How Much Does a Dog CT Scan Cost?


Insurance Ranked

- Updated September 13, 2023

How Much Does a Dog CT Scan Cost?

Bringing a new four-legged friend into your life can be exhilarating. However, the joys of pet ownership come with responsibilities, including ensuring your pet’s health and well-being. As a first-time pet owner, navigating the world of veterinary care can be both exciting and overwhelming.

The CT scan is a critical aspect of modern veterinary medicine that has revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of various canine ailments. While a CT scan may sound daunting, understanding its importance in veterinary care can help you provide the best care for your four-legged friend.

CT (or CAT) scans are advanced medical imaging techniques that allow veterinarians to obtain detailed cross-sectional images of a dog’s internal structures. These images are indispensable tools for diagnosing various medical conditions in dogs, from bone fractures to soft tissue injuries and certain types of cancer. Think of it as a high-resolution, three-dimensional snapshot of your pet’s insides, revealing intricate details that traditional X-rays or physical examinations might miss.


Understanding the CT Scan Procedure

A Computed Tomography (CT) scan, often called a CAT scan, is a sophisticated medical imaging technique that plays a pivotal role in veterinary medicine. It uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to generate cross-sectional, high-resolution images of a dog’s internal structures. Unlike traditional X-rays, which provide a two-dimensional view, CT scans create detailed three-dimensional images, offering a comprehensive look at a dog’s anatomy. These images are essential for diagnosing a range of medical conditions, making CT scans an invaluable tool in veterinary care.

Differences from X-rays and MRIs

Comprehensive Visualization

While regular X-rays are useful for detecting bone fractures and specific soft tissue abnormalities, they lack the level of detail provided by CT scans. CT scans can reveal intricate structures, such as blood vessels, organs, and even subtle tissue abnormalities.

Distinctive advantage over MRIs

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another advanced imaging technique in veterinary medicine. MRIs excel at capturing detailed soft tissue images, making them valuable for assessing brain and spinal cord issues. However, CT scans are often preferred for bony structures as they offer superior bone visualization.

Common Reasons for Canine CT Scans

Trauma Fractures

One of the most common reasons dogs require CT scans is due to trauma, such as car accidents or falls. CT scans can precisely identify fractures and assess the extent of internal injuries, guiding surgical interventions.

Neurological Disorders

Dogs experiencing seizures, coordination problems, or behavioral changes may undergo CT scans to investigate potential brain abnormalities, tumors, or bleeding in the brain.

Soft Tissue Abnormalities

When veterinarians suspect abnormalities in soft tissue, such as the liver, spleen, or lungs, CT scans provide a detailed view to diagnose conditions like tumors, cysts, or infections.

Cancer Staging

CT scans are crucial for staging cancer in dogs. They help determine the size and location of tumors and whether cancer has spread to other body parts, aiding in treatment planning.

Sinus and Dental Issues

Dogs with chronic sinus problems or dental concerns may benefit from CT scans, which provide precise images of the head and facial structures.

Orthopedic Assessments

CT scans are valuable for planning orthopedic surgeries, such as joint replacements or complex bone repairs. They help orthopedic specialists understand the extent of joint and bone damage.

Pet owners should understand the CT scan procedure's advantages over X-rays and MRIs. These advanced imaging techniques are crucial in diagnosing and treating various canine ailments, so your furry companion receives the best possible care.

Why Your Dog Might Need a CT Scan

Our canine companions, like us, are susceptible to myriad health concerns throughout their lives. When these issues arise, accurate and timely diagnosis becomes paramount. CT scans serve as an invaluable diagnostic tool with a wide range of applications in veterinary medicine. Here, we explore why your dog might need a CT scan, shedding light on its diagnostic prowess.

Detecting Tumors and Masses

One of the most critical applications of CT scans in veterinary medicine is detecting and characterizing tumors and masses. These scans can precisely locate and assess the size, shape, and composition of growths within your dog’s body. Whether it’s a suspicious lump, an unexplained swelling, or a potential malignancy, CT scans enable veterinarians to determine the nature of the mass, aiding in treatment decisions.

Bone Fractures and Orthopedic Issues

In cases of trauma or orthopedic concerns, CT scans offer a comprehensive view of bones and joints. They can pinpoint fractures, dislocations, or degenerative conditions with exceptional precision. Orthopedic specialists rely on CT scans for pre-surgical planning, ensuring that surgeries to repair or replace joints, bones, or ligaments are executed accurately.

Internal Abnormalities and Organ Evaluation

CT scans excel in providing detailed images of internal organs and tissues. Whether your dog exhibits unexplained symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or weight loss, or your routine exams indicate abnormalities, CT scans can unveil the root causes. They aid in diagnosing conditions like gastrointestinal blockages, kidney or liver disease, or vascular abnormalities that might not be detectable through other methods.

