Pet Care Blog

How Much Does a Dog MRI Cost?

Dr. Ricky Walther, DVM
Contributions by Kari Steere
woman getting mri for dog

Understanding the cost of an MRI for dogs is crucial for pet owners who want to ensure the best possible care for their furry friends. Whether your dog is showing signs of a serious health issue or your vet has recommended an MRI for a thorough diagnosis, knowing what to expect financially can help you prepare.

This article will explore the cost of an MRI for dogs, why this imaging test might be needed, and how pet insurance can play a vital role in managing such expenses.

Table of Contents:

What is an MRI and Why Might Your Dog Need One?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of the body. MRIs provide a clearer picture of soft tissues than other types of imaging tests— like X-Rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds — making them particularly useful for diagnosing conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, muscles, and joints.

Common conditions that might lead vets to recommend an MRI scan for dogs include:

  • Neurological disorders: Seizures, strokes, or unexplained changes in behavior.
  • Spinal issues: Spinal cord injuries, herniated disks, or chronic pain.
  • Meningitis: Inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
  • Joint problems: Unexplained lameness or joint abnormalities.
  • Degenerative conditions: Such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).
  • Tumors: Both benign and malignant soft tissue growths that are not easily accessible by other imaging methods.
  • Orthopedic conditions: Broken bones and developmental abnormalities.

Because MRIs for dogs are expensive, your vet will likely try to diagnose their condition using other methods first.

Average Cost of MRI for Dogs

On average, dog MRI costs range between $2,000 to $6,000. Prices can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the location of the clinic, the type of facility, and the complexity of the dog's condition.

$2,000 - $6,000
average cost of a dog MRI

Factors Influencing the Price:

So, what else affects the dog MRI costs? Here are additional price variables to be aware of:

Location: Veterinary costs can vary significantly by region. Urban areas with higher living costs generally have higher veterinary fees.

Clinic Type: Specialty veterinary hospitals may charge more than general practices due to advanced equipment and specialized staff. Low-cost welfare clinics may offer more affordable rates,

Dog’s Condition: The severity and complexity of the condition being diagnosed can impact the cost. More complex cases may require additional imaging sequences or longer MRI sessions.

vets reviewing dog mri

Breaking Down the Expenses

Dog MRIs are expensive because the imaging equipment is very sophisticated.

Most local vets lack such high-tech machinery in their practice and, therefore, typically refer clients to specialists or animal hospitals with dedicated radiologists on site.MRIs are also more complex than other imaging tests and require sedation, which necessitates pre- and post-care.

When considering the overall cost of an MRI for your dog, it's essential to understand the various components that contribute to the final bill.Here is a detailed breakdown of potential expenses:

  • Consultations with Specialists ($250 - $500+): If a specialist is required to interpret the MRI results or provide treatment recommendations.
  • Pre-Anesthesia Testing ($50 - $150): Blood work and other tests to ensure your dog can safely undergo anesthesia.
  • Anesthesia ($200 - $500): Administering and monitoring anesthesia during the procedure.
  • MRI Procedure ($2,000 - $4,000): The base cost of the MRI scan itself.
  • Multiple Images ($2,000 - $4,000): The price of a dog MRI is per location, so if your vet recommends scanning two areas — such as the brain and the spine — it could double the cost.
  • Veterinarian Fees ($75 - $200): Fees for the veterinary specialist interpreting the MRI results.
  • Hospitalization ($300 - $800): In some cases, your dog may need to stay overnight for monitoring and IV fluids.
  • Follow-Up Care ($100 - $3,000+): Additional consultations or treatments based on MRI findings.

Get expert guidance to find the best pet insurance for your best friend.

Dog MRI Costs with Pet Insurance vs Without

The out-of-pocket cost of a dog MRI can be daunting, but pet insurance can significantly reduce this financial burden. Many pet insurance plans cover diagnostic imaging, including MRIs, either fully or partially, depending on the policy.

Costs with Pet Insurance:

With a comprehensive pet insurance policy, the cost of an MRI can be much more manageable. Policy deductibles usually range between $0 and $500, with reimbursement rates up to 100% of eligible expenses.

Depending on your coverage, you might only need to pay a small deductible or a percentage of the total cost. For example, a policy with 90% coverage and a $250 deductible could reduce a $5,000 vet bill to just a few hundred dollars.

[($5,000 - $250 deductible) x 10% co-insurance] = $425 out-of-pocket

Pet insurance can also help cover the cost of treating medical issues the MRI may detect, including:

  • Surgical procedures
  • Prescription medications
  • Chemotherapy and radiation
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Follow-up tests

Pet insurance only covers unexpected medical issues that arise after enrollment. You can't get coverage for a current condition by signing up for a plan after your pet has displayed symptoms. However, you can still get insurance for financial protection from unrelated issues that may arise later on.

Kari Steere
Licensed Insurance Producer

Out-of-Pocket Costs Without Insurance:

Without insurance, you are responsible for the entire cost of the MRI, which can range from $2,000 to $6,000 or more. This expense is on top of any additional costs for pre-anesthesia testing, anesthesia, and follow-up care.


Real-life stories of dog owners who have benefited from pet insurance during an MRI procedure can illustrate the potential savings and peace of mind. Here are a couple of testimonials:

Testimonial 1:

Sarah's Story: "When my Labrador, Max, started having seizures, our vet recommended an MRI. The cost was overwhelming, but thankfully, our pet insurance covered 90% of the bill. Without insurance, we would have struggled to afford the necessary care for Max."

Testimonial 2:

Tom's Experience: "Our French Bulldog, Bella, developed a spinal issue that required an MRI. The insurance covered the procedure and the subsequent surgery, saving us thousands of dollars. The investment in pet insurance was worth every penny."

How Much a Dog MRI Costs in the Long Run

When evaluating the cost of an MRI for your dog, it's important to consider the long-term financial implications of dog healthcare without insurance. Medical expenses for pets can add up quickly, especially if your dog develops a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment and monitoring.

Long-Term Financial Implications:

Chronic Conditions: Dogs with chronic illnesses may need multiple MRIs over their lifetime, significantly increasing the total cost of care.

Unexpected Emergencies: Emergency situations often come with high costs, and having insurance can provide peace of mind.

Preventive Care: Regular check-ups and preventive care can help catch issues early, potentially reducing the need for expensive diagnostic procedures.

Wrapping Up

Understanding the cost of an MRI for dogs and being prepared for unexpected medical expenses is crucial for pet owners. Pet insurance can alleviate the financial burden and ensure that your dog receives the best possible care when it needs it most.

If you're concerned about the potential costs of veterinary care, consider getting a pet insurance quote today. It can provide peace of mind and financial security, allowing you to focus on what matters most — keeping your furry friend healthy and happy.

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Ricky Walther, DVM

Dr. Ricky Walther

Ricky Walther, DVM, is a small animal general practitioner in the greater Sacramento, California area. Realizing the positive financial and medical impact that pet insurance can provide for pet parents and the profession, he lends support and advice to companies like Pawlicy Advisor "The Pet Insurance Marketplace") that simplify the process of connecting with veterinary financing resources.

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