Pet X-Ray & Imaging

Imaging can be necessary in diagnosing what is wrong with your pet. Ultrasound and X-rays are different types of imaging that “see” different things.

a dog in a CT scan machine

Comprehensive Pet X-Ray & Imaging

X-ray is excellent for imaging bone, of course, but is also good at imaging 2-dimensions of organs and other “soft tissue” and through air-filled structures such as lungs and the intestinal tract.

X-ray is an excellent way to image some foreign materials inside the body, such as bullets, stones, metal, and some other materials. For soft items such as fabrics, wood, leather, and plastics, we can use barium, a special material that is swallowed, to outline these foreign materials in the intestinal tract.

Alpine utilizes the best-quality modern imaging equipment with high-resolution digital x-ray and ultrasound machines. Digital X-rays are far more detailed than old technology using film, which has to be developed. The new digital X-ray also uses lower radiation, which is safer for your pet and our staff at Alpine Animal Clinic. We can also give you all of your pet’s images on a USB thumb drive we make for you to keep for viewing at home and for your pet’s permanent medical record.


This image shows many puppies inside a pregnant dog. Look closely to see tiny skeletons within the abdomen!

X-Ray for foreign object

It’s easy to see this dog’s broken foot bones, and we use X-ray for many more things besides bones.


The 2-dimensions X-rays give you means you can see the size and shape of things but not the full 3-dimensions of any particular structure. Ultrasound also allows visualization of that 3rd dimension of soft tissues, such as the liver, kidneys, urinary bladder, or spleen, but does not image air-filled structures much. It is excellent for imaging cancerous masses, for instance, and can use specialized functions, such as Doppler, to evaluate blood flow to an area and detail how masses are growing. This can be very useful in deciding if surgery could be helpful, if growth is likely to be cancerous or not, or if a mass has spread to other organs.

Ultrasound is also helpful in obtaining a small biopsy sample of something challenging to reach, helping ensure the tissue you are sampling is the tissue you are targeting.

The patient shown to the left is comfortable in a padded bed. At the same time, Dr. Heidi Wampler images his liver, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, stomach, intestinal walls, kidneys, adrenal glands, internal lymph nodes, urinary bladder, and prostate.

Ultrasound is painless and often does not require sedation. It can provide a great deal of information quickly, painlessly, and without the risk of surgery or anesthesia.

CT Scanning (Computed Axial Tomography)

A CT scan uses X-rays to construct a picture of the internal structures and can image the entire body. It allows us to see inside the body or inside the skull in a way that regular X-rays can’t do. We can image tumors in the liver, for instance, or look inside the skull to tell us if there is a tumor or some other structural problem causing seizures or other neurologic symptoms.

Using a CT scan, we can put together a 3-D reconstruction. We can take slices through the body, like slicing through a loaf of bread, and then examine what is inside by taking out the slice. CT scans are also beneficial in looking for ruptured discs in the back and getting a better picture of what is going on in case of complicated bone fractures.

a vet getting a dog prepared for CT scan