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Diagnostic imaging for your dog or cat: CT Scans, X-Rays and More

Our diagnostic imaging allows vets to assess your pet's condition quickly and recommend immediate treatment options. The choice of imaging tool varies based on the specific condition. In Apple Valley, our veterinarians offer your cat or dog CT scans, x-rays, ultrasounds, and more.

X-rays or Radiography For Your Dog or Cat

The most frequently used diagnostic imaging method in medicine is X-ray or Radiography. X-rays provide an internal view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs, enabling the diagnosis of issues such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and more. Additionally, X-ray images assist veterinarians in detecting certain tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, potentially leading to diagnoses like heart disease or cancer.

X-ray technology offers an overall perspective of your pet's dense internal structures but does not offer detailed views of their organs, tissues, or ligaments. If a more precise diagnosis is required, your vet will choose alternative diagnostic imaging techniques like MRI and Ultrasound, which prove more advantageous in such cases.

X-rays are painless, non-invasive, and considered highly safe for dogs and cats. Particularly, digital X-rays employ extremely low radiation doses. Due to the minimal radiation exposure necessary for radiography, even X-rays of pregnant dogs are safe. Sedation may occasionally be needed to obtain clear images of your pet's body. Sedation becomes unnecessary if your dog or cat remains calm, experiences manageable discomfort, and can assume a comfortable position during the X-ray. However, some pets may struggle to relax during the diagnostic process, prompting the use of sedation to maintain their composure and facilitate the vet's work.

Ultrasound Imaging For Your Dog or Cat

Sometimes, cats or dogs ingest inappropriate objects or develop conditions like cysts or pregnancy that cannot be detected through standard X-rays. Ultrasounds represent a non-invasive imaging technology that sends sound waves into your pet's body to create a precise visual representation of specific body parts. They enable veterinarians to diagnose internal organ issues and detect blockages, tumors, and other problems.

Ultrasounds allow vets to scrutinize your pet's organ structure and identify potential issues. The type of ultrasound and the specific body area under examination determine the preparation requirements, which your vet will clarify. For abdominal ultrasounds, fasting your pet from food and water for 8 to 12 hours may be necessary. A full bladder is optimal for assessing the urinary bladder, so try to prevent your cat or dog from urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound.

In most cases, your vet must shave the area to be examined with ultrasound. While many pets cooperate during the procedure, some anxious or uncontrollable animals may require sedation.

PET/CT Scans For Your Dog or Cat

Computed Tomography - CT Scans for Dogs & Cats

The CT machine produces high-resolution images that enable your veterinary team to thoroughly assess your pet's anatomy, surpassing the capabilities of the X-ray machine.

CT scanners offer an exceptionally detailed view of your cat or dog's skeletal structure and provide clear imaging of soft tissues. They are commonly employed to generate images of the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones, joints, chest, and lungs.

The CT machine can also evaluate lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull and brain, and vascular structures.

Positron Emission Tomography - PET Scans for Dogs & Cats

A CT scan, when coupled with intravenous (IV) administration of a contrast agent to your pet, enables veterinarians to observe enhanced blood flow areas in the animal's body. PET scans assist in identifying cancer and inflammation regions. In human medicine, doctors rely on PET scans to understand the functionality of the patient's tissues and organs. The primary application of PET scans is the diagnosis of specific cancer types.

CT & PET Scan Process

One thing that the CT and PET scans have in common is that your pet will need to stay still for the entirety of the procedure. Because of this, general anesthesia is commonly used to put your pet to sleep while your vet performs the imaging. Your pet's vital signs are closely monitored during anesthesia throughout the entire CT/PET process. In most cases, a CT/PET scan is completed in a fairly short amount of time. Once the scan is complete, a specialist will typically interpret the images, and a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations will be sent to the vet handling your pet's treatment.

MRI - Veterinary Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Dogs & Cats

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been available for diagnosing human health concerns since the early 1980s. Recently, it has gained recognition as a routine diagnostic imaging tool for cats and dogs.

MRI scans offer high-resolution, detailed images of your pet's soft tissues, including the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs. In many cases of soft tissue injuries or diseases, veterinary MRIs provide more detailed images than other diagnostic tools like X-rays or CT Scans.

If your dog or cat displays symptoms such as limping, lameness, seizures, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, or paralysis, your veterinarian may recommend an MRI to diagnose the underlying cause.

An MRI for a dog or cat typically lasts about 45 minutes, during which the patient must remain completely still. To ensure the success of the MRI, your veterinarian will administer a general anesthetic to your pet before the scan. It's usually advised to conduct blood tests and X-rays beforehand to confirm your pet's suitability for general anesthesia.

Diagnostic Imaging For Your Dog or Cat at Apple Valley Animal Hospital

Our Apple Valley board-certified specialists and emergency vets are pleased to provide in-house veterinary diagnostics, including CT scans and ultrasounds. These diagnostic tools allow us to provide you (or your primary care vet) with an accurate diagnosis of your pet's medical issues. Contact us to learn more about veterinary care and diagnostic imaging at Apple Valley Animal Hospital.

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 cat or dog might require the use of diagnostic imaging for diagnosis, please contact our Apple Valley vets to schedule a visit.

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