PET Scans And Pet Safety

After a PET scan, most patients are told to avoid contact with babies and anyone up through  the age of 18.  Patients are also told to keep their distance from pregnant women.  This prohibition is generally for 6 hours.  Physicians provide this warning because the radioactive material used in the scan, 2-fluorodeoxy-D-glucose (2FDG), may damage growth in immature individuals. 

Unfortunately in the discharge instructions from the scan facility, pets are often overlooked.  I recommend avoiding contact with any growing or pregnant animal. Since growth plates remain open in horses for up to 3 years, avoid contact with any colts or fillies under 3 years of age or any pregnant mare or filly.  For small dogs and cats, most growth plates are closed by a year.  In large breed dogs, growth plates remain open much longer.  I once radiographed a Great Dane who still had open growth plates in his shoulder at two years of age.  Therefore, I recommend avoiding large and giant breeds of dogs who are pregnant or under the age of two.  Just to be safe, I stay away from my pets for 6 hours after a PET scan just as I do for the young and pregnant people we are all instructed to avoid.  Once it is safe, I highly recommend hugging your animals.  PET scans are stressful and the love of animals is great for the soul, mind and body!    

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

6 replies on “PET Scans And Pet Safety”

  1. Thank you for this, I needed to know if it was safe to snuggle with her during our frequent thunderstorms which she hates!

    1. Thank you so much for this information. Great to know that my pups (6 -10 yrs old) can snuggle on my lap within hours of PET/CT scans. They are small, one teacup poodle and two small toys, so I was worried how they might be affected.

      1. My pleasure. More and more facilities are including pets in their post scan discharge instructions which is wonderful. Maybe you can enlighten the staff the next time you have a scan.

  2. Thank you fir posting this information
    I am having a PET SCAN this week and was worried about our toy poodle after they told me about not being able to go into with that day. I started thinking that if it was not safe to be around humans that it certainly could not be good for animals. So I will try to stay away for a few hours after the test and then in another room from her until it is safe. You are correct in that they need to make this part of the instructions since those of us who live their pets could not live with ourselves if we hurt them in any way. I will try to spread the word also to anyone I know who is going to be having the test also. But thank you again for your information.

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