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X-Rays for Dogs

Your dog has an X-ray (radiograph) coming up. You may be wondering about the process during the appointment and how you can prepare. In this post, our Blountville vets explain what you can expect when you take your dog for an X-ray. 

How do X-rays work? 

X-rays are transmitted in waves by photons, which are a type of electromagnetic energy. Your dog's mineralized tissues or hard materials, such as teeth or bones, absorb the energy emitted by an X-ray beam. Soft tissues like the kidneys and liver absorb some X-rays, whereas air does not absorb any X-rays. Lead completely absorbs all X-rays.

Reposition your dog to ensure you can view and capture all the necessary angles. X-rays typically require approximately 10 minutes to complete. Your veterinarian can review the digital X-ray images right away.

You'll find this handy tool particularly effective for examining solid tissues and identifying areas of the body with varying tissue densities.

What can vets diagnose with X-rays?

Vets frequently use X-rays to examine your pet’s bones, internal organs and tissues so they can diagnose issues such as fractures in bones, foreign objects your pet may have swallowed, bladder stones and more.

Your veterinarian can use X-rays to capture two-dimensional images and identify pregnancy, enlarged organs, and certain tumors. You can easily see the silhouette of a heart, along with the presence of large blood vessels and fluid in the lungs, in an X-ray image. You can examine many organs in the abdomen and detect any trapped air in the intestines.

Veterinarians often use X-rays to examine bones in limbs and the spine. Observing joints can be challenging because of the density of soft tissues in ligaments and tendons. Your veterinarian will be looking for abnormal swelling in a joint, cavities, or abnormal orientation or positioning of bones when taking X-rays of these areas.

A diagnosis such as cancer or heart disease may be determined through the examination.

Many circumstances benefit from the value of X-ray technology. Unfortunately, a detailed view of tissues, ligaments, and organs cannot be obtained with its assistance. Distinguishing between organs can be more challenging when your pet has minimal body fat or is significantly overweight.

X-rays cannot effectively observe the inside of the skull due to the absorption of X-rays by the cranial bones, which hinders the visibility of brain tissue.

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

Ultrasound is better suited for diagnosing conditions like kidney stones, pancreatitis, and abdominal pain or enlarged abdominal organs. This tool is also capable of performing needle biopsies, allowing us to extract cell samples from organs for laboratory testing.

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

When you take your pet to the vet, they usually do an X-ray to get a clearer view of the issue. You don't need to plan ahead. However, they will take a few minutes to explain the procedure and clarify their expectations.

Will my dog be sedated during the X-ray?

Obtaining a clear X-ray requires proper positioning. We sometimes need to sedate animals to ensure their stillness and obedience. If your dog is relaxed, not experiencing excessive discomfort, and able to lie down comfortably, sedation will not be necessary for the doctor to take the picture.

On the other hand, if your dog shows signs of nervous behavior, squirming, or pain, the vet may recommend sedation. Sedation may also be necessary if the clearest image possible is desired for the dog's muscles or if the X-ray needs to capture images of the dog's spine, skull, or teeth.

Are X-rays safe for dogs?

X-rays are not commonly used and are mainly utilized for diagnostic purposes, despite being considered safe for dogs. Radiation is involved. Veterinarians occasionally employ X-ray technology to gather details regarding a dog's pregnancy. However, ultrasound could be utilized in that scenario instead of other imaging techniques.

If you have any concerns about the use of X-ray technology and your dog's health, it's important to speak to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will explain the risks and benefits of getting an X-ray for your dog, helping you make an informed decision.

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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

At Airport Pet Emergency Clinic, our vets use state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tools to diagnose and treat numerous conditions in dogs and cats. Contact our Blountville clinic to book an appointment for your cat or dog.

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Airport Pet Emergency Clinic is open weekday evenings, overnight, weekends and holidays to provide your pet with urgent care when needed. Our experienced Blountville vets are passionate about caring for companion animals.

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Contact (423) 279-0574