X-rays for dogs and cats: A look inside pet health

11 December 2023 - 2 min read
Dog getting an x ray

When our furry friends feel ill or suffer a bump, it’s natural to want to find out what’s going on and take them for medical care. While vets can learn a lot from symptoms and physical examinations, they’ll sometimes want to conduct an x-ray in order to understand more about your pet’s condition, and decide on the best treatment.   

As with any medical procedure, pet owners may worry about the cost and necessity of x-rays. To help you give your pet the best possible care, let’s take a closer look at why x-rays are so useful, how much you can expect to pay for the process, and how pet insurance can help. 

What are x-rays and when does your pet need one?

X-rays, or radiographs, are a form of invisible electromagnetic radiation that creates images of the inside of bodies. That radiation is absorbed at different rates by different materials, so when x-rays pass through a body, and parts such as bones and tissue, an x-ray detector can create a detailed image of that body’s internal structure. Pet x-rays use an extremely low dose of radiation and are non-invasive, which means your pet will be comfortable and safe when undergoing the procedure.

X-ray images are extremely useful for diagnosing fractures, spotting foreign objects that a curious pet might have swallowed, or even detecting more serious conditions like tumours or heart disease. Typically, your vet might suggest an x-ray if your pet:

  • Is limping or showing signs of pain

  • Has been involved in an accident or trauma

  • Exhibits symptoms of an internal issues, such as difficulty breathing or abdominal pain

  • Needs a dental examination (yes, pets get dental x-rays too!)

How much does an x-ray cost for a dog or cat in the UK?

Cat and dog x-ray costs vary depending on several factors. On average, you might expect to pay between £300 to £400. The price will usually include a set of 2 views, and sedation for the pet while the images are captured. If more images are needed, the process will cost more: larger animals, for example, may need a greater number of views to capture the target area, or more complex views for diagnosis. 

With that in mind, the cost of pet x-rays may vary by:

  • Type of x-ray: A standard x-ray is less expensive than more advanced options like a contrast study or a CT scan.

  • Number of views needed: Multiple angles of a pet’s body are almost always necessary to get the full picture of their condition.

  • Size of pet: Larger cats and dogs may require more time for an x-ray procedure, or may need larger x-ray plates to create an effective image.

  • Location of clinic: Veterinary practices in larger cities may charge more for an x-ray than those in rural areas.

  • Sedation requirements: An anxious or painful pet may need to be sedated during their x-ray to ensure clear images. In the UK, most pets are given some mild amount of sedation to get quality images taken.

Peace of mind with pet insurance

While the potential cost of a pet x-ray can be worrying, pet insurance can soften the financial impact. ManyPets offers insurance plans for cats and dogs that cover diagnostic tests such as x-rays when they are recommended by a vet. 

Cats and dogs love to explore and play, and can be accident prone, so it’s always a good idea to consider pet insurance as a way to avoid unwelcome surprises. If you're concerned about the costs of a pet x-ray, talk to your vet about payment options or insurance coverage before the need arises. Having a plan in place offers peace of mind, and ensures your pet can access the care they need, when they need it.

Lewis Martins
Communities marketer

Lewis has worked in pet health since 2017. Before joining ManyPets in 2021, he led content production at VetForum and PetsApp. Lewis has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest vet groups and suppliers to write educational articles for vets and pet parents. His Instagram feed is 60% dogs, 40% cats.