Diagnostic Imaging for Your Dog or Cat

Our veterinarians use CT scans, X-rays, or other methods when your pet has a known condition or specific symptoms. This helps them see inside your pet's body more clearly. Our vets in Seattle discuss what to anticipate during your cat or dog's imaging appointments and how techniques like X-rays and CT scans are used.

CT Scans & X-Rays For Pets

A CT scan, also known as a "cat scan," creates a bunch of detailed pictures within a specific area of your pet's body. It's like taking many slices of bread to form a whole loaf. Imagine these slices coming together to give a 3D view of your cat's body. This helps the vet see everything clearly, which is useful for planning surgeries or treatments. After making these images, a specialist examines them to understand what's going on.

An X-ray is a painless test that shows pictures of your pet's insides, especially their bones. These rays pass through the body, and how much they're absorbed tells us about the stuff they go through. It's a straightforward way to see what's happening inside your cat or dog.

What is the purpose of routine diagnostic imaging for dogs and cats?

X-rays are commonly used in veterinary care to help vets see your pet's bones, organs, and tissues. This helps them diagnose issues like broken bones, bladder stones, and swallowed objects.

These X-ray images can also reveal tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs. This can lead to diagnoses like heart disease or cancer. However, other methods like MRI and ultrasounds are more useful for detailed views of organs, tissues, and ligaments.

If your dog is pregnant, an X-ray can tell you how many puppies to expect and if a c-section might be needed.

CT scans produce highly detailed images that go beyond regular X-rays. They're especially good for seeing bone and soft tissue structures in the body.

Do you need to prepare for X-rays or cat scans for cats and dogs?

Sometimes, when your pet needs medical attention, both an X-ray and a CT scan are performed together. This means you won't have to stress about preparing your pet for the visit. If you've scheduled an X-ray or CT scan in advance for your pet, your vet will give you all the necessary details to make sure they get the best possible image.

Is my pet awake during diagnostic imaging?

Some pets may require sedation in order to be able to get a clear image safely. If your pet is able to quietly and comfortably lay on the table to the imaging appointment, then your vet may proceed without sedation.

On the other hand, if your dog or cat is squirmy, edgy, or in pain, sedation will be recommended. Other reasons why sedation may be used during your pet's X-ray or scan include 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, which is not harmful to pets at the low doses at which they are used.

Is routine diagnostic imaging for dogs and cats safe?

X-rays and CT scans are generally safe for dogs and cats, but they do involve radiation. These scans are used occasionally as diagnostic tools. Sometimes, vets use X-rays to learn about a dog's pregnancy. Ultrasounds are another imaging option in such cases.

If you're worried about these scans for your pets, talk to your vet. They can explain the risks and benefits based on your pet's situation.

What is the cost of CT scans or X-rays for cats and dogs?

The cost of X-rays for your dog or cat depends on various factors, including the pet's size, the specific area being X-rayed, whether sedation was used, and the type and location of the clinic. If you're worried about the expenses, it's a good idea to ask your vet for a cost estimate before moving forward.

This applies similarly to cat scans for your pets; the total cost is determined by the specific procedures performed.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

If your pet has been scheduled for diagnostic imaging and you would like to learn more, please contact our Seattle vets.