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CT Scans & X-Rays for Dogs & Cats

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 Brooklyn 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 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, 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 is the process for X-raying or CT scanning a pet?

X-raying and CT scanning pets involves first sedating the animal to keep them still during the procedure. The pet is then placed on a table and positioned appropriately for the X-ray or CT scan to be taken. The technician will operate the machine from a separate room to minimize radiation exposure.

For X-rays, a small dose of radiation is emitted through the pet's body, creating an image on a film or digital screen. For CT scans, multiple X-ray images are taken from different angles and compiled by a computer to create detailed cross-sectional images of the pet's internal structures. Both procedures are non-invasive and typically only take a few minutes to complete.

Will my pet need to be sedated?

For a clear X-ray, sedation may occasionally be necessary. Sedation won't be necessary if your dog or cat is at ease, not in too much discomfort, and able to lay 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 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.

A CT scan is a very safe procedure. Like an X-ray, CT scans use ionizing radiation, but at doses that are not harmful to pets.

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. By letting you know how many puppies your dog is carrying and whether a C-section might be necessary for any reason, an X-ray of a pregnant dog can also help you get ready for the birth of puppies.

With the help of the CT scanner's high-resolution images, we are able to examine your pet's anatomy in great detail, which is something that is otherwise impossible with traditional X-rays. Bony and soft tissue structures in the body are beautifully detailed by CT scanners.

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 your pet have an X-ray or CT scan that was booked ahead of time, your vet will provide all instructions you will need for the day of the procedure.

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.

Speak with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the use of X-ray or CT scanner technology and the health of your dog or cat. They will be able to explain the risks versus the benefits in your dog's and cat's specific case.

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.

CT scans are the same. The cost will be different based on what needs to be done to your pet.

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.

Contact our Brooklyn vets who are equipped 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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Heart of Brooklyn Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Brooklyn companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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