How Much Does a Dog CT Scan Cost?

Last Updated on February 28, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

A CT (computed tomography) scan is an important diagnostic tool used by veterinarians to get detailed images of a dog’s body. It allows vets to see inside organs, tissues, bones and blood vessels, helping diagnose conditions like cancer, injuries and organ disease. But CT scans come at a cost – so how much can pet owners expect to pay for this procedure?

This article will break down the average costs of dog CT scans, factors that influence pricing, financial assistance options, cost saving tips, and what to consider when deciding if your dog needs this imaging test. Having a clear understanding of the expenses involved will help you budget for your pet’s veterinary care.

How Much Does a Dog CT Scan Cost?

According to veterinary clinics across the country, owners can expect to pay between $500 and $2,500 per CT scan for their dog. However, prices often exceed $2,500 when getting scans at specialist offices or emergency hospitals.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of the typical pricing ranges:

  • Basic Full Body CT scan – This provides a general overview of internal organs and tissues throughout the body. Cost is usually between $500 – $1,500.
  • Focused Scan of One Area or Organ – Looking in-depth at a particular region like the abdomen, chest, head or legs generally ranges from $800 – $1,800.
  • Complex Scan of Multiple Areas – For detailed views of several body parts such as the abdomen and chest, expect pricing of $1,200 – $2,500 or more.
  • Emergency or Specialty Vet CT scans – At specialty hospitals or emergency vet clinics, costs often start at $2,000 and can exceed $5,000 in some cases. This includes places like veterinary teaching universities.
  • Contrast Enhanced CT scans – These specialized scans require an injection of contrast dye to see certain tissues more clearly. With the contrast agent, expect to pay $1,500 – $3,000 depending on the regions being imaged.

Other considerations that influence cost:

  • Location and Vet Clinic Type – Urban, suburban, specialty, and university clinics tend to be more expensive.
  • Anesthesia and Monitoring – This may add $200-$600 for sedation medications, intubation, and anesthesia equipment/staff.
  • Scan Complexity – More detailed imaging takes longer and uses more radiation exposure, increasing the fees.
  • Service Add-Ons – Additional consult, hospitalization, lab work or medication fees can all increase the total bill.

For most straightforward CT scans, $1,500 is a reasonable average cost estimate for dogs. But pet owners can expect pricing to range from $500 up to $5,000+ depending on the factors above. Understanding the specifics of your dog’s situation will help gauge the anticipated pricing.

According to Pets Best Insurance, the cost of a CT scan or MRI for pets can range from $800 to $1,200 for each diagnostic screening.

PetMD notes that the cost of a CT scan for pets can vary depending on the complexity of the scan and the study, with prices potentially reaching up to $1,000 for scans that require iodine injection. In New York City, the total cost, including consultation, examination, blood work, anesthesia, hospitalization, and the scan itself, can range from $1,500 to $2,500.

At Radiology Assist, the cost of a PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomographic) starts at $1,000 and may vary depending on the imaging center chosen and whether special tracers are needed.

Factors That Determine Dog CT Scan Costs

Several variables play into the price you’ll pay for your dog to have a CT scan:

  • Location – Costs vary by geographic region and whether you’re in an urban or rural area. Prices tend to be higher in major metro areas.
  • Type of clinic – Specialty and emergency vet clinics charge more than general practices. Prices are usually highest at university veterinary hospitals.
  • Scan complexity – More detailed imaging comes at a higher cost. Scans focusing on certain body parts are pricier than a simpler, full body overview.
  • Anesthesia/sedation – Most dogs require anesthesia for CT scans, which adds several hundred dollars.
  • Service inclusions – Fees for initial consultation, hospitalization, medications or contrast dye can all increase the total bill.

Knowing these cost factors will help you estimate potential vet bills for a dog CT scan in your area.

Dog Health Insurance and Financial Assistance

CT Scan DogTo ease the financial burden, look into these options to help manage CT scan costs for your dog:

  • Pet insurance – Policies with diagnostic imaging coverage can reimburse 70% or more of your vet bill for the CT scan, minus your deductible.
  • Veterinary charities – Non-profits like RedRover Relief and Frankie’s Friends Fund may provide financial aid for qualifying applicants.
  • Special payment plans – Some vet clinics offer their own financing programs or partner with third-party services like CareCredit.
  • Manufacturer rebates – Ask your vet about manufacturer rebates that potentially discount the cost of sedation drugs or imaging contrast dyes.
  • Government assistance – In certain cases, non-profits like the Human Society have funds via grants to assist low-income families with vet expenses.

