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 Stroudsburg 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, for cats and dogs 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.

X-ray images can help veterinarians diagnose conditions such as heart disease or cancer by identifying tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs. However, X-ray technology cannot produce a detailed image of organs, tissues, or ligaments. In these cases, other types of diagnostic imaging, such as MRIs and ultrasounds, are more effective.

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 entails rotating around the patient and capturing 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 may be recommended 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 with an X-ray. Sedation may also 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 have any concerns about the use of X-ray or CT scanner technology and the health of your dog or cat, please consult your veterinarian. They will be able to explain the risks and benefits in your dog's and cat's specific situations.

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 others. If you are concerned about the cost of your cat or dog's X-rays, speak 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 Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital can offer X-rays, we are unable to offer CT Scans at this time.

Contact Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital 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.