Why pet xrays are important
Check for genetic irregularities
Certain dog breeds are predisposed to spinal irregularities!
If you have a pug, french bulldog, basset hound, or dachshund (or anything chondrodysplastic for that matter)... it might be in your best interest to talk to your vet about routine spinal xrays.
Pictured is a normal CT scan of a normal dog (left) and a CT scan of a french bulldog (right.)
Due to genetics, chondrodysplastic breeds are known for abnormalities of the spine. Vertebrae often don't form correctly, and instead can develop into half and/or fused vertebrae. These are called congenital blocks or hemivertebrae and, when present, it can cause premature degenerative changes in your animal's spine.
Routine xrays can help be better adjust your animal and monitor further degenerative change.
Monitor degenerative change
Spinal arthritis is just like a dental cavity... without treatment, the condition will worsen.
There are things we can do to slow the progress of degeneration (like getting adjusted), but in order to truly understand your pet's structure, I recommend routine spinal xrays to stay abreast of the bony remodeling that is taking place.
Consider that every 1 year of your pet's life is equivalent to 7 dog years. If you have a pet with a known degenerative disorder, a lot can change in that time span.
When it comes to x-rays: "To see is to know, to not see is to guess. And guessing is not what's best."
Monitor growth plates
Growth plates are an important window into assessing skeletal maturity
Many dogs with a propensity for genetic musculoskeletal disorders can be monitored with xray to see if a disorder is developing or if interventions are warranted.
Puppy bones are so dynamic as they make the transfer from pliable cartilage into rigid bone. Future chronic disorders can often be "course corrected" if caught early during this growth phase.
Many times, if I can address a "possible musculoskeletal issue" before the bones fuse, I can help to prevent a lot of future pain and discomfort.
For example: If your vet tells you that your puppy still has "open growth plates" and you are worried about future hip dysplasia, please give me a call asap. We can help your dog so much more while the skeleton is still malleable!
Organs and masses
Did you know xrays reveal information about bodily systems other than just the bones?
I mostly keep my sights on the spine, however, I always value looking at thoracic and lumbar films as the shadows of the organs can provide valuable insight into the internal health of your animal.
Your animal care team can utilize whole body xrays in order to rule out, check for, and measure any abnormal growths in your pet.
Xrays help us evaluate: the heart, the lungs, the intestines, the stomach, the uterus, and many other organs of your pet's body.