Pre-Surgical Planning

Before undergoing complex surgical procedures, a CT scan can be instrumental. Surgeons use these scans to create precise surgical plans, ensuring they precisely target the affected area while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. This approach enhances the chances of a successful procedure and facilitates quicker recovery for your furry friends.

Treatment Monitoring and Follow-Up

Regular CT scans may be necessary to monitor progress after initiating treatment, such as radiation therapy for tumors or medical management for specific conditions. These follow-up scans allow veterinarians to assess how well the treatment works and adjust as needed to provide the best care possible.

Factors Influencing the Cost of a Dog CT Scan

When it comes to the health and well-being of our canine companions, understanding the factors that influence the cost of a dog CT scan can help pet owners make informed decisions about their furry friend’s medical care. The price of a CT scan can vary significantly based on several crucial factors:

Geographical Location

Your geographical location is one of the most influential factors in determining the cost of a dog CT scan. Veterinary care expenses can vary widely from one region to another. Urban areas and densely populated regions tend to have higher living costs, which can translate to higher veterinary service fees. Additionally, veterinary specialists, including those equipped to perform CT scans, may be concentrated in certain areas, affecting the availability and cost of these services.

Type of Veterinary Clinic

The type of veterinary clinic where you seek care for your dog plays a significant role in the cost of a CT scan. Various veterinary facilities include general practice clinics, specialty referral hospitals, and university-affiliated veterinary teaching hospitals. Specialized facilities and teaching hospitals often have state-of-the-art imaging equipment, which may lead to higher fees for services like CT scans. However, they may also offer access to veterinary specialists with advanced expertise.

Severity and Complexity of the Condition

The severity and complexity of your dog’s condition can impact the cost of a CT scan. Diagnosing and treating more challenging or severe conditions often requires additional time, expertise, and resources. For example, if your dog needs a CT scan to investigate a complex orthopedic evaluation.

Sedation and Anesthesia

The need for sedation or anesthesia during the CT scan can influence the cost. Sedation or anesthesia is often necessary to ensure the dog remains still and calm during the procedure, resulting in clear and accurate images. The type of sedation or anesthesia used, the duration of the procedure, and any associated monitoring also factor into the final cost.

Additional Diagnostic Tests and Services

Sometimes, a CT scan is not the sole diagnostic tool required. Veterinarians may recommend additional tests or services, such as blood work, X-rays, or consultations with specialists, to comprehensively evaluate your dog’s condition. These supplementary services can add to the overall cost of diagnosing and treating your pet.


Average Cost Breakdown

When you embark on getting a CT scan for your dog, you must be aware of the various components contributing to the overall cost.

Initial Consultation or Examination Fees

The process typically begins with your primary veterinarian's initial consultation or examination. During this visit, your vet assesses your dog’s condition, discusses symptoms, and determines whether a CT scan is necessary. This consultation fee can vary but generally ranges from $50 to $150, depending on the clinic and location.

Pre-Scan Preparations

Pre-scan preparations may include blood tests, diagnostic imaging, or other assessments to ensure your dog is suitable for a CT scan. These additional tests can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 or more, depending on the complexity of your dog's condition and the extent of the workup required.

Sedation or Anesthesia Fees

Most dogs require sedation or anesthesia to remain calm during the CT scan. The cost of sedation or anesthesia varies based on factors like the dog’s size, the type of sedative or anesthetic used, and the duration of the procedure. On average, sedation or anesthesia fees can range from $50 to $300 or more.

The CT Scan Procedure Itself

The core of the expenses lies in the CT scan procedures itself. The price of a dog CT scan can vary widely depending on the clinic, location, and the body area being scanned. On average, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,500 for a single CT scan session. More complex scans, such as those involving multiple body parts or specialized imaging, may cost more.

Interpretation or Specialized Consultation Fees

After the CT scan, a radiologist or veterinary specialist reviews the images and provides a detailed interpretation of the findings. This interpretation fee can add $100 to $300 or more to the overall cost. If your dog’s condition requires consultation with a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon or neurologist, you should also budget for their consultation fees.

It’s important to note that these costs can vary significantly depending on factors like the geographical location, the specific veterinary clinic or hospital you choose, and the unique requirements of your dog’s case. In some cases, pet insurance may cover a portion of the expenses associated with diagnostic imaging and related veterinary services, so it’s wise to check your policy for coverage details.

Does Pet Insurance Cover CT Scans?

Pet insurance can be a lifesaver regarding unexpected veterinary expenses, including advanced diagnostic procedures like CT scans. However, understanding the ins and outs of pet insurance coverage for CT scans is essential to make informed decisions about your pet’s health and finances.

Pet insurance plans vary, but many policies cover CT scans under certain conditions. Typical coverage scenarios may include:

Illness and Injury

Most pet insurance policies cover CT scans when deemed medically necessary to diagnose and treat illnesses or injuries. For example, if your dog experiences unexplained neurological symptoms, and a CT scan is recommended for diagnosis, it will likely be covered.

Cancer Diagnosis and Staging

Many pet insurance plans include coverage for CT scans in cancer diagnosis and staging. This consists of the initial scan to diagnose cancer and follow-up scans to monitor the disease's progression and the treatment's effectiveness.

Pre-Approval and Medical Necessity

Sometimes, you may need pre-approval from your insurance provider for a CT scan. Additionally, the procedure must be deemed medically necessary by your veterinarian to be eligible for coverage.

Deductibles and Copayments

Like human health insurance, pet insurance often includes deductibles and copayments. The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. Copayments are the portion of the veterinary bill you are responsible for after meeting the deductible. The specific amounts can vary widely depending on your chosen plan.

Potential Out-of-Pocket Expenses

While pet insurance can significantly reduce the financial burden of a CT scan, there are still potential out-of-pocket expenses to consider.


You may pay your deductible before insurance coverage applies.


After meeting the deductible, you’ll typically be responsible for a percentage of the remaining bill.

Annual Limits

Pet insurance policies often have annual coverage limits. You'll be responsible for all further expenses once you reach this limit in a given policy year.


Be aware of any policy exclusions related to pre-existing conditions, waiting periods, or specific diagnostic procedures. CT scans may not be covered if they are related to a pre-existing condition or if you have a waiting period for diagnostic coverage.

Importance of Understanding Your Insurance Policy

Understanding the specifics of your pet insurance policy is paramount. Here’s what you should do:

Review your Policy

Carefully read your policy document to understand what it covers and doesn’t. Pay attention to coverage limits, deductibles, copayments, and waiting periods.

Ask Questions

If you have any doubts or need clarification, contact your insurance provider. They can explain the details of your coverage and answer any questions.

Plan Ahead

Before your pet needs a CT scan, know your coverage limits and what expenses you are likely to incur. This allows you to budget accordingly and make informed decisions about your pet’s healthcare.

How to Navigate the Cost: Tips and Suggestions

Managing the cost of a dog CT scan can be a significant concern for pet owners. However, several strategies and options can help you navigate these expenses without compromising your pet’s health.

Obtain Estimates From Multiple Veterinary Clinics

Before committing to a CT scan, seek estimates from multiple veterinary clinics. Prices vary considerably, and obtaining several quotes allows you to compare costs and choose a clinic that offers competitive rates while maintaining quality care.

Inquire about Payment Plans

Many veterinary clinics understand the financial strain that unexpected medical expenses can place on pet owners. Inquire about payment plans or financing options that allow you to spread the cost of the CT scan over time. Some clinics also offer financial assistance programs for pet owners in need.

Consider Preventive Care and Early Detection

Preventive care is crucial in managing your pet’s health and potentially reducing the need for costly diagnostic procedures like CT scans. Regular wellness exams, vaccinations, and routine screenings can help detect and address health issues early, potentially avoiding more extensive and expensive treatments later.

Explore Pet Insurance

Consider investing in pet insurance that covers diagnostic procedures like CT scans. While it involves regular premium payments, insurance can provide financial relief when unexpected veterinary expenses arise, making providing necessary care for your pet easier.

Utilizing Veterinary Teaching Hospitals

Veterinary teaching hospitals associated with universities often offer various services, including advanced diagnostic imaging like CT scans. These facilities may have lower fees than private clinics while providing access to skilled veterinary specialists and state-of-the-art equipment.

Investigate Non-Profit Organizations

Some non-profit organizations and charities dedicated to animal welfare offer financial assistance or grants to pet owners facing high veterinary costs. Research local and national organizations that can provide support.

Discuss Options with your Veterinarian

Open communication with your veterinarian is crucial. Discuss your financial concerns and explore potential cost-saving options. Your vet can recommend alternative diagnostic approaches for treatment plans that align with your budget.

Prioritize your Pet’s Health

While it’s essential to manage costs, never compromise your pet’s health. If a CT scan is medically necessary, prioritize your dog’s well-being. Declaring or forgoing essential diagnostic procedures can lead to prolonged suffering and more significant expenses.

What to Expect During and After the CT Scan

Facing a CT scan for your dog can be a daunting experience, but understanding what to expect during and after the procedure can help alleviate anxiety and ensure a smooth process.

The Day of the CT Scan

Pre-Scan Preparations

Your veterinarian will provide instructions on preparing your dog for the CT scan. This may include fasting before the procedure or discontinuing certain medications. Follow these guidelines carefully to ensure the scan’s accuracy.

Arrival at the Clinic

On the day of the scan, arrive at the veterinary clinic at the scheduled time. You may have to fill out paperwork and provide your dog’s medical history.

Discussion with Veterinarian

You’ll likely have a pre-scan consultation with your veterinarian. This is an opportunity to discuss any concerns, ask questions, and understand the procedure in detail.

Sedation or Anesthesia

Depending on your dog’s temperament and the specific area being scanned, sedation or anesthesia may be administered to ensure your dog remains calm during the procedure.

The CT Scan Procedure

During the CT scan, your dog lies on a table that moves through the CT machine. Your pet needs to remain as still as possible to obtain clear images. The procedure typically lasts a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the scanned area.

Post-Scan Care


After the CT scan, your dog will be closely monitored as it recovers from sedation or anesthesia. Some dogs may be a bit groggy or disoriented immediately after the procedure.

Home Care

Your veterinarian will provide instructions for post-scan care, including any medications your dog may need or restrictions on activity.

Receiving the Results

Image Processing

A radiologist or veterinary specialist processes the raw CT scan images to create detailed, interpretable images.


Once the images are processed, a radiologist or specialist reviews and interprets the findings. Depending on the clinic’s resources and the case's complexity, this process may take a few hours to a day.

Discussions with your Veterinarian

Your veterinarian will communicate the results of the CT scan to you. This discussion may happen in person or over the phone, depending on the clinic’s protocol and your preferences.

Next Steps Based on the Results

Treatment Planning

Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate treatment plan depending on the CT scan results. This may include surgery, medical management, further diagnostic tests, or monitoring.

Follow-Up Care

Your dog’s condition and treatment plan will determine the need for follow-up care. Some cases may require additional CT scans to monitor progress or make treatment adjustments.

Medication and Post-Surgical Care

If surgery is recommended, you’ll receive guidance on post-operative care, including medications, wound care, and activity restrictions.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Depending on the diagnosis, you may need to make lifestyle adjustments for your dogs, such as changes in diet, exercise, or medication administration.


Alternative Diagnostic Methods

While CT Scans are powerful diagnostic tools, alternative imaging methods may be recommended in specific situations, each with advantages and limitations.


X-rays are a widely used diagnostic tool in veterinary medicine. They are relatively quick and cost-effective, making them suitable for initial evaluations of bone fractures, assessing the size and shape of organs, and detecting abnormalities such as foreign objects or lung conditions. However, X-rays provide two-dimensional images, which may lack the detail and precision of CT scans. In some cases, more complex situations may require additional imaging techniques for a comprehensive diagnosis.


MRIs capture detailed soft tissue images, making them ideal for assessing neurological disorders, brain and spinal cord issues, and soft tissue injuries. They do not involve ionizing radiation, which can benefit patients with sensitivities to radiation. However, MRIs are often more expensive than CT scans and may take longer to complete. They also require the patient to remain still during the procedure, which may sometimes necessitate sedation or anesthesia.


Ultrasound imaging is a non-invasive and radiation-free diagnostic method that uses high-frequency sound waves to create real-time images of internal structures. Ultrasounds are useful for evaluating abdominal organs, monitoring pregnancies, and identifying fluid-filled masses. They are generally more affordable than CT scans and MRIs. However, ultrasounds have limitations in assessing bony structures and may not provide the detail needed for specific conditions. In some cases, veterinarians may recommend complementary imaging, such as CT scans, for a more comprehensive evaluation.


In veterinary care, you can’t overstate the diagnostic value of CT scans for our canine companions. These advanced imaging tools provide unparalleled insights into a dog’s internal structures, enabling veterinarians to pinpoint issues precisely. CT scans have proven indispensable in ensuring optimal dog health, from detecting tumors and fractures to evaluating soft tissue abnormalities and complex medical conditions.

As pet owners, we desire the well-being of our furry friends. Making informed decisions about their healthcare includes understanding the importance of diagnostic procedures like CT scans. While costs and potential alternatives may weigh on our minds, it’s essential to prioritize our pets’ health and trust in the expertise of veterinary professionals.

Insurance Ranked

Insurance Ranked

World Class Writers From Insurance Ranked

At Insurance Ranked we hire the best writing talent to provide you with articles tailored to your specific financial needs.

The Latest Articles

Read Articles