Our Vancouver vets use CT scans, X-rays, and other veterinary lab diagnostic technologies to examine your pet's internal structures when they experience known conditions or specific symptoms. In this blog post, our vets will outline what to anticipate during your cat or dog's diagnostic imaging appointments and clarify the purposes of imaging technologies.

CT Scans & X-Rays For Pets

Computed tomographic imaging, commonly known as a "CT" or "cat scan," captures multiple individual images or "slices" throughout a specific body region. Think of it like slicing bread to create a complete loaf. With this machine, your vet can generate a series of 2D 'slices' and assemble them to form a comprehensive 3D view of your cat's structures. This reconstructed image is invaluable for surgical planning or other intensive treatments. Once the images are generated, they're forwarded to a veterinary specialist for analysis.

In contrast, an X-ray is a swift and painless test that provides images of your cat or dog's internal structures, primarily focusing on bones. X-rays penetrate the body, varying absorption levels based on the material's density.

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

X-rays play a crucial role in veterinary diagnostics, providing veterinarians with a clear view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs to diagnose issues like broken bones, bladder stones, and swallowing foreign objects. Detecting tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs is also possible through X-ray images, leading to diagnoses such as heart disease or cancer. However, X-ray technology falls short of providing a detailed view of organs, tissues, and ligaments.

MRI and ultrasounds prove more beneficial for a more comprehensive understanding in such cases. In the case of a pregnant dog, an X-ray can aid in preparing for the birth of puppies by revealing the number of expected puppies and whether a c-section may be necessary.

CT machines produce high-resolution images that allow us to evaluate your pet's anatomy in intricate detail, surpassing the capabilities of standard X-rays. These scans provide exceptional clarity of the body's bony and soft tissue structures.

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

Often, an X-ray and CT scan will be done at the time of concern, which means that you will not need to worry about preparing your pet for the visit.

If you have an X-ray or CT scan booked for your pet, your vet will provide you with all the information needed to ensure that they get the clearest image possible.

Is my pet awake during diagnostic imaging?

Some pets may need sedation for a clear and safe imaging session. If your pet can calmly lie on the table during the appointment, your vet can proceed without sedation.

However, sedation will be advised if your dog or cat is restless, anxious, or in pain. Sedation may also be necessary if your pet's muscles must be relaxed for a clear image or when the X-ray focuses on the skull, teeth, or spine.

A CT scan is a secure procedure. Similar to X-rays, CT scans use ionizing radiation, which is not harmful to pets at the low doses employed.

Is routine diagnostic imaging for dogs and cats safe?

Radiation is involved while using X-rays and CT scanners is generally considered safe for dogs and cats. So, X-rays and CTs are used only occasionally and generally as laboratory diagnostic tools. Sometimes, vets will use X-ray technology to glean information about a dog's pregnancy. Other forms of imaging, however, such as ultrasounds, could be used in that case.

You can contact your vet to express any possible concerns about diagnostic imaging for cats and dogs. They will be able to give you an understanding of the risks versus the benefits in your dog's and cat's particular case.

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

Several factors determine the cost of X-rays for your dog or cat, including your pet's size, the specific area being X-rayed, the use of sedation, the type of clinic, the location of your veterinary clinic, and more. To address concerns about the expenses associated with your pet's X-rays, request a cost estimate from your vet before moving forward.

Similar considerations apply to CAT scans for cats and dogs, with the cost contingent on the specific procedures performed on 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 to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

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