Calculations of radiation dose are important in assessing the medical and biological implications of ionizing radiation in medical imaging techniques such as SPECT and PET. In contrast, radiation dose estimates of SPECT and PET imaging of small animals are not very well established. For that reason we have estimated the whole-body radiation dose to mice and rats for isotopes such as and that are used commonly for small animal imaging. We have approximated mouse and rat bodies with uniform soft tissue equivalent ellipsoids. The mouse and rat sized ellipsoids had a mass of 30 g and 300 g, respectively, and a ratio of the principal axes of 1:1:4 and 0.7:1:4. The absorbed fractions for various photon energies have been calculated using the Monte Carlo software package MCNP. Using these values, we then calculated MIRD S-values for two geometries that model the distribution of activity in the animal body: (a) a central point source and (b) a homogeneously distributed source, and compared these values against S-value calculations for small ellipsoids tabulated in MIRD Pamphlet 8 to validate our results. Finally we calculated the radiation dose taking into account the biological half-life of the radiopharmaceuticals and the amount of activity administered. Our calculations produced S-values between and for SPECT agents, and for the PET agent assuming mouse sized ellipsoids with uniform source distribution. The S-values for a central point source in an ellipsoid are about 10% higher than the values obtained for the uniform source distribution. Furthermore, the S-values for mouse sized ellipsoids are approximately 10 times higher than for the rat sized ellipsoids reflecting the difference in mass. We reviewed published data to obtain administered radioactivity and residence times for small animal imaging. From these values and our computed S-values we estimated that the whole body dose in small animals ranges between 6 cGy and 90 cGy for mice and between about 1 cGy and 27 cGy for rats. The whole body dose in small animal imaging can be very high in comparison to the lethal dose to mice For this reason the dose in small animal imaging should be monitored carefully and the administered activity should be kept to a minimum. These results also underscore the need of further development of instrumentation that improves detection efficiency and reduces radiation dose in small animal imaging.