-ray or scan.

It is very safe to perform a CT scan. CT scans use ionizing radiation, similar to an X-ray, but at doses that are safe for animals. Your pet will need general anesthesia because they 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 considered safe for dogs and cats, radiation is involved, so X-rays and CT scanners are typically used only infrequently and as diagnostic tools. In some cases, veterinarians will use X-ray technology to determine a dog's pregnancy; however, other forms of imaging, such as ultrasound, may be used in that case.

Speak with your veterinarian if you are concerned about the use of X-ray or CT scanner technology and the health of your dog or cat. Your veterinarian will be able to explain the risks and benefits in your dog's or cat's specific case, allowing you to 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 scan cost?

The cost of your dog's or cat's x-rays will be determined by a number of factors, including your pet's size, the area being x-rayed, whether sedation was used, the type of clinic, the location of your veterinary clinic, and more. Consult your veterinarian first if you are concerned about the cost of x-rays for your cat or dog.

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 and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

At Rancho Park Veterinary Clinic, we are equipped with the diagnostic imaging technology we need to provide you with a fast and accurate diagnosis of your dog's issue. Contact us today to learn more.