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What to Know About X-Rays for Dogs

Does your dog have an upcoming X-ray (radiograph) appointment? You may wonder how X-rays for dogs work and how you can prepare. Here, our Leighton vets describe what you can expect when you take your dog for an X-ray. 

How do X-rays work? 

An X-ray is safe, painless diagnostic tool that allows your veterinarian to evaluate your dog's internal structures.

Also referred to as radiographs, an X-ray is generated by allowing radiation to pass through the body and interact with a digital sensor to create an image of bones, teeth, organs, or other soft tissues such as the liver and kidneys. No X-rays are absorbed by air. However, all X-rays are completely absorbed by lead. 

Your dog may need to be repositioned so the necessary angle can be viewed and captured by the X-ray machine. This entire procedure takes about 10 minutes, and the digital X-ray images will be available for your veterinarian to review immediately. 

What can vets diagnose with x-rays? 

X-rays are frequently used to examine a dog's bones, internal tissues, and organs so a veterinarian can diagnose issues such as bone fractures, identify whether your pet has swallowed a foreign object, determine whether a bladder stone is present, and more. 

These two-dimensional images can detect enlarged organs, pregnancy, and some tumors. An X-ray can reveal the silhouette of a heart along with large blood vessels and fluid in the lungs. Many organs contained in the abdomen can be examined, and your vet can tell whether the intestines may have air trapped in them. 

X-rays are also frequently used by veterinarians to examine bones in the spine and limbs. However, joints may be more difficult to observe due to the density of soft tissues in tendons and ligaments. If X-rays of these areas are taken, your veterinarian is likely trying to determine whether there are cavities, abnormal swelling in a joint, or whether bones may be positioned abnormally. 

The inside of the skull cannot be properly observed with an X-ray because the bones in the cranium absorb all X-rays, so we're unable to see brain tissue. 

Other diagnostic imaging tools and techniques such as computed tomography (CT scans) may be used to detect structural abnormalities deep within the body. These include hematomas, abscesses, tumors, vascular changes, and occult fractures. 

Ultrasound is more appropriate for diagnosing conditions such as kidney stones, pancreatitis, and abdominal pain or enlarged abdominal organs. We can also use this tool to perform needle biopsies when we need to extract a cell sample from organs to be tested in the lab.

How can I prepare my dog for their X-ray appointment?

When you bring your pet to the vet, he or she will often perform an X-ray to get a better look at the problem. As a result, no prior planning is required. They will, however, spend a few minutes explaining the procedure and what they are looking for.

Will my dog be sedated during the X-ray?

Positioning is essential for obtaining a clear X-ray. Animals must occasionally be sedated to keep them still and obedient. Sedation won't be required if your dog is at ease, not in too much discomfort, and capable of lying down comfortably while the doctor takes the picture.

In contrast, the vet will advise sedation if your dog exhibits nervous behavior, squirms, or displays signs of pain. If the dog's muscles need to be relaxed in order to get the clearest image possible or if the X-ray needs to take images of the dog's spine, skull, or teeth, sedation may also be necessary.

Are X-rays safe for dogs?

X-rays are typically only used occasionally and are primarily used as a diagnostic tool, even though the use of X-rays is generally thought to be safe for dogs. Because radiation is involved. Veterinarians occasionally employ X-ray technology to gather details regarding a dog's pregnancy. But in that situation, other imaging techniques, like ultrasound, might be used.

Speak to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the use of X-ray technology and your dog's health. To help you decide whether you want your dog to have an X-ray, your veterinarian will be able to explain the risks versus the benefits in the specific circumstances of your dog.

How much will my dog's X-rays cost?

The price of your dog's X-rays will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of your pet, the area being X-rayed, whether sedation was used, the type of clinic, where your veterinary clinic is located, and more. A vet's estimate is something you should get before proceeding if you are worried about the price of your dog's X-rays.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Our veterinarians at All Animal Clinic use advanced diagnostic testing tools to diagnose and treat many conditions in dogs and cats. Contact our Leighton vets today to book an appointment for your cat or dog.

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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