👉 Before you dive into the article, be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms and verbiage used regularly when talking about pet insurance in our pet insurance glossary.
- Insurance usually covers imaging — Certain policies may have limitations for X-ray coverage.
- X-rays cost $80 to $400 each — These screenings can be more expensive for large dogs than for smaller pets.
- Pre-existing conditions typically aren’t covered — If your pet’s X-rays are related to a pre-existing or chronic condition, it’s unlikely that your pet insurance will cover the bill.
Whether they play a little too rough at the park or trip down the stairs, your pet’s mishaps can be painful and scary for you both. Fragile pets, like seniors or a rambunctious youngin, can be vulnerable to sprains and fractures. In these instances, X-rays may be necessary and most likely covered by pet insurance. But there are times when they may not be, so it’s important to learn the ins and outs of what your insurance will cover should the need arise.
How much do X-rays cost?
You can expect to pay $80 to $400 per X-ray, but the cost depends on several factors, including the size of your pet. If it’s for a medical emergency, you can also expect to spend more than you would at your usual vet.
- Emergencies. X-rays taken at an emergency clinic usually cost more than X-rays taken at a regular vet’s office.
- Pet size. A cat or small dog may need a few X-rays. A big dog may need several.
- Body part. Some body parts — legs or hips — require more X-rays. The chest or abdomen tends to require fewer X-rays.
- Sedation. Some pets are nervous about going to the vet and may struggle to stay still for the X-ray. If that’s the case, the vet may need to sedate the dog or cat. The visit will cost more when anesthesia and pain medication are required.
- Multiple fractures. For broken bones in multiple areas, more than one X-ray is necessary to assess the injuries. More X-rays might mean a longer visit and sedatives.
Pet insurance that covers the cost of X-rays
Pet insurance policies help keep your pet in good health. But different companies and different policies offer varying degrees of coverage. Not all companies cover the cost of X-rays. Here are some top pet insurance providers that do offer X-ray coverage:
- Healthy Paws — Healthy Paws has plans to cover X-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, and other treatments for accidents and illnesses. Pet owners can customize their plans with a $250 or $500 deductible and reimbursements at 70%, 80%, or 90%, and there’s only a 15-day waiting period.
- Pets Best — Pets Best offers dog insurance, cat insurance, and a wellness plan. Wellness plans only cover routine visits, but the company’s accident and illness policies cover X-rays for pets. Deductible options range from $50 to $1,000, and pet owners can further customize the policy by choosing reimbursement rates of 70%, 80%, or 90%.
- ASPCA — ASPCA’s accident and illness policies cover pet X-rays and other imaging. Like the previous plans, reimbursement options include 70%, 80% or 90% with a $100, $150, or $250 annual deductible. Pet owners may save money by choosing an annual maximum limit ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, but ASPCA also offers an unlimited plan.
- Fetch by the Dodo — Fetch offers coverage for imaging and ultrasounds, vet exam fees, behavioral and physical therapy, holistic care, and dental care visits. Deductible options are $250, $300, or $500, maximum limits of $5,000 or $15,000 or unlimited, and reimbursement rates of 70%, 80% or 90%.
👉 These X-rays are only covered when related to injury or illness. X-rays related to pre-existing conditions or electives during routine care won’t be covered.
Other diagnostics covered by pet insurance
Some pet insurance policies cover X-rays along with other diagnostic tests. Licensed veterinarians need to perform diagnostics, which allow them to examine the pet internally, before performing invasive surgeries and/or prescribing medications for diseases and other ailments. Diagnostic tests may be required if your pet has an accident, like breaking a bone, or has symptoms of a serious illness.
An ultrasound allows the vet to see soft tissue and fluids in the pet’s body. Ultrasounds can help detect and monitor pregnancies, but they can also be useful in assessing internal tumors and heart functions. Vets can also use them to examine internal organs for abnormalities. Ultrasounds cost around $300 to $800 each without insurance.
A CT scan compiles an image of the tissue, bones, and organs of a specific area in the pet’s body and usually requires anesthesia to keep the pet from moving during the scan. Vets typically use CT scans to get a closer look at the nasal or oral cavities, inner ears, abdomen (including lungs, chest, and spine), and extremities. Vets may use CT scans for brain analysis, also MRIs are typically preferred. CT scans cost around $1,000 to $2,000 without pet insurance.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an in-depth diagnostic test that can show a vet the soft tissue around organs and other areas inside the pet’s body. MRIs are usually used to examine the brain and spine. This type of advanced imaging can catch tiny abnormalities that can’t be seen by other diagnostic tests, like CT scans or radiographs. An MRI may also be used for pets with a seizure disorder to determine any potential causes and treatments. MRIs may cost $2,500 or more, but many pet insurance policies help cover the cost of this imaging (when not related to something pre-existing).
When does insurance not cover X-rays?
X-rays and other diagnostic imaging aren’t always covered by pet insurance. It may depend on your policy; for example, a wellness plan likely doesn’t cover more in-depth evaluations and treatments like a comprehensive plan would. Older pets or those with pre-existing conditions may not be eligible for X-ray cost coverage if it’s related to a previous issue. You may also not be eligible for coverage if you’ve recently signed up for pet insurance and are within the waiting period.
- Pre-existing conditions. Some companies or policies don’t offer coverage related to medical conditions your pet already has or had in the past. However, some policies offer a stipulation, where a past issue that’s been fully treated and healed is no longer considered pre-existing after a certain number of days (usually a full year).
- Type of coverage. The type of policy you have for your pet will also determine whether X-rays are covered. Wellness plans are a popular choice for pet parents who want to cover routine visits, but they don’t cover X-rays or other treatments related to accidents or illnesses. You’ll need a comprehensive plan for that.
- Waiting period. After signing up for a pet health insurance policy, you’ll have a waiting period before coverage kicks in. If your pet has an accident and needs an X-ray during this waiting period, you’ll need to pay out of pocket.
👉 Many pet insurance plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Learn how to get coverage for X-rays and more if your pet has previous health issues.
Be a smarter pet parent
Sign up for the best pet advice you can get
Frequently asked questions
Does insurance cover dog X-rays?
Pet insurance sometimes covers dog X-rays, but it depends on your provider and policy as well as the reason for the X-ray. If your dog needs an X-ray related to a pre-existing condition, it may not be covered by pet insurance. Also, if you’re within a waiting period shortly after signing up for a new policy, X-rays during that time likely aren’t covered.
Does pet insurance cover diagnostic tests?
Many pet insurance policies cover diagnostic tests for eligible ailments or accidents, but it ultimately depends on your policy. Be sure to talk with your pet insurance company about what is eligible for coverage based on your plan.
How much are X-rays for small dogs?
X-rays start around $80 each and are typically less expensive overall for small dogs. Large dogs may require multiple X-rays, while small dogs are usually examined with just a few X-rays.
Does pet insurance cover regular vet visits?
Most pet insurance policies cover accidents or unexpected illnesses, but many companies offer add-on wellness or preventative care plans that will also cover regular vet visits for an extra charge. You can learn more here.
What is the average cost of X-rays for a dog?
The average cost of an X-ray is $150 to $250. You may pay less, around $80, or as much as $400. Your exact costs depend on your dog’s size and the complexity of the issue that requires the X-ray. Pets that can’t sit still for the imaging procedure may also require sedation or anesthesia for an added cost.