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What to Expect When You Take Your Dog For an X-Ray

If you are taking your dog for an X-ray (radiograph), you may be curious about how the appointment will proceed and what you can do to prepare. Our vets in Denver explain what can be expected. 

How do X-rays work? 

X-rays are a type of electromagnetic energy carried by photons in waves. When an X-ray beam is directed toward your dog's body, it produces energy that is absorbed by hard materials or mineralized tissues such as bones and teeth. Some soft tissues like the liver and kidneys also absorb some X-rays, while air absorbs none. However, lead can completely absorb all X-rays. 

During an x-ray, your dog may need to be repositioned to capture all necessary angles. The procedure usually takes around 10 minutes, and the digital x-ray images are immediately available for your vet to review. 

X-rays are most helpful in examining solid tissues and detecting areas of the body with contrasting tissue densities. They are an invaluable diagnostic tool in veterinary medicine.

What can X-rays help vets diagnose?

X-rays are a common diagnostic tool used in both human healthcare and veterinary healthcare. They provide vets with a view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs, helping them diagnose issues such as broken bones, bladder stones, and swallowing foreign objects. X-ray images can also help vets detect tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, which may lead to a diagnosis of heart disease or cancer.

However, it's important to note that X-rays cannot provide a detailed view of organs, tissues, and ligaments. Other veterinary diagnostic imaging techniques, such as MRI and Ultrasound, are more beneficial in such cases.

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

Often, an X-ray is done when the pet is brought in to have an issue looked at by the vet. For that reason, no preparation is required. Your vet will examine your pup. Then, if an X-ray is required, they will take some time to explain the procedure and what they are looking for.

Will my dog be sedated when they have their X-ray?

Sedation is sometimes required to get a clear X-ray. If your dog is calm, not in too much pain, and can lay comfortably while the X-ray is being taken, sedation may not be necessary.

On the other hand, if your dog is squirmy, edgy, or in pain, sedation will be recommended. Sedation may also be used during your pup's X-ray if the dog's muscles need to be relaxed to get a clear image, or when the X-ray is of the skull, teeth or spine.

Are X-rays safe for dogs?

X-rays are generally considered safe for dogs but involve radiation, so they are used only occasionally and mainly as a diagnostic tool. In some cases, veterinarians may use X-ray technology to gather information about a dog's pregnancy, but ultrasound imaging could be used instead.

If you have concerns about the use of X-ray technology and your dog's health, you should speak to your vet. Your veterinarian can provide you with an understanding of the risks and benefits in your dog's specific case so that you can decide whether your dog should have an X-ray.

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

Various factors can affect the cost of X-rays for your dog. These can include the size of your pet, the specific area of the body being X-rayed, whether sedation was used during the procedure, the type of veterinary clinic you choose, and your location. In case you are worried about the cost of your pup's X-rays, it is advisable to ask your vet for an estimate before proceeding with the procedure.

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.

If your pet requires immediate medical attention, please visit our 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic. Contact our veterinarians in Denver for urgent care.

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