Dog Xray Guide: How Much Does It Cost?

Your dog is ill so you take him to the vet.

The vet tells you that your dog needs to have x-rays done. It can be a frightening experience, especially if this has occurred due to an emergency situation, such as if your dog choked on a bone or hurt his leg.

Why does your dog need an x-ray?

X-rays can show the dog’s internal structures such as the bones, organs, and issues, so that whatever is ailing your dog will be easier to be diagnosed.

That said, you have to be prepared for the cost and what to expect from the x-ray process. So, with that in mind, let’s jump right in and find out more about dog x-rays.

Why Do Vets Use X-Rays?

X-rays have been used for over 100 years to diagnose various medical problems in pets as well as humans.

They’re really common for pets who are presenting with a health problem or emergency situation because they’re much more affordable than other types of tests and they’re really valuable when diagnosing a variety of problems in your pet without a hassle.  

Common Reasons Why Your Dog Might Need X-Rays

Why Do Vets Use X-Rays?

There are some common reasons why your vet might request x-rays for your dog.

These include if your vet suspects that your dog has a broken bone, has orthopaedic problems (such as dysplasia), has swallowed a foreign object, is suspected of being pregnant, is suspected of having an illness such as cancer, or is suspected of having calcified stones in the kidneys, bladder, or gallbladder.

X-rays are pretty amazing because they can also be used to monitor health conditions that you’re already aware of in your dog, such as those that affect the liver, lungs, heart or other organs. In addition, x-rays can diagnose dental problems in your dog.  

In addition to diagnosing health conditions or injuries, x-rays can also help your vet get a clearer picture of your dog’s organs before doing a  surgical procedure on him or her.

If your dog requires surgery, x-rays will help the vet to find the best strategy for doing the surgery.

This could include helping the vet find the correct size of screws or plates that will be required if these are going to be used during the surgery, thus making the whole medical procedure much more efficient.

How Much Can An X-Ray Show?

Earlier we mentioned that an x-ray can show the vet a closer view of the dog’s internal structures, but it’s good to know what x-rays can – and can’t – do. X-rays are particularly good for identifying intestinal blockages as well as health conditions that we’ve already mentioned.

However, when it comes to certain illnesses or problems, x-rays won’t provide a clear enough picture of what’s going on inside your dog’s organs. For example, if the dog has a small tumor it might not be clearly detected on an x-ray.

In such cases, the dog would have to have other tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans instead. In this way, x-rays can be a bit limited, as is the case with human x-rays too.

Types Of Dog X-Rays

There are three common types of x-rays that pets commonly have to have. These are:

  • Abdominal X-Rays

These x-rays show a clearer picture of the dog’s abdomen and stomach, and is used to diagnose conditions such as bladder stones. The x-rays will show the shapes of the dog’s organs to identify if there are any inconsistencies. These x-rays can also help to diagnose pregnancy and large tumors. Finally, if your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t have (like safety pins or an entire bag of Dentastix), these will light up clearly on the scan.

  • Chest X-Rays

These x-rays focus on showing the lungs and heart. X-rays of the chest can help your vet see if your pet might have conditions such as cancer.

  • Orthopaedic X-Rays

This type of x-ray will help your vet take a closer look at your pet’s bones and if there’s something amiss with them. So, if you suspect that your dog has a fracture, an orthopaedic disorder, or a bone deformation, these will all show up on the x-ray so that your vet can make a diagnosis.  

What The X-Ray Process Is Like For Your Dog?

When your vet says that your dog needs to have x-rays, it’s only normal to worry about the process. If this is the first time your dog needs to have x-rays done, you might be even more worried about your dog and if the x-ray will cause him or her discomfort or pain.

Therefore, it helps to know what the x-ray process will be like for your dog.

  • First, a plastic cassette that contains film will be put underneath the area that needs to be x-rayed.
  • The x-ray equipment will be on a mechanical arm and placed above the area on the dog’s body that needs to be tested.
  • When the x-ray occurs, it will take pictures of the dog’s internal body. The whole x-ray process takes about 10 minutes, so it isn’t a long process at all, which is reassuring.
  • After the x-rays have been done, they will be sent to your vet who will evaluate them before consulting with you about possible treatment for your dog. If your dog is having digital x-rays, these are processed much faster and can be viewed immediately.

Will Your Dog Need To Be Sedated?

Will Your Dog Need To Be Sedated?

One of the worries pet owners might have when it comes to their dogs having x-rays is if their pets will need to be sedated. This is unlikely. What happens during the x-rays is that the dog will be placed on its back or side so that pictures can be taken.

It’s pretty non-invasive. Sometimes your dog will have to be moved around so that images can be taken of different parts of his or her body.

If, however, your dog is anxious or is in a lot of pain and that’s compromising the process because he or she can’t lie still, then light anaesthesia could be administered by the vet to help your dog relax and remain still.

In addition, sometimes the dog’s muscles need to be relaxed so that it will be easier for the x-rays to be taken and so that the vet won’t need to take lots of x-rays in order to get the clearest possible images.

In such cases, giving the dog light sedation will have the effect of making the x-ray process much smoother and faster.

How Much Will The X-Rays Cost?

Will Your Dog Need To Be Sedated?

When you hear that your dog needs x-rays so that you can find out what’s wrong with him or her, it can feel overwhelming. You’re not only worried about what’s ailing your dog – you’re probably also worried about how much the x-rays will cost.

How much you can expect to pay will depend on various factors, such as how many x-rays are required, if the pet will need to be sedated, the type of x-rays (there are regular and digital x-rays), where you’re located, and the type of facility where your dog is having the x-rays done.

