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Diagnostic Imaging For Your Dog or Cat

Our Corpus Christi vets use diagnostic imaging to help us pinpoint the cause, extent, or seriousness of your pet's illness or injury. Depending on your pet's condition, the type of diagnostic imaging used will vary. This article goes over the tests that your vet may recommend to help diagnose or treat your dog or cat.

Radiography - X-Rays for Dogs & Cats

For vets, X-rays are one of the most helpful and frequently used tools because they help your vet see your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs. Since vets can see inside an animal's body, they can diagnose problems such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and more. X-ray images can help vets spot some tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs which may lead to a diagnosis such as heart disease or cancer.

Not all diagnostic imaging can be done by X-rays. This is because X-rays do not provide a detailed view of your pet's organs, tissues, or ligaments using X-ray technology. MRIs and Ultrasounds are other diagnostic imaging tools used by vets. 

Your pet will be safe during an X-ray because they are painless, non-invasive, and use very low doses of radiation. Since the level of radiation exposure is low, even X-rays for pregnant dogs are safe.

Sedation is sometimes required to get a clear image of your body. If your dog or cat is calm, not in too much pain, and able to lay in a comfortable position while the X-ray is being taken, sedation will not be necessary. That said, if your pet is unsettled, anxious, or in pain, sedation may be necessary.

Ultrasound Imaging for Pets

If your cats or dogs develop cysts or tumors, they can require treatment. To identify a safe way of removal, ultrasounds are used. Ultrasounds are a form of imaging technology that sends sound waves into your pet’s body to produce a 'picture' of a specific body part. Veterinary ultrasounds are non-invasive and can be used to diagnose or evaluate problems with your pet's internal organs or check on your pet's pregnancy.

Vets use ultrasounds to examine the structure of your pet’s organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors, or other problems.

Speak with your vet to learn how to prepare your dog or cat for an ultrasound. You may be required to withhold food and water for between 8 - 12 hours, particularly for abdominal ultrasounds. We can best examine the urinary bladder when it is full of urine. This is why your cat or dog should not urinate for about three to six hours before the ultrasound, if possible.

The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated.

PET/CT Scan for Pets

Computed Tomography - CT Scans for Dogs & Cats

Images produced by the CT machine are high resolution and help vets evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail which would be impossible to achieve with standard X-rays. 

Cat scans for cats and dogs can provide an outstanding image of your pet's bony and soft tissue structures. CT technology is most commonly used to generate images of the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones/joints, and the chest/lungs. We can also use the CT machine to assess lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull/brain, and vascular structures.

Positron Emission Tomography - PET Scans for Dogs & Cats

Diagnostic imaging can be used to find out whether or not your pet has inflammation or cancer. A CT scan combined with the use of a contrast agent given to your pet intravenously (IV), allows vets to see increased areas of blood flow in the animal's body. PET scans aid in the detection of cancer and areas of inflammation. In humans, PET scans are used to give doctors a detailed view of how the patient's tissues and organs are working. PET scans are most commonly used to detect and monitor cancer.

CT & PET Scan Process

Your pets need to be still during CT and PET scans. To help your pet stay still, your vet will use general anesthesia to perform these diagnostic imaging tests. Your pet's vital signs will be closely monitored under anesthesia throughout the entire CT/PET process. In most cases, a CT/PET scan only takes a short time. Once the scan is complete the images will typically be interpreted by a specialist 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

MRI is the short form for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This resource has been diagnosing human health concerns since the early 1980s. It is only recently that veterinary MRIs have become more widely used.

MRI scans can provide detailed images of your pet's soft tissues including the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs. For many types of soft tissue injuries or diseases, the use of veterinary MRIs can provide a more detailed image of your pet's body than other diagnostic imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans.

If your dog or cat is exhibiting symptoms such as limping, lameness, seizures, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, or paralysis, an MRI might be recommended to help diagnose the cause of your pet's symptoms. 

Dog and cat MRIs take between 45 minutes to an hour to perform. For an MRI to be successful the patient needs to remain still. To ensure that your pet's MRI is successful, a general anesthetic will be administered to your dog or cat before their scan MRI scan. Vets typically recommend blood tests and X-rays be done before the MRI to help ensure that your pet is strong enough to be put under general anesthetic.

Routine Diagnostic Imaging For Dogs & Cats

Our Corpus Christi board-certified specialists and emergency vets are pleased to provide advanced veterinary diagnostics including CT scans and ultrasounds. These diagnostic tools to allow us to provide you (or your primary care vet) with an accurate diagnosis of your pets’ medical issues. Contact us to learn more about advanced veterinary care and diagnostic imaging at Everhart 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.

Contact Everhart Animal Hospital if your dog or cat needs an X-ray. Our vets help uncover issues and restore the good health of Corpus Christi pets.

New Patients Welcome

Everhart Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Corpus Christi companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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