But a busy veterinary practice in Cork has now become one of only a handful in the country to offer a full MRI scan to pets.
The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner uses magnetic and radio waves to take pictures of the inside of the body.
Such a scan was previously only available to pets at the veterinary school in University College Dublin.
But Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital is now offering the same service at its clinic on Vicar’s Road in Cork and it put its first patients through the device last Friday.
MRI scans are particularly useful for imaging brain and spinal cord conditions, for disorders of muscles and joints, cardiovascular and oncological (cancer) conditions.
MRI has specific advantages over other diagnostic procedures as it is a safe and non-invasive procedure, and offers detailed anatomical and functional information about the area under investigation.
Veterinary surgeon Shane Guerin, one of five working at Gilabbey, described the service as a major development for the practice and said it will offer huge benefits to pets in the region.
“It will allow us to complete diagnosis on animals in areas where we can’t confirm a diagnosis with blood tests or X-rays,” he said.
The pet scanner is housed in a 30-foot mobile unit which will visit the Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital on a monthly basis. The practice had to upgrade its electricity supply to cater for the scanner.
Mr Guerin said it is hoped the scanner will visit the clinic more regularly, maybe once a week, as it develops.
The device can accommodate various sized animals as large as a cheetah. The hour-long procedure costs up to €1,000.
Vets from across Munster have been invited to refer their patients for scanning appointments where applicable.
Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital is one of the city’s busiest practices, taking referrals from all over Munster.
The five-vet practice, owned by veterinary surgeons Tom Conway, Pat O’Doherty and Shane Guerin, also does a lot of work for Fota Wildlife Park.