How Much Does a Dog MRI cost?

An excellent diagnostic tool—with a hefty price tag.

The cost of a dog MRI

If your vet recommends an MRI for your dog, you’ll probably have lots of questions—like why the procedure is necessary, and how much it will cost. (Spoiler alert: It’ll run between $2,500 and $6,000, depending on various factors.)

  • On average, an MRI for a dog costs anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000. 
  • MRIs are commonly used to help vets see and diagnose tumors, broken bones, herniated disks, meningitis, and spinal cord and brain issues. 
  • A base Lemonade pet insurance policy can help cover the costs of your dog’s MRIs related to eligible accidents and illnesses.

What happens during a dog MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging, or an MRI, is a non-invasive scan that lets your vet see the internal structures of your dog’s body. 

MRIs can provide a clearer look inside your dog than some other common diagnostics, like X-rays, ultrasounds, or CT scans. That high-quality image that an MRI produces can help your vet to diagnose the cause of your dog’s health issues.

When your dog has an MRI, your pup will be sedated and placed inside a large machine that contains a giant magnet. When the machine is turned on, that magnet sends radio waves through your dog’s body, using those waves to create detailed images.

The experience might be a bit awkward, but it won’t hurt.

How much does an MRI for a dog cost? 

On average, an MRI for a dog costs anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000. 

These scans are pricey because MRI machines are very expensive to purchase, and most smaller veterinary practices don’t have the machines. Instead, your vet will probably refer you to a veterinary hospital with a diagnostic imaging department and a radiologist on staff. 

Why such a wide range? MRI costs can vary depending on the veterinary facility that you use. Don’t be afraid to shop around and get quotes from multiple locations. Your vet may already have a sense of which facilities tend to have the lowest average costs. 

What else can affect the cost of an MRI? 

Since dogs can’t hold perfectly still for the entire scan, which can take over an hour, your dog will need to be anesthetized for the MRI. 

General anesthesia costs will vary depending on your dog’s size. Additionally, the vet who oversees the procedure will probably order blood tests to confirm that your dog is healthy enough for the anesthesia. 

The facility will give you a quote for the MRI before your dog’s appointment. That quote will include other items, like any hospital stay, IV fluids and a catheter, and staff monitoring. These charges will often be separated from the cost of the MRI itself. 

Because your dog will be anesthetized, MRIs are a little more complicated than x-rays and other basic diagnostics. Your dog will be carefully monitored and will stay in the hospital until they recover from the anesthesia. 

Will pet insurance cover the cost of my dog’s MRI? 

In many cases, yes! 

A base policy with Lemonade Pet helps cover the costs of diagnostics, procedures, and medication related to unexpected and eligible accidents and illnesses. 

So, for example, pet insurance would help cover the costs of an MRI (and any necessary sedation, IV fluids, and hospitalization) if your dog was experiencing seizures, or the vet wanted a closer look at a broken bone before going in for surgery.
That said, pet insurance would probably not help cover the costs of your dog’s MRI if it is related to a pre-existing condition, or if your plan’s relevant waiting periods aren’t up yet.


When do dogs require MRIs?

Because pet MRIs are expensive, it’s unlikely that your vet will recommend a scan right away. 

Instead, your vet will probably try to diagnose your dog using other methods, like blood work or x-rays. If those attempts don’t give your vet the answers needed, your vet will consider your dog’s condition and may decide that an MRI would be helpful in finding an accurate diagnosis. 

MRIs can diagnose many potential issues: 

  • Tumors
  • Inflammation
  • Herniated discs
  • Broken bones
  • Strokes
  • Meningitis
  • Infections
  • Orthopedic issues
  • Degenerative conditions like Intervertebral Disc Disease

MRI scans are most often used to examine brain and spinal issues in dogs. This diagnostic test can also be used to identify the cause behind other issues, like knee and nerve problems. 

What will and won’t show up on an MRI?

MRIs create detailed pictures of your dog’s internal body structures. 

An MRI scan can be used for nearly any part of your dog’s body. Air and hard bone appear as black shapes, but the scan provides a highly detailed look at soft tissues, including your dog’s brain and spinal cord. 

While radiographs (aka x-rays) can also be helpful, they create a two-dimensional picture where the organs overlap. And a CT scan creates views of “slices” of your dog’s body, which can be helpful for some diagnostics, although soft tissues don’t show up clearly. 

An MRI shows tissues much more clearly, helping your vet to spot and diagnose small issues that might not show up using these other diagnostic tools. 

Before we go…

MRIs can help to identify issues that other tests, like CT scans and x-rays, don’t pick up, especially when it comes to brain or spinal issues.

These tests aren’t cheap. But investing in pet health insurance for your dog can help you to be prepared if the unexpected ever happens.

Knowing that you’ll be able to have MRIs done without worrying about the costs can be very reassuring, and it can help your vet to quickly diagnose and treat your best friend, and so you can focus on your dog’s care—not your wallet.


A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage may not be available in all states.

Paige Cerulli

Paige Cerulli is a lifelong animal lover and a certified equine massage therapist. She works as a copywriter and content writer, and her work has appeared on American Veterinarian, Northeast Equestrian Life Magazine, Business Insider, and more. Paige lives in Western Massachusetts where she shares her life with three cats, three horses, a flock of ducks, and several foster animals.


Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.