Radiographs for Dogs
An x-ray, or radiograph, is a type of electromagnetic energy carried in waves by photons. An x-ray beam produces energy that's absorbed by hard materials in your dog's body, such as teeth or bones, or mineralized tissues. While soft tissues such as the kidneys and livers absorb some x-rays, no x-rays are absorbed by air. Lead completely absorbs all x-rays.
What can x-rays help vets diagnose?
Our vets often use x-rays to properly and clearly see your pet's bones, internal organs, and tissues. This helps them diagnose issues such as fractured bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and much more.
X-ray images can help vets to detect enlarged organs, some tumors (which may lead to a diagnosis of cancer or heart disease), and pregnancy. Used in both human healthcare and veterinary healthcare, x-rays are most useful for examining solid tissues, and seeing areas of the body with contrasting tissue densities.
One thing to keep in mind is that we cannot obtain a detailed image of organs, ligaments, and tissues with x-ray technology. In these cases, other diagnostic imaging tools such as ultrasound or MRI machines.
How can I prepare my dog for their x-ray appointment?
A veterinarian will often recommend an x-ray when your dog is brought in for an exam or in an emergency. For this reason, no preparation is needed. Your vet will assess your pet's condition, and take some time to explain what will happen during the x-ray procedure if one is required. He or she will also discuss what types of things they'll be looking for.
How do dogs get x-rays?
If your vet recommends an x-ray, the process itself will unfold as follows: A plastic cassette (which contains a sensor or film) will be placed underneath the desired area. The cassette will also prevent scratches and damage to film. A mechanical arm usually has x-ray equipment at the end, and it's positioned over the area to be examined.
It's important for your dog to remain still during the x-ray. In some instances, they'll need to be sedated. Once prepared, the x-ray will be triggered and images of the area in question will be captured in several grey shades. Dense tissue will appear white.
Once the x-rays have been taken, the film will then be processed and your vet will have an opportunity to review the images. At Riverside Veterinary Hospital's veterinary laboratory, we're able to take x-rays of dogs and cats and process them quickly so your vet can review them. Your vet will then develop a custom treatment plan to meet your dog's needs.
Will my dog be sedated when they have their x-ray?
Dogs sometimes need to be sedated so a clear x-ray can be obtained. If your dog is calm, not in too much pain, and able to lie in a comfortable position while the x-ray is being taken, sedation will not be required.
However, if your dog is squirmy, in pain, or edgy, the vet will likely recommend sedation. Your vet may also suggest sedation during your dog's x-ray if your pup's muscles need to be relaxed to capture a clear image, or if the spine, teeth, or skull will be x-rayed.
Are x-rays safe for dogs?
While x-rays are generally considered safe for dogs, radiation is involved. So, x-rays are typically used only occasionally and generally as a diagnostic tool.
In some instances, veterinarians will use x-ray technology to glean information about a dog's pregnancy; however, other forms of imaging, such as ultrasound, could be used in these cases.
If you're concerned about the use of x-ray technology and your dog's health, speak to your vet. Your veterinarian will be able to give you an understanding of the risks versus the benefits in your dog's particular case so that you can decide whether you want your dog to have an x-ray.
How long do dog x-rays take?
This depends on whether your dog needs multiple x-rays, in which case he or she will need to be repositioned on the viewing table so each of the necessary angles can be viewed and captured. It typically takes about 10 minutes to take x-rays. Your vet can view digital x-ray images instantly. Some x-rays are more complicated than others and require multiple views, which can lengthen the time required to complete the x-rays to several hours.
How much will my dog's x-rays cost?
Several factors will dictate the cost of your dog's x-rays. These include the size of your dog, the area being examined, whether sedation is required, where your veterinary clinic is located, and more. If you are concerned about the cost of your dog’s x-rays, ask your vet for an estimate before proceeding.
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.