17 min

How Much Does The Vet Cost?

How much does the vet cost? Well, vet costs depend on a few factors. Read this handy guide to discover how much several vet services will cost you.

Aly Walansky

Updated May 20, 2022 • Published July 03, 2020

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How Much Does The Vet Cost?

A trip to the veterinarian’s office with your pet, similar to a visit to the doctor’s office, often proves costly. It can be difficult to predict how much a vet visit will cost, and sometimes, it’s shocking when you see the bill. The sad reality is that many people avoid medical care and treatments because they can’t afford insurance — or a trip to the doctor. 

The devastating truth is that the same can be said for pets. People love their pets; they’re often regarded as family members and are treated as such. But unexpected vet expenses and fees do happen, and it is impossible to begin to plan for them if you don’t have any idea what you are getting into.

It can be hard trying to figure out how much owning a dog actually costs. In fact, this is arguably one of the most difficult things about adding a pet to your family: you have virtually no idea how much the cost will be in the long run. 

Vet-related expenses truly do range and depend on a lot of factors that will be covