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5 Tips to Prepare Your Dog for a Stomach X-Ray: Vet Approved Advice

Written by: Kit Copson

Last Updated on July 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

doctor examining pet radiograph

5 Tips to Prepare Your Dog for a Stomach X-Ray: Vet Approved Advice


Dr. Lorna Whittemore  Photo


Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If your vet wants to get a clearer picture of what’s going on in your dog’s stomach or abdomen, they may conduct a stomach X-ray. X-rays (radiographs) help your vet determine if your dog has swallowed a foreign object or has any broken bones, fractures, enlarged organs, tumors, and more. Further testing may be required in conjunction with X-rays to reach a diagnosis.

To check your dog’s stomach, your vet will perform what’s called an abdominal X-ray, which checks the stomach and surrounding organs of the abdomen including the liver, intestines, bladder, kidneys, prostate gland, or uterus.

When it comes to preparing for a dog stomach X-ray, your vet will advise you on any specific preparations needed. However, if your vet has plans to conduct an X-ray and you need a refresher on what to expect, check out these tips.

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The 5 Tips to Prepare Your Dog for a Stomach X-Ray

1. Changes in Condition

In the days leading up to the X-ray, your vet may ask you to monitor your dog for any changes in their behavior. You’ll want to look for things like changes in eating habits, activity levels (are they more lethargic than usual?), and if they seem to be in any discomfort.

It’s good to update your vet on changes like these to help them get a better idea of what might be going on.

sad and sick labrador retriever dog
Image By: My July, Shutterstock

2. Preparing Your Dog

Your veterinary clinic will give you advice on preparing your dog so take note of this. It may include being starved overnight for an anesthetic. They may give you a time that you need to be at the clinic and when to collect your pet afterward.

Follow any instructions you have been given to enable the vets to get the best results. 

3. Preparing for the Vet Visit

Some dogs aren’t bothered at all by vet waiting rooms whereas others become anxious. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash in the waiting room and perhaps bring along a favorite toy to help distract them.

If your dog gets especially anxious at the vet clinic, it’s worth asking your vet if you can wait in the car until it’s your turn to be called.

dog owner talking to vet
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

4. Preparing for the Cost

When it comes to vet fees, they can be a major worry for pet parents. Like many procedures, X-rays are a financial investment. X-rays typically cost anywhere between $100 and $400, though this can vary.

If you’re worried about how you’re going to afford the procedure, discuss your concerns with your vet. You can ask for an estimate of the cost before the procedure. If you have pet insurance this is something that may be covered in your policy. Vets are used to discussing costs and will be able to advise on any payment options available.

5. The Process

Understanding the procedure before it happens is a good way to ease any worries you may have and prepare for what will happen once you arrive at the clinic.

It’s important that your dog stays still during the X-ray procedure, so most vets administer a sedative or anesthetic. Your vet will then position your dog so they can get the best possible images and finally use special equipment to perform the X-ray procedure.

The vet may reposition your dog a few times in order to get multiple images from different angles, thereby allowing them to collect more detailed information. The procedure is painless for your dog, so don’t worry.

X-rays are not considered harmful to dogs because radiation exposure is limited. However, because of the use of radiation, they’re only performed occasionally and only as a means of diagnosis. An ultrasound is more often used for determining pregnancy in dogs.

On a final note, you will not be allowed to enter the imaging room with your dog for safety reasons.

nurse performing xray of dog in the clinic
Image Credit: Image Source Trading Ltd, Shutterstock

6. Possible Findings

If your dog has been feeling unwell, you’re likely in the process of mentally preparing for what the X-ray may find. X-rays are used to diagnose a wide range of conditions and injuries in dogs. Your vet will have discussed the reasons for the x-ray and what they will be looking for.

These are examples (not an exhaustive list) of what can be seen on X-ray:
  • Swallowed foreign objects
  • Bladder stones
  • Kidney stones
  • Tumors
  • Broken bones
  • Soft tissue Injuries
  • Enlarged organs

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Final Thoughts

To recap, abdominal X-rays include screening the stomach and surrounding organs. The procedure is used as a diagnostic tool for abdominal injuries and health conditions. If you have any concerns about your dog getting an X-ray, please share your concerns with your vet who can best prepare you for what to expect.

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Featured Image Credit: Yakov Oskanov, Shutterstock

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