First MRI for pets in Canada

Patients of the furry kind are flocking to Saskatoon to get special treatment, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine for pets.

The city's veterinary college is home to the first MRI machine built exclusively for pets.

MRI machines are better than X-rays they allow doctors to view organs and the inner workings of the body.

Veterinarians are praising the new $1.4 million purchase.

"That we have those abilities and opportunities to do the same diagnostics that human medicine uses, that (for me) is one of the greatest parts of the job," says veterinarian Felix Duerr.

The college says the machine will allow veterinarians to diagnose neurological, spinal and intracranial diseases in cats, dogs and other small animals.

Dave Hanney brought his dog Oggi to the college. Her vet is considering surgery because Oggi ruptured a disc. An MRI would confirm whether surgery is the way to go.

"You know, pet owners are really attached. She's a member of the family," says Hanney. "The whole process is going to be costly."

Hanney will pay $750 for the privilege of having a pet MRI.

First the pet is tranquilized and then put through the machine.

"This machine was built with an idea towards functionality and efficiency," says John Pharr, the radiologist who works the machine.

The machine is only two months old and has already drawn pet owners from as far away as British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

In Oggi's case, the MRI showed that surgery wouldn't have helped and that physiotherapy would be the answer.

Hanney says he's happy with the results.