The cost of a dog MRI depends on many things. First, let’s talk a little bit about what MRI is. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a completely non-invasive, pain-free way of looking at the internal structures of the body. It uses an extraordinarily strong magnet and highly specialized equipment to do so. The patient lies in the center of the magnet and must remain totally still.
How Is MRI Different from X-ray or CT Scan?
Radiographs (X-rays) are relatively quick and inexpensive tests that provide a broad look at the internal structures of the body. Air is dark. Bone and metal are white. Tissues such as muscle, the heart, stomach and spleen are all similar shades of gray. And since X-rays only generate a two-dimensional picture, the organs overlap.
Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-rays and a computer to make a “slice” through the body. This eliminates the organ overlap problem in radiographs, but it does not improve the poor tissue resolution. It remains challenging to see small changes in tissues, such as in the brain or spinal cord, when all soft tissue is a similar shade of gray.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can look at the body using different “pulse sequences” that accentuate various types of tissues, providing much better tissue resolution. MRIs can show many diseases that CT scans will miss, including:
- Small tumors
Sometimes, CT scans can even misdiagnose benign processes as being serious, leading to unnecessary treatment or worse, euthanasia.
Why Is MRI More Expensive for My Dog than for Me?
Some pet owners have said, “I can get an MRI myself for less!” This may be true, but there are reasonable explanations.
First, most human facilities are reimbursed by insurance companies.
Second, most human facilities perform 30 or more MRIs every day. Unfortunately, the considerable costs of an MRI machine and its upkeep are the same for a veterinary facility that is only performing two or three MRIs a day.
Third, when MRI is performed on a human, anesthesia is not required, whereas it is necessary for a pet MRI. This calls for additional medications, monitoring equipment, staff, and expertise.
But Why Does the Cost of a Dog MRI Vary?
As mentioned, the cost of a dog MRI depends on many factors. Here are a few things for pet owners to consider in order to be able to compare “apples to apples:”
What Type of MRI Is Being Performed?
In general, there are two types of MRI used in veterinary medicine: low-field and high-field. Most specialty veterinary hospitals use high-field MRI, but there are still some low-field MRI providers out there. While both are incredible technology, high-field MRI has major advantages.
First, it is faster. This means your pet does not have to be anesthetized as long. Second, it provides much greater detail. This shows the veterinary neurologist a clearer picture and leads to a more accurate diagnosis.
At Southeast Veterinary Neurology, we frequently review CT scans and MRIs performed at other facilities that gave the incorrect diagnosis.
What Is Included in the MRI Quote?
Sometimes, when a facility quotes the price of MRI for your dog, they are not including the “all in” price. They may only quote the price of the MRI and not the additional items that are needed to perform the MRI, such as:
- Physical examination
- Neurological examination by a neurologist
- Blood tests and X-rays to ensure that anesthesia is safe for your pet
- IV catheter
- Monitoring of anesthesia
Additionally, the type of anesthesia and quality of anesthetic monitoring can vary widely. At Southeast Veterinary Neurology, we use specialized, MRI-safe anesthetic monitoring equipment that allows us to monitor multiple parameters, such as heart rate, oxygen levels, CO2 levels, blood pressure, temperature, etc.
What is the Geographic Location?
In general, places with a higher cost of living, such as California, New York City, and South Florida tend to be more expensive. At the same time, these places also tend to attract the best talent.
So What Does a Dog MRI Cost?
Other than the need for anesthesia, the only downside to MRI is that it is not cheap. Around the country, the cost of a dog MRI can vary depending on the complexity of the required images, the size of your dog, whether any other tests are needed, and several other factors like those mentioned earlier.
When someone calls us about the fees associated with imaging, we always provide the high end of an estimate so there are no surprises later. However, the average “all in” cost at Southeast Veterinary Neurology is around $5,000.
The good news is that most pet insurance plans cover imaging.
How Do I Choose the Right Dog MRI Provider?
Deciding to go through with MRI for your dog comes down to one thing. Sure, cost is a consideration, and it’s the reason you’re reading this. But in the end, is it really the deciding factor? If you’re like us, the only price you can put on what your dog is worth to you is priceless.
If you’re going to invest anything at all in your dog’s health, put it under anesthesia, and possibly even through surgery, the only thing that really matters is that you feel wholeheartedly comfortable with the team you entrust with your dog’s life. After all, MRI isn’t the end of your dog’s health inquiry; it’s only the beginning of a journey. So, do you want the best price, or do you want the best care?
Why Should I consider Southeast Veterinary Neurology for My Dog’s MRI?
At Southeast Veterinary Neurology, we accept nothing less than excellence from our entire team. From the customer service representative you speak to on the phone, to the neurologist who handles your case, to the veterinary technician who comforts your pet, you will be met with unmatched expertise and genuine compassion every step of the way. Neurology isn’t just something we offer. Neurology is our passion and exclusively what we do 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
That’s right. We are never closed, we are never without a neurologist, and we are never too busy to help. So unlike most other facilities, your pet will never have to wait for treatment. This is because at Southeast Veterinary Neurology, we understand that for many neurological conditions, timely treatment can mean the difference between recovery and permanent damage, or even between life and death.
If you are considering MRI, please don’t delay. You can call us right now at our Miami, Boynton Beach, Jupiter or Virginia Beach location. Our knowledgeable, sympathetic, and available patient care coordinator will walk you through everything you need to know about a dog MRI. We’ve got your dog’s back… and brain, and muscles, and nerves. We promise.