Consult your vet to learn about financial assistance in your area to offset the cost of a CT scan for your dog.

Tips for Saving Money on Dog CT scans

To make this important veterinary imaging more affordable, keep these money-saving tips in mind:

  • Compare prices between clinics. Call around for quotes as costs can vary dramatically. Consider mobile vet CT services.
  • Ask about discount days or packages. Some clinics offer periodic discounts or bundled pricing on services.
  • Explain your financial constraints. Vets may suggest more affordable alternatives or work with you on costs.
  • Consider a specialty scan vs. full body. Focusing on a particular area may cost less than a full overview.
  • Ask what’s included. Avoid unnecessary add-ons like hospital stays or extra meds that increase the bill.
  • Have records sent to a regular vet. Primary vets usually charge less to review specialist results.
  • Use your pet insurance. Policies with good diagnostic test coverage will reimburse a large portion of the CT scan cost.
  • Inquire about payment plans. Many vets allow you to pay over time, avoiding a large one-time payment.

Is a CT scan Worth the Cost?

You might also like our articles about the cost of an Echocardiogram, blood transfusion, or x-ray for your dog.

While CT scans come at a premium price, they provide invaluable medical insights that often can’t be gained through x-rays or ultrasounds alone.

The imaging allows vets to make accurate diagnoses and determine the best treatments for serious health conditions. This leads to better prognosis and survival rates in pets.

CT scans are most recommended for:

  • Cancer screening and staging
  • Checking for organ damage or disease
  • Diagnosing bone and joint abnormalities
  • Identifying spinal cord injuries or brain disorders
  • Guiding biopsies, surgery or targeted radiation therapy

For conditions like these, the benefits of a CT scan typically outweigh the costs. The imaging gives vets the vital information they need to improve treatment plans and medical outcomes. This can ultimately extend and improve your pet’s quality of life.

However, for more general pet health issues, x-rays or ultrasounds may suffice at a lower price. Discuss with your vet whether advanced CT imaging would provide significant benefits over other scan types for your dog’s specific circumstances. This will help you make an informed decision on proceeding.

Plan Ahead for Pet CT Scan Costs

While an average CT scan for dogs ranges from $500 to $2,500, prices can exceed $5,000 in certain cases. Location, clinic type, scan complexity and your financial assistance options all impact the total costs.

To budget for this large potential expense, pet owners should:

  • Purchase pet insurance with strong diagnostic test coverage
  • Ask vets about payment plans and financial aid programs
  • Compare prices between clinics and veterinary radiology groups
  • Weigh the benefits of specialized CT scans for your dog’s condition
  • Follow cost-saving tips like using specialty scans judiciously

Planning ahead is essential, as CT scans offer critical diagnostic clarity that can improve healthcare and quality of life for your dog. Being proactive about finances will ensure you can proceed with these scans when medically advised, providing your pet the best possible care.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to expect when having a dog CT scan?

Most dogs require general anesthesia or sedation for CT scans to keep them still during the imaging process. They will receive an injection of medication, then be intubated and hooked up to anesthetic gas. Once fully under, pets will be positioned on the scanner table and technicians will leave the room while the actual scan takes place.

Owners usually aren’t allowed inside for safety reasons. The scan itself takes 5-30 minutes depending on the region being imaged. Dogs wake up quickly once anesthesia is stopped and can go home once fully recovered, usually within 1-3 hours.

Do dogs need to fast before a CT scan?

Yes, dogs should fast overnight before a CT scan, with no food after midnight. Fasting helps prevent vomiting under anesthesia and avoids food contents interfering with image clarity. However, you can still give water up until the scan itself as staying hydrated is important. The vet will provide guidance on exact fasting times.

Is a CT scan worth it for a dog?

In many cases, yes – the clarity and detail provided by a CT scan is worth the cost to accurately diagnosis serious conditions like cancer, organ disease, bone fractures and joint issues. It provides critical information to vets on the extent of disease and best treatment options.

For life-threatening illnesses, a CT scan can be extremely valuable and is often recommended by vets. However, for more minor issues, other cheaper scan types may be suitable instead. Discuss with your vet whether a CT scan is the right choice

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