Simon Dupree in Dogs, Pets, Vets Sep 11, 2019 · 2 min read · ~100

What to Expect When Your Dog Needs an MRI

What to Expect When Your Dog Needs an MRI

No one likes to see their dog getting sick and going through tough times. Luckily, as human medicine advances further, the techniques that we use for treating and diagnosing health problems are also becoming available to our furry friends. We’ve all heard of someone having a CT (’CAT’ scan) before, or going to the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

These procedures have been in use for quite some time in humans, but are now more and more widespread in veterinary medicine. If your dog has a nervous system or musculoskeletal system problems, it’s probably best if you take him to a veterinary neurologist and radiologist to get an MRI.

How Do They Perform an MRI On a Dog?

Performing an MRI on a dog is a bit different than in humans. Because a dog has to lie still on the table for an extended period of time, anesthesia is required. The reason why any living creature needs to lie still in order to get an MRI is due to the fact that MRI captures differences in tissue density.

It’s important to note that the MRI can capture even very small abnormalities, so you can evaluate soft tissues (such as the brain or spinal cord), intervertebral discs, tendons, ligaments, and muscles with more precision than with a CT, for example.

What Can MRI Exactly Tell Us About the Dog?

We’ve already indicated that the MRI is great for determining subtle abnormalities in soft tissues. This means that you can fairly easily determine if your dog has any of the following conditions: brain or spinal cord tumors, disc herniation, joint problems, growth or infections in the sinuses, brain hemorrhage, musculoskeletal problems, etc. On top of these things, MRI is also great at determining seizure causes, causes of personality changes in dogs, or any other neurological signs that might reveal the reasons why your dog isn’t behaving the same.

These changes can be hard on any dog owner, so we recommend you to further educate yourself about these conditions. Try reading books, brochures, or blogs like Totally Goldens, for instance, to get a clearer picture of why your pooch is acting a certain way. In some cases, it’s totally normal or expected that your dog is behaving badly or inadequately, and these situations often don’t raise any reasons for concern. But in some other instances, your dog might be having a serious health problem that you should definitely explore further.

How Safe Is MRI for Dogs?

Many dog owners fear that their dog might be suffering from some negative side-effects when they’re done with the procedure of getting an MRI. As we’ve already stated, most dogs go through the procedure under general anesthesia. Any movement would blur the images so the radiologist wouldn’t be able to read them correctly.

As far as negative side-effects from the MRI goes, there are very few. When you compare this to CAT scans which take many X-ray slices throughout the dog’s body, for example, there should be no fear whatsoever from getting an MRI. The MRI doesn’t require radiation and is a completely safe procedure in most cases.

However, the fact that the dog requires general anesthesia is another reason for concern for many dog owners. You should keep in mind that anesthesia risks are usually very low, and it’s pretty safe to say that most dogs do great under general anesthesia. There are ways to determine whether your dog is going to react badly to the general anesthesia. Vets take blood samples before they give your dog anesthesia to determine whether the animal is going to do ok under it.

The Bottom Line

Every dog owner knows just how stressful it might be when your beloved pet friend gets sick. But the good thing is that the advancements in veterinary medicine are providing our trusted companions with the possibility to effectively treat some of the ailments that they might be going through.

Getting an MRI for your dog can be a great way of determining whether the animal is suffering from certain conditions that affect soft tissues. That’s why it’s so important to properly educate yourself about these things, in order to provide your dog with the best care possible.