This basically means that if you’ve taken your dog to the vet for x-rays, you’ll pay less than if you take your dog to the emergency hospital.

That said, don’t hesitate to bring your dog to an emergency clinic or hospital if they’re in pain, even if it’s after hours and the cost will be more than what you’d pay at a veterinarian clinic.

Bear in mind that the location also refers to the state in which you live. If you live in a large city, such as Los Angeles, you’ll likely pay more money for your dog’s x-rays than if you live in a smaller town.

Generally, an x-ray can cost around $50 and $125. If your pet needs sedation, the cost will vary depending on the size of the pet. The larger your pet, the more sedation will be required, so you’ll have to pay more.

If your dog is a large one and needs to be sedated, this could cost around $225, while the cost for sedating smaller dogs is around $150 but could be as low as $50. It’s clear to see that the anaesthetic that could be recommended for your dog is what can make x-rays much more expensive.

If your dog needs more than one x-ray, then you can pay between $25 and $75 for them. Bear in mind you will also have to pay for the visit to your vet, which could be up to $100.

An x-ray could also be more expensive if the area of the dog’s body that needs to be x-rayed is large, such as if your vet wants to take a closer look at all his or her bones.

If the vet wants to give your dog a substance, called contrast, to make the body’s structures show up better on the x-ray, then this could also cost a bit more.

Finally, it’s also worth bearing in mind that different vets will vary when it comes to how much they charge for pet x-rays.

So, it could help you to cut costs by getting quotes from different vets, however it’s not always practical to do this, such as in the case of an emergency.

In addition, sometimes people like to stick with the vet that they have due to familiarity or excellent treatment that they experienced from that vet in the past. You might want to go along with the cost you’re charged because you trust the vet, which is totally understandable.

How Are X-Rays Read?

Will Your Dog Need To Be Sedated?

When the x-rays are done, their film will be processed so that the vet can look at them. X-rays are white and grey, with white signifying dense tissue.

X-rays send a small amount of radiation into different parts of your dog’s body so that pictures of the internal structures can be seen. On x-rays, soft tissue (such as organs) isn’t capable of absorbing this radiation.

On the other hand, dense tissue (such as bone) can absorb the radiation and this will allow a picture to be produced.

It’s interesting to see how certain health problems will show up on an x-ray. Bladder stones will show up in an x-ray as well-defined round white items, while tumors tend to appear as white areas on the x-ray, however small tumors sometimes don’t show up well and require further tests.

Are X-Rays Safe For Dogs?

Are X-Rays Safe For Dogs?

There’s been much talk about whether x-rays are safe for human health, but what about dogs?

This could be something that worries you when your dog’s vet tells you that your dog needs to have x-rays and possibly more than just one.

The good news is that x-rays are not harmful to your dog. Before your dog goes through the x-ray process, your vet will take his or her health into consideration. This is to make sure that the radiation will be safe for the pet, like if your dog is pregnant.

It’s good to remember that your vet will only suggest your dog has an x-ray if they see that the benefits outweigh the risks, such as finding out why your dog is ill or can’t move properly. It’s important to do this as quickly as possible so that your dog will feel better.

In addition, it’s good to remember that an x-ray is a quick process and doesn’t always result in more than one x-ray needing to be done.

It is said that repeated x-ray exposure should be avoided and as long as your dog remains still during the process then one x-ray will probably be enough.

However, you should ask your vet about covering your dog’s body during the x-ray process so that he or she can be covered in places that don’t need to be x-rayed, in a similar way that humans are covered during x-rays to prevent unnecessary radiation.

Your vet will probably reassure you about the levels of radiation in x-rays for dogs, pointing out that modern x-ray equipment only emits low radiation levels when used occasionally, thus making it extremely safe for your dog.

That said, you might wonder why the x-ray operators are wearing protective gear if the x-rays are supposed to be completely safe for your dog?

Well, don’t worry because they’re just taking precautions against accidental exposure for themselves.

Your dog is fine, but if you’re still worried you could ask your vet about using digital x-rays. These modern x-rays give your dog even less radiation and prevent the possible use of chemicals.

What Is A GI X-Ray?

When getting a GI x-ray, your dog will be given a solution that contains barium so that the vet will be able to see any gastrointestinal problems on the x-ray. The reason for this is because barium appears as bright white on x-rays.

So, when x-rays are taken of the dog’s abdomen, the vet will be able to see the barium working through the stomach and intestines.

If it can’t seem to make its way through, that could signify a blockage, so a GI x-ray can be very helpful if you think your dog has ingested something that’s become stuck in its body.


What insurance should you get for your dog? 

You can expect to pay up to $50 per month for pet insurance, but it depends on what you want covered. If your dog is older, you’ll want to insure them for x-rays, blood work, and other tests. A younger dog can get away with being covered for less, but bear in mind that accidents can happen!

How can you pay off the money for your pet’s x-ray?

Speak to your vet. Some veterinarian practices let their clients pay the cost in small amounts over a period of time. If that doesn’t work, consider teaching hospitals. These allow students to practice veterinary procedures under supervision and they tend to be cheaper than vets.


If your dog needs x-rays, you might feel worried about the process and how much you can expect to pay for it. In this article, we’ve prepared you for what you can expect, not just when it comes to the cost of x-rays for your dog but also when x-rays are likely to be recommended and if x-rays are safe for your dog.

If your dog has a health problem or injury that needs to be properly diagnosed and treated, dog xrays are fast and effective ways for vets to get to the bottom of the problem and get your dog back on track to optimal health.

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