How much does a dog MRI cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does a dog MRI cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does a dog MRI cost?

$2,500 – $3,500 average total cost at a vet’s office
$3,000 – $6,000 average total cost at a veterinary hospital

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$2,500 – $3,500 average total cost at a vet’s office

$3,000 – $6,000 average total cost at a veterinary hospital

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tamatha Hazen
Written by
Tamatha Hazen
Edited by
Tara Farmer
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

Average dog MRI cost

A dog MRI costs $2,500 to $3,500 at a vet’s office or $3,000 to $6,000 at a specialty veterinary hospital. The cost of the dog MRI scan itself is around $2,000 to $2,500, but bloodwork and a chest X-ray before the scan, anesthesia during the procedure, and post-op care increase the total cost.

Average dog MRI cost by facility
Facility type Average total procedure cost
Veterinarian’s office /clinic $2,500 – $3,500
Specialty veterinary hospital $3,000 – $6,000
Standalone imaging center $2,500 – $5,000
Veterinary teaching hospital $2,500 – $4,000

Veterinary office MRI

Veterinary offices and clinics typically offer lower-cost MRI options ranging from $2,500 to $3,500. These facilities often utilize lower-field MRI machines that produce lower-quality images compared to more advanced equipment. Scans performed at a veterinary office may need to be sent out to an external radiologist for interpretation, which can increase the overall cost.

Specialty veterinary hospital

Specialty veterinary hospitals tend to have the highest MRI costs, generally between $3,000 and $6,000. These advanced facilities typically have the latest high-field MRI technology and board-certified radiologists on staff to provide expert interpretations. The high costs reflect the superior imaging capabilities and specialized expertise.

Standalone imaging center

Standalone imaging centers offer a middle-ground option, with dog MRI costs typically ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. Though these facilities have dedicated imaging equipment and radiologists, they have lower overhead expenses compared to large specialty hospitals, making them a more affordable alternative.

Veterinary teaching hospital

Veterinary teaching hospitals associated with universities sometimes provide discounted MRI services priced between $2,500 and $4,000. These lower costs are possible because the procedures serve an instructional purpose for veterinary students.

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What is a dog MRI?

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) for a dog is an advanced diagnostic imaging technique that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to generate high-resolution, cross-sectional images of the body. It provides detailed images of the internal structures and soft tissues of the body, such as the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and organs.

MRIs help diagnose:

  • Brain disorders, including tumors, brain swelling, stroke, and infection.

  • Spinal cord issues such as herniated discs, spinal cord degeneration, spinal cord tumors, stenosis, and nerve compression.

  • Musculoskeletal conditions like ligament or tendon tears, joint instability, chronic joint pain, and soft tissue masses.

Why would my dog need an MRI?

Your vet may recommend an MRI for your dog when other regular tests can't identify the cause of symptoms like seizures, trouble walking, paralysis, or persistent pain. The highly detailed MRI images can help pinpoint the underlying issue and guide treatment planning.

A dog resting on an MRI table before receiving anesthesia for the imaging procedure
A dog resting on an MRI table before receiving anesthesia for the imaging procedure

Dog MRI cost breakdown

The cost of a dog MRI includes more than just the imaging scan. Pet owners must also pay for an initial vet office visit, bloodwork, and a chest X-ray to confirm the dog is healthy enough for anesthesia. Other common costs include post-procedure care, specialist fees, and potential hospitalization costs.

Dog MRI cost breakdown
Item Average cost*
MRI scan $2,000 – $2,500
Vet office visit cost $40 – $80
Pre-MRI bloodwork $100 – $200
Chest X-ray $150 – $250
Sedation / anesthesia $200 – $500
Post-op care $100 – $200+
Overnight hospitalization (if needed) $100 – $600+
Radiologist analysis (if needed) $150 – $350+

*Average prices for general vet practices.

Alternative imaging costs

An MRI is often recommended when previous imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds fail to provide a clear diagnosis. These more routine procedures are typically used first to rule out or identify certain conditions before considering the advanced imaging capabilities of an MRI.

