Canine diagnostic imaging provides your veterinarian with a clear picture of what may be abnormal inside your dog’s body and typically involves a radiograph (x-ray), ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. These diagnostic tools are vital in providing a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan for the clinical signs your dog may be experiencing. 

If you are located near San Mateo, CA, we are here to answer your questions and provide any diagnostic testing your dog may need. Please feel free to reach out to us at 650-535-3557.

How does diagnostic imaging help diagnose my pet?

Diagnostic imaging helps us see what is happening inside your dog when they are exhibiting certain clinical signs. At North Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic, we look for things that are abnormal or out of place. Diagnostic imaging is a safe and noninvasive way for us to look evaluate the internal organs and structures of your dog with minimal discomfort.

What are the different types of diagnostic imaging?

The primary diagnostic imaging technologies we use at North Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic are radiographs and ultrasound. If something more involved is needed to further diagnose your pet, such as a CT scan or MRI, we will send your dog to a specialty hospital where that equipment is readily available. The type of diagnostic imaging used is based on what your veterinarian is trying to diagnose.

Dog diagnostic imaging includes:

  • Radiographs (x-rays) for dogs – To view bones and indications of skeletal abnormalities, evaluate the heart, lungs and other thoracic (chest) structures, large organs of the abdomen, and look for air or fluid in any of the cavities hat is abnormal. 
  • Dog Ultrasound – For looking at soft tissue issues
  • Dog MRI and CT scans – To evaluate the soft tissue structures that are encased in bone, such as the brain

What does a veterinary radiologist do?

A veterinary radiologist has received additional education following veterinary school to become board certified and specializes in all forms of diagnostic imaging, interprets the images and then, usually, provides a definitive diagnosis. Your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary radiologist at a specialty hospital if the suspected diagnosis requires a CT scan or MRI, or perhaps for a second opinion. 

The American College of Veterinary Radiology offers more insight into when your dog might need a veterinary radiologist and the various specialties.

What are some of the problems that diagnostic imaging evaluates?

Diagnostic imaging serves many purposes. We use it for a closer look at areas that may help explain the symptoms your dog is presenting. While radiographs are helpful, ultrasound is more sensitive and specific, for conditions that we cannot detect with a radiograph.

Dog diagnostic imaging looks for:

  • Heart and lung abnormalities
  • Tumors on organs
  • Foreign objects in the intestinal tract
  • Disease or masses inside the organs

Is diagnostic imaging safe for my dog?

Diagnostic imaging is completely safe for your dog. Since veterinarians do radiographs so infrequently on a dog during their lifetime, the level of radiation exposure is minimal and therefore very safe. Ultrasound imaging is also safe and is the same technology used for imaging babies in the womb. Diagnostic imaging is an effective way to learn more about what’s going on inside your pet without an invasive procedure. 

Will my dog need to be sedated for diagnostic imaging?

In most situations, your dog will be awake for a radiograph, although scenarios do exist where sedation might be helpful, such as when a specific view is needed that might cause discomfort. For example, if your veterinarian needs radiographs when hip dysplasia is suspected, manipulating your dog’s limbs works best under anesthesia. The need for sedation or anesthesia to take radiographs will depend on your dog’s temperament. For more advanced imaging such as a CT scan or MRI, which requires a large machine and your dog sitting perfectly still, sedation is needed. 

If you have further questions about dog diagnostic imaging, reach out to your veterinarian. If you live in or near San Mateo, CA, we’d love to see your dog for any imaging needs, so please don’t hesitate to call us at 650-535-3557.