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 Clarksville vets explain what you can expect when you take your dog for an X-ray. 

How do X-rays work? 

An X-ray is a type of electromagnetic energy that is transmitted in waves by photons. An X-ray beam emits energy that is absorbed by your dog's mineralized tissues or hard materials, such as teeth or bones. Some X-rays are absorbed by soft tissues such as the kidneys and liver, while no X-rays are absorbed by air. All X-rays are completely absorbed by lead.

Your dog may need to be repositioned in order to view and capture all of the necessary angles. Taking X-rays usually takes about 10 minutes. The digital X-ray images are immediately available for review by your veterinarian.

When examining solid tissues and regions of the body with differing tissue densities, this useful tool is especially beneficial.

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.

X-rays can help your veterinarian capture two-dimensional images and detect pregnancy, enlarged organs, and some tumors. An X-ray clearly shows the silhouette of a heart, as well as large blood vessels and fluid in the lungs. Many organs in the abdomen can be examined, and any air trapped in the intestines can be detected.

Veterinarians frequently use X-rays to examine bones in the limbs and spine. However, because of the density of soft tissues in ligaments and tendons, joints can be more difficult to see. If your veterinarian takes X-rays of these areas, he or she will most likely look for abnormal swelling in a joint, cavities, or abnormal bone orientation or positioning. The examination may lead to a diagnosis such as cancer or heart disease.

X-ray technology is valuable in many circumstances. However, it cannot help us obtain a detailed view of tissues, ligaments and organs. It may also be more difficult to distinguish between organs if your pet has either very little body fat or is extremely obese.

Since all X-rays are absorbed by the bones in the cranium, it is impossible to see the brain tissue inside the skull during an examination using this method.

We may need other diagnostic imaging tools such as computed tomography (CT scans) to detect structural abnormalities deep within the body, such as abscesses, some tumors, hematomas, occult fractures and vascular changes.

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 frequently perform an X-ray to get a better picture of the problem. As a result, no pre-planning is required. They will, however, take a few minutes to explain the procedure and what they are looking for.

How long will the X-ray take?

X-rays for a dog typically take around 15–30 minutes to complete, depending on the number of images needed and the cooperation of the animal. The process involves positioning the dog correctly and capturing clear images to assist in diagnosing any potential health issues.

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, if your dog is nervous, squirms, or shows signs of pain, the vet will recommend sedation. Sedation may be required if the dog's muscles must be relaxed in order to obtain the clearest image possible, or if the X-ray must capture images of the dog's spine, skull, or teeth.

Are X-rays safe for dogs?

X-rays are typically used only on rare occasions and are primarily used as a diagnostic tool, despite the fact that they are generally considered safe for dogs. Because radiation is involved. Veterinarians occasionally use X-ray technology to gather information about a dog's pregnancy. However, in that case, other imaging techniques, such as ultrasound, may 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

At Overwatch Animal Hospital, our vets use state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tools to diagnose and treat numerous conditions in dogs. Contact our Clarksville clinic to book an appointment for your pup.