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Dog imaging cost by type
X-ray / imaging type Average cost* Description and purpose
Standard dog X-ray cost $150 – $250 Traditional film-based imaging that captures internal structures like bones, joints, organs, and soft tissues to detect fractures, arthritis, tumors, foreign objects, etc.
Contrast Radiography $200 – $500 Uses contrast agents to highlight specific areas or structures within the body on the X-ray, such as the gastrointestinal tract or blood vessels
Fluoroscopy $300 – $800 Provides real-time X-ray visualization of moving internal structures during procedures or examinations
CT Scan $500 – $1,500 Computerized X-ray procedure that creates detailed cross-sectional images of the body, useful for imaging the brain, spine, organs, and soft tissues
Dog ultrasound cost $300 – $600+ Not an X-ray, but an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images of internal structures, useful for evaluating soft tissues, organs, and blood flow

*Per image or procedure

Canine MRI cost factors

The cost of a dog MRI can vary significantly depending on several factors:

  • Facility type: Specialized veterinary hospitals or imaging centers typically charge more for MRIs than general veterinary clinics.

  • Geographic location: MRIs in urban areas or major cities tend to be more expensive than those in rural areas.

  • Number of scans: The vet may need to scan multiple areas of the body, increasing costs.

  • MRI type: High-field MRI machines, used by veterinary hospitals and specialty centers, produce higher-quality images but are more expensive than low-field MRI machines found in veterinary practices and clinics.

  • Contrast: MRIs with contrast typically cost more than MRIs without contrast for dogs. The extra cost is due to the price of the contrast agent and the additional time required for the scan.

  • Sedation & monitoring: Dogs typically require general anesthesia to remain still during the MRI procedure. Additional costs may apply for sedatives, IV fluids, and monitoring during and after the procedure.

  • Radiologist fees: The fees charged by the radiologist interpreting the MRI images contribute to the overall cost and vary by provider and location.

  • Additional tests: If additional tests or procedures are required before or after the MRI, the costs will increase accordingly.

  • Blood work: The average cost of blood work for a dog before an MRI scan is $100 to $200 for a routine test that includes a CBC and chemistry panel.


Does pet insurance cover an MRI for a dog?

Yes, most pet insurance policies help cover the costs of diagnostics like MRIs, as well as any necessary anesthesia, IV fluids, hospitalization, and follow-up care related to the procedure. Pet insurance costs $35 to $75 per month for dogs, depending on the plan type and coverage details.

How long does a dog MRI take?

A dog MRI typically takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete. However, the entire process from admission to discharge can take 6 to 8 hours, including recovery from anesthesia.

Is a dog MRI worth it?

Despite the high cost, a dog MRI is worth it as it allows your vet to accurately diagnose issues like brain tumors, spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions, and other problems that may otherwise go undetected.

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Can you take a dog MRI without sedation?

Yes, it is possible to perform an MRI on a dog without sedation or general anesthesia, but it requires extensive training for the dog to remain completely still during the scan and is, therefore not a widely adopted clinical practice.

Questions to ask your vet about a dog MRI

Ask your vet these questions when scheduling your dog for an MRI:

  • What condition is the MRI intended to diagnose or evaluate?

  • Is an MRI the best diagnostic tool for these symptoms?

  • How long will the entire MRI process take, including preparation and recovery time?

  • Will my dog need to be put under general anesthesia for the MRI? What are the risks involved?

  • How will you ensure my dog's safety and comfort during the procedure?

  • How soon after the MRI can I expect to receive the results and findings?

  • Will a specialist radiologist review and interpret the MRI images?

  • What is the estimated cost for my dog's MRI scan, and can payment plans be arranged?

  • Will the MRI be covered under my pet insurance policy? Are there any exclusions I should be aware of?

  • If my dog is not a suitable candidate for an MRI under anesthesia, what other diagnostic options are available?

  • Depending on the MRI findings, what potential treatment options may be recommended?

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