“How much does a dog x-ray cost?” is a question that many dog owners may wonder about, but there is no precise answer to this question since dog x-rays costs tend to vary based on several factors. For instance, consider that dog x-ray costs may be significantly higher if the dog requires sedation or multiple views to best assess the area. Then, there are other factors such as the body area that needs to be x-rayed, location, (some areas having higher veterinary costs) and whether the dog has pet insurance. It is therefore difficult to precisely answer the question: “how much does a dog x-ray cost?” because there are several variables, but it is possible to provide some rough estimates.
So How Much Does a Dog X-Ray Cost?
A dog’s x-ray may cost anywhere between $ 65 and $75 for just a single large x-ray. Many times, additional films may be needed, and these are usually about roughly half the price. Therefore, dog owners may expect to pay for two-view x-rays anywhere around $ 97 and 112. Of course, costs add up the more views are needed.
Whether a single view or multiple views are needed often depends on the location for the x-rays and the purpose. For example, two views may turn helpful when certain body parts are difficult to see clearly because different structures of the body may be superimposed on one another when they are of the same density. A second view taken from a different angle can therefore help better visualize the area.
In some cases, even three or more views may be needed to attain a more three dimensional picture of what’s going on inside. For example, 3-view chest x-rays for dogs are ideal for diagnostic purposes because three views allow better evaluation of the dog’s lungs and heart.
Three view x-rays mean that the x-rays are taken with the dog in three different positions: one with the dog lying on the right side, one with the dog lying on the back (ventrodorsal) and one with the dog lying on the left side.
Not all dog owners can afford paying for three dog x-rays, so sometimes the vet will take only two, although three would be ideal, when financially possible.
On top of how many x-ray views are required, dog owners must also factor in the cost of the office visit. Generally regular veterinary visits cost anywhere between $45 to $85. Seeing a specialist may cost even more with many consultations ranging between $125 to $200. Emergency vet visits may also significantly increase costs.
Adding Sedation to a Dog’s X-Ray Costs
To more accurately answer the question of “how much does a dog x-ray cost?” it’s important to consider whether the dog may require sedation or general anesthesia. The use of sedation or anesthesia can significantly cause the price to go further up; however, in many cases, dogs are able to stay awake as long as they aren’t in pain, aggressive or fractious.
Taking dog x-rays require that the dog be collaborative in staying still (for a short amount of time) considering that movements may cause blurred images. Blurred images make an accurate diagnosis more difficult and may subject veterinary staff to more radiation exposure.
Some body locations are more difficult to x-ray without sedation or anesthesia. For instance, x-rays of the mouth can’t be done without needing the dog to be anesthetized so to attain good films.
Another example of x-rays that may require sedation/anesthesia are those for OFA screening. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals requires x-rays of the dog’s hips/elbows to be evaluated and classified. Sedation or anesthesia may be needed for these x-rays because vet staff will have to stretch the back or front legs to get a good picture of the ball/socket joint.
Sedation may be needed as well when taking x-rays of a dog’s leg when a dog has sustained an injury and manipulating the limb may cause pain. Dogs have different pain tolerance levels. There are dogs who can tolerate being manipulated even with a fractured leg, while others will scream/yelp with just a minor sprain.
On the other hand, x-rays of the dog’s abdomen or dog’s chest can be generally done quite easily on awake, non-sedated dogs. However, dogs who aren’t keen with being handled and placed up on a table, or dogs who are anxious because of unfamiliar surroundings or from being briefly away from their owners, and being handled by strangers, may require sedation to prevent stress and potential injuries to the dog itself and staff.
Generally, sedation costs significantly less than general anesthesia. Sedation for small dogs may cost roughly $65, while for larger dogs, sedation may cost $75. Anesthesia costs vary based on how long the procedure lasts and the the type of anesthesia used. In general, the initial 30 minutes of anesthesia for a dog may cost $99. In general, expect to pay more the larger your dog is considering that smaller dogs will require less sedation/anesthesia.
Specific Additional Canine X-Ray Costs
There may be further costs of x-rays that should be considered. These are special circumstances, but are worthy of mentioning considering that they can significantly increase those dog x-ray prices.
For instance, sometimes when a dog presents with symptoms suggestive of an intestinal blockage, the vet may request a specific test that is known as a “barium study.”
