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Pet Insurance 101

How much does a dog MRI cost?

Veterinary medicine is constantly evolving to offer our pets better treatments and, as such, better chances at living longer, healthier lives. One way this is possible is through the advancement of diagnostic tests.

Take MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), for example. These tests allow us to see what’s going on inside a body (human or pet) in a non-invasive way. MRIs play an important role in investigating injuries and illnesses, since our best four-legged friends can’t tell us when they’re not feeling great. Unfortunately, dog MRI scans are costly. The cost of an MRI for a dog can average of $2,000 or more*, which is a lot to pay out of pocket if you don't have a pet insurance plan. Fetch Pet Insurance covers the cost of an MRI for a dog or cat.

How does an MRI work?

An MRI machine is a large tube-like structure that uses both magnetic fields and radio waves to create images that veterinary specialists can then interpret.** Dog and human MRIs are similar in that patients (or pet patients) must lie very still in the MRI machine, sometimes for over an hour. If you’ve ever asked a dog or cat to sit still for more than a few seconds, then you won’t be surprised to learn that general anesthesia is often required for our pets to have an MRI scan done.

Preparing your dog for an MRI checklist

❏ Talk to your vet about the advantages and disadvantages, including risks of anesthesia and cost.

❏ Make an appointment for a neurology consultation at a specialty hospital.

❏ Plan for blood work before the dog MRI.

❏ Prepare for a long day – the procedure time and hospitalization could take a while.

❏ Submit a pre-authorization request if your pet is already enrolled in an insurance policy. This request will verify coverage before the MRI is performed, so there aren’t any surprises in coverage afterwards.

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Recommended by vet Dr. Evan Antin.

What does a dog MRI show us?

Dog MRI scans are ideal for assessing what’s going on with the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons and abdominal organs. The MRI offers a more detailed picture compared to other imaging technology, such as radiographs.**

If your pet suffers from symptoms such as seizures, lameness or limping, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, paralysis or behavioral issues, then your veterinarian may recommend an MRI.

Conditions commonly diagnosed by an MRI:

  • Brain diseases detected by abscesses, inflammation or a tumor/mass
  • Spinal cord diseases detected by herniated discs, stenosis or a tumor/mass
  • Diseases of the abdomen detected by organ enlargement or tumor/mass
  • Musculoskeletal diseases detected by soft tissue injuries such as shoulder instability and cruciate ligament rupture

Comprehensive pet insurance to the rescue

The cost of a dog neurologist without insurance can be incredibly expensive. Fetch Pet Insurance covers dog MRIs, so you have peace of mind when faced with dog CT scan costs or the cost of dog MRIs. Take this example.

 At 12 years old, Fred,†** a West Highland White Terrier, started having seizures. A neurologist recommended an MRI, and a mass was found in Fred’s brain. This meant that Fred could start the appropriate therapy right away, which would help improve his quality of life.

Fred already had a Fetch Pet Insurance policy which covered all the diagnostics and treatments his vet recommended, including the MRI. Pet insurance is evolving to meet our needs, and could even help with the cost of advanced imaging diagnostics. Most pet insurance companies cover this service for injuries or illnesses (as long as they aren’t for a pre-existing condition). 

Fred’s parents were faced with the tough decision to get him the MRI he needed, but take on the large bill that came with it. Thankfully, Fred was protected with Fetch Pet Insurance, which meant the freedom to say yes to the very best care – his parents were reimbursed $10,989!‡ Imaging diagnostics such as MRI may be able to create a clearer picture about your sick pet’s injury or illness.

*According to Fetch Pet Insurance claims data.

**Merck Veterinary Manual

†Names have been changed to protect privacy.

‡According to a Fetch Pet Insurance paid claim in 2018 in accordance with policy specifications.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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