How Much Does A Vet Visit Cost?

TL;DR

As much as we love our pets, there’s no denying that providing adequate vet care to keep your pet happy and healthy can be expensive. While vet costs can vary greatly depending on your pet’s overall health, understanding the average prices can help prepare you. 

Takeaway Points

  • Vet visits can be expensive, so understanding the average cost will help you plan and be prepared. 
  • Being proactive by scheduling regular annual exams and booking a vet consultation at the first sign of illness or injury can help keep your pet healthy and lower overall unexpected costs.
  • Many factors influence the cost of vet services, like the cost of living, breed, and even size.
  • While cost varies greatly depending on the service, a vet visit can range between $500 – $3,500.

What Is The Typical Cost Of A Vet Visit?

As a pet parent, your main goal is to keep your pet healthy, which means many vet visits throughout the life of your pet. 

The cost of the vet visit will mostly depend on the procedures and treatments performed. For example, an annual wellness exam with one vaccine will be much cheaper than a sick visit when your pet has ear or skin issues. 

Costs For Routine, Annual Vet Visits

Here are some of the common veterinary services performed on a routine or annual basis and an average of how much they typically cost. 

Physical exam$30 – $75
Vaccines (per vaccine)$10 – $30 each
Fecal check$20 – $50
Heartworm test$35 – $65
Bloodwork$80 – $250
Dental cleaning$100 – $500
Spay/neuter $100 – $400
Microchip$20 – $60
Nail trim$10 – $20
Flea/tick and heartworm prevention$50 – $180

Costs For Emergencies And Surgeries

Here are some common problems that may arise throughout your pet’s life and their associated average cost.

Emergency exam$50 – $200
Bloodwork$80 – $250
X-rays$150 – $350
Ultrasound$300 – $600
Anal gland expression$40 – $80
Ear swab$30 – $60
Wound treatment$800 – $2,500
Emergency surgery$1,500 – $5,000
Hospitalization$600 – $3,500

Average Cost For The First Year Of A New Pet

When you initially get a puppy or kitten or even rescue an older pet, the first year is often one of the most expensive. The total cost from that first year can range from $1,200 to $2,500

During that initial year, you’ll need to bring your pet in for exams and other standard procedures, like vaccine series, spay/neuter, microchip, etc. If your pet has an unexpected illness or is diagnosed with a disease, there will be an added cost for treatment, and your vet may recommend further testing. 

What Influences Vet Costs?

There are several factors that influence how much a vet visit will cost you. 

Cost Of Living

One of the key factors determining how much you’ll be paying for vet visits is the general cost of living in the area in which you live. A vet clinic in a large city is often more expensive than a vet located more rurally.

Cats Versus Dogs

Overall, cats are generally much less expensive than dogs. Cats are smaller animals and typically require lower maintenance and fewer resources or medicines than dogs.

Breed And Size

Your pet’s particular breed may influence vet costs as well. Breeds with genetic predispositions to certain diseases will ultimately be more expensive if they develop that disease. For example, English Bulldogs are prone to eye and skin problems, hip dysplasia, heart conditions, allergies, and more. On the other hand, Australian Shepherds have very few predispositions. 

In addition to breed, the size of the pet will directly impact the cost of vet services. A large breed dog will be more expensive and generally require a larger quantity of things like medications and anesthesia. 

Annual Exams Can Cut Vet Costs

One of the best things you can do to keep your pet healthy and even cut vet costs is to schedule annual exams for your pet. 

Health changes in pets can happen quickly, and having your vet perform a physical exam on your pet at least once per year can help detect any problems early on. The sooner problems are identified and treated, the less money you spend, and the better off your pet is. 

Unexpected Vet Costs

If your vet identifies any problems on a physical exam, they may want to do further diagnostics or tests to determine what’s wrong with your pet. If they diagnose your pet with a disease or illness, you’ll need to pay for the recommended treatment or procedures to get it back to its healthy state. 

If your pet is suddenly very sick or has an emergency, you may need to take them in for an emergency appointment. Emergency vet visits, especially at an emergency vet hospital, are generally more expensive due to the nature of the service. Taking your pet in for an annual physical exam or at the first sign of illness can help avoid some of these costs. 

How Pet Insurance Can Help 

Having a pet can cost quite a bit of money. During a stressful time, like when your pet is sick, having pet insurance can help ensure that your pet gets the care they need. Pet insurance can give you peace of mind and prevent you from worrying about money during such a stressful time. 

Pet insurance works differently than health insurance for humans. With pet insurance, you pay for all veterinary services upfront at your vet clinic, and the pet insurance company will reimburse you directly once you’ve met your deductible. 

Since you have to pay upfront with pet insurance, it’s important to make sure you plan for those costs. There are a few options on how to pay for vet visits while you wait to be reimbursed:

  • Establish a savings account specifically for your pet that you can access immediately. 
  • Pay with a credit card with a good cashback rewards program, and then pay the balance as soon as the pet insurance reimburses you.
  • Pay with CareCredit. This is a medical credit card with 0% interest if the payment is received in full during the promotional time period, which is usually 3-6 months. 

Pet insurance plans vary widely from company to company. Comparing plans to see what options work best for you, your pet, and your finances will mean you get the best deal. Most companies offer multiple plans with different coverages and reimbursement plans, so you’re sure to find a plan that fits your needs. 

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Alix Mitchell

Alix Mitchell is a veterinary technician turned dog trainer with over a decade of experience working with dogs. Although her educational background in animal science gave her a broad knowledge base, it was her own behaviorally challenging dog who helped her realize her passion in life is teaching dog owners how to live a better life with their dog. Using positive reinforcement based training techniques, Alix specializes in improving the dog and owner relationship by meeting all of the dog’s mental and physical needs to modify behavior problems like reactivity and aggression. Alix currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two dogs. In her free time, you can find her either reading a good thriller novel or out in nature camping and hiking with her family.