In a barium study, the dog will swallow barium (a chalky white substance that shows up bright white on x-rays). After ingesting barium, the vet will take x-rays while the substance moves through the dog’s gut and monitors its progress or whether it stops somewhere (which is suggestive of a blockage or obstruction).Generally, a barium study which involves several x-rays may cost around $300 to $400.
Sometimes, dog x-rays aren’t easy to interpret and vets may miss elements that are important for diagnostic purposes. It may be worthy in some specific circumstances to have a dog’s x rays reviewed by board certified radiologists.
These experts who have made of interpreting x-rays and other diagnostic imaging their area of specialty. Indeed, after vet school, they spend an additional four to five years getting additional specialized training focusing on the fascinating world of diagnostic imaging. Expect these experts to charge anywhere between $120 to $300 with the upper range often being charged for those cases that need priority results STAT (within a short timeframe).
While x-rays can provide many insights onto what is happening inside the dog’s body, some areas cannot be properly seen on x-ray. For instance, an x-ray cannot allow the vet to visual include inside the skull and other areas such as the inner structure of the heart, the bladder and some abdominal organs.
These areas require advanced imaging techniques to visualize such as computed tomography (CT scan); which is a more specialized type of X-ray providing detailed images, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); not really X-rays, but an imaging technique using a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to create images of the body, and ultrasound (US); again not x-rays, but an imaging system using sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. These advances imaging techniques can be significantly more costly.
A Matter of Location
As mentioned, the answer of the question “How much does a dog x-ray cost?”also varies based on location. In general, veterinary hospitals in small towns tends to cost less than veterinary hospitals in large cities. It may be worthy calling around several vet offices to get rough estimates of dog x-rays costs. Sometimes driving just a few extra miles may be ultimately worthy.
If you are having difficulty paying for your dog’s x-ray costs, consider contacting your local animal welfare organizations, rescue groups and local animal shelter. Sometimes these organizations are in contact with local vets who charge considerably less.
Another option is to contact a local veterinary school. While it may feel a bit scary having your dog being cared by veterinary students, consider that they are supervised by a vet. The American Veterinary Medical Association website has a list of vet schools that can be narrowed down by location.
There are also financial institutions that can help out such as Care Credit which issues a credit card that you can use and pay back with multiple payment options and that can help you get through your dog’s initial health crisis.
If you have a long-term relationship with your vet and have always paid your dog’s veterinary care expenses in full in the past, some vets may be willing to put you on a payment plan or offer a discount. Also, don’t forget to ask about multi-pet discounts if you take multiple dogs to the vet.
Reducing Dog X-Rays Costs with Pet Insurance
It’s a fact: veterinary costs keep increasing and dog owners may struggle to keep up. Pet insurance may be a good way to cover unexpected costs when they arise. Many dog owners are thankful when they are faced with a hefty veterinary bill and their insurance covers a good portion of it.
In the image above, the affected dog presented to the vet with digestive issues, vomiting and excess flatulence and the veterinarian requested several x-rays of the dog’s abdomen. In this case, 6 views were necessary and as seen, these ended up costing a total of $434.48. If you add the exam fee of $69.75 and then other general tests, you can see how easily those veterinary costs add up. This dog fortunately had pet insurance which covered 80 percent of those costs.
In most cases, pet insurance should cover canine x-rays when they are recommended by a veterinarian for a dog who has presented for illness or as a result of an accident. However, pet insurance might not cover x-rays that weren’t specifically recommended by the vet.
Pet insurance is a good solution for defeating those surges in veterinary costs. Just one night of hospitalization, x-rays, blood work and fluids can easily amount to thousands of dollars. There are many pet insurance companies nowadays to choose from, and it is best to start coverage ever since the dog is a puppy. Many pet insurance companies won’t cover pre-existing conditions.
Why are Dog X-rays So Expensive?
Great question! There is a whole lot going on behind those closed doors. An x-ray machine can be rather costly equipment ranging anywhere from 50,000 to even $100,000 or more for the latest technology including installation. Often, these pieces of machinery are not paid off in full, but rather veterinary hospitals have to get a commercial loan that of course has interest.
On top of this, consider that the x-ray machine is not something that just sits there undisturbed for years to come. These machines need expensive maintenance, service contracts and regular inspections. X-rays also require storage space whether the images are digital or not.
Then, to add up the costs, there is a need for protective equipment to protect employees from radiation (lead gowns), not to mention the employees taking the x-rays will need to be paid with an hourly rate. In general at least two employees are needed: a veterinary technician to operate the machinery and an assistant to hold the dog still. These are just a few insights without considering additional costs.