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Exploring Veterinary Radiography for Cats & Dogs: Digital Advances in Care

Technological advancements have led to many improvements in diagnostic capabilities, including digital imaging. In this blog post, our St. Louis vets discuss how veterinary radiography assists with the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions in cats sand dogs, and the benefits of digital X-rays for pets. 

Veterinary Radiography for Cats & Dogs 

Radiography (X-rays) is the use of electromagnetic radiation to produce a visual image on a surface, such as an electronic sensor or photographic plate. X-rays can penetrate tissues and give your vet a view of your pet's internal structures. 

Both X-rays and visible light rays are types of electromagnetic energy carried in waves by photons. X-rays have a higher energy and a shorter wavelength than visible light.

An X-ray's energy beam can be absorbed by many hard materials or by mineralized tissues in the body such as teeth and bones. Soft tissues, including the liver and kidneys, absorb some X-rays, while air does not absorb any X-rays. Lead will completely absorb all X-rays. This will result in an image where the bones appear white, the soft tissues are shades of grey, and all other space will remain black. 

To perform an X-ray, your vet will direct a beam of photons at a specific area on your pet's body. A digital sensor (or film cassette for traditional X-rays) will be placed behind your pet to catch any X-rays that aren't absorbed by bones or tissues, creating the image you and your vet will see. 

For example, if your cat or dog has injured their leg, your vet can order an X-ray to assess the damage. 

X-rays are also commonly used to diagnose problems such as pneumonia, heart failure, cancer, and many other health conditions.

Dental Radiographs for Veterinary Care 

Dental radiographs (X-rays) are performed in a veterinary diagnostic laboratory. They can help your vet diagnose and monitor a variety of dental conditions that would otherwise go undetected below the surface of the teeth and gums. These X-rays are high-resolution images that reveal the tooth roots, pulp, crown, and surrounding bone of each of your pet's teeth. 

Some issues that can be spotted using this dental technology include tooth abscesses, cavities, and fractures. Many pets are notorious for not showing any signs of pain or discomfort and will continue to eat and function normally even if they are experiencing pain. Once diagnosed using dental X-rays, your pet can be treated using other procedures and technologies as well as medications through our vet lab.

This type of radiograph is used in the same way that the ones for humans are used. These X-ray machines use a small amount of radiation to create an image of your pet's internal structures.

One difference between digital dental radiographs for pets and those for humans is the fact that your pet will need to be sedated to successfully capture an X-ray. Your pet will be generally safe when under general anesthesia and their vitals will be monitored throughout the entirety of their visit. Bloodwork will be required before the anesthetic is administered to your cat or dog to ensure the health and safety of your pet.

The Benefits of Digital Advancements in Veterinary Radiography

With veterinarians exploring new ways of using technology, veterinary digital radiography has quickly become the standard. These digital X-rays offer several benefits including:

  • Enhanced image quality: Digital X-rays offer better image quality along with the ability to manipulate the images.
  • Lesser radiation exposure: There is less exposure to radiation with digital radiographs due to the use of a digital detector for capturing images.
  • Reduced space requirement: Digital X-ray machines take up less compared to their traditional counterparts. With the images being digital, there is also no need for physical film storage.
  • Faster processing time: The images produced can be viewed immediately allowing for faster diagnosis and treatment planning.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Do you have more questions about X-rays or other imaging technology offered at Animal Emergency Clinic? Contact our St. Louis vets at either of our locations .

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Animal Emergency Clinic is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from St. Louis and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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