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Diagnostic Imaging for Dogs & Cats

Diagnostic imaging capabilities allow your vet to efficiently produce accurate diagnostic information about your pet's condition and provide immediate treatment options. The imaging tool used will vary depending on the condition that is being diagnosed. Our Fort Worth vets talk about the various types of diagnostic imaging for your cat or dog such as CT scans, x-rays, ultrasounds and more.

X-Rays, or Radiography, For Your Dog or Cat

The most common type of diagnostic imaging in medicine is X-ray or radiography. X-rays provide an internal view of your pet's bones, tissues, and organs, allowing them to diagnose issues such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and more. X-ray images can assist veterinarians in detecting certain tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, which may lead to a diagnosis of heart disease or cancer.

X-ray technology can provide an overall view of your pet's dense internal workings, but not a detailed view of its organs, tissues, or ligaments. If a more detailed view is required for diagnosis, your veterinarian will choose other diagnostic imaging, such as MRI and Ultrasound, which will be far more beneficial in these cases.

X-rays are painless, non-invasive, and considered extremely safe for dogs and cats. X-rays, particularly digital X-rays, use extremely low levels of radiation. Because the amount of radiation required to perform radiography is so low, even X-rays of pregnant dogs are safe. Sedation is sometimes necessary to obtain a clear image of your body. Sedation is not required if your dog or cat is calm, not in pain, and can lie in a comfortable position during the X-ray. Some pets are unable to relax during the diagnostic process, so they may be sedated to keep them calm and make things easier for your veterinarian.

Ultrasound Imaging For Your Dog or Cat

Sometimes our cat or dog will eat things they shouldn't, or they will develop conditions like cysts or pregnancy that cannot be seen with a standard x-ray. Ultrasound is a type of imaging technology that sends sound waves into your pet's body to create 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, as well as to monitor their pregnancy.

Ultrasounds allow your veterinarian to examine the structure of your cat's or dog's organs in order to detect and diagnose blockages, tumors, and other issues.

Depending on the type of ultrasound your pet will receive and where on the body your vet will examine, different methods of preparation will be required. Speak with your veterinarian to learn how to prepare your pet for their ultrasound. You may be required to fast for 8 to 12 hours before an abdominal ultrasound. The urinary bladder is best examined when it is full of urine. This is why your cat or dog should avoid urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.

Your veterinarian will most likely shave the area on your cat or dog where they will perform the ultrasound. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some may require sedation if they are anxious or difficult to control.

PET/CT Scans For Your Dog or Cat

Computed Tomography - Cat Scans for Cats & Dogs

The CT machine's high-resolution images allow your veterinary team to evaluate your pet's anatomy in far greater detail than the X-ray machine can provide.

CT scanners provide your veterinarian with an extremely detailed view of your cat or dog's skeletal structure as well as its soft tissues. CT scans are most commonly used to produce images of the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones/joints, and chest/lungs. We can also use the CT machine to examine lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull/brain, and vascular structures.

Positron Emission Tomography - PET Scans for Dogs & Cats

A CT scan, combined with the administration of a contrast agent intravenously (IV), allows veterinarians to detect increased areas of blood flow in your pet's body. PET scans help detect cancer and areas of inflammation. PET scans in humans provide doctors with a detailed picture of how the patient's tissues and organs function. The most common use of PET scans is to diagnose specific types of cancer.

CT & PET Scan Process

CT and PET scans have one thing in common: your pet must remain still throughout the procedure. Because of this, general anesthesia is frequently used to put your pet to sleep while your veterinarian performs the imaging.Your pet's vital signs are closely monitored while under anesthesia throughout the CT/PET procedure. A CT/PET scan is typically completed in a relatively short period of time. Once the scan is completed, the images are typically interpreted by a specialist, and a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations is sent to the veterinarian who is treating your pet.

MRI - Veterinary Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Dogs & Cats

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been available to help diagnose human health issues since the early 1980s, but it has only recently begun to be considered as part of routine diagnostic imaging for cats and dogs.

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

If your dog or cat exhibits symptoms such as limping, lameness, seizures, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, or paralysis, an MRI may be recommended to help diagnose the underlying cause. 

An MRI for a dog or cat typically takes 45 minutes to complete. For an MRI to be successful, the patient must remain completely still. To ensure the success of your pet's MRI, a general anesthetic will be administered prior to the scan. Blood tests and X-rays are typically recommended by veterinarians prior to the MRI to ensure that your pet is strong enough to undergo general anesthesia.

Diagnostic Imaging For Your Dog or Cat at Harris Parkway Animal Hospital

Our Fort Worth veterinarians are pleased to provide advanced veterinary diagnostics, including X-rays and ultrasound. 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 the advanced veterinary care and diagnostic imaging at Harris Parkway Animal Hospital.

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide CT scans or MRIs at this time.

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 Fort Worth vets to schedule a visit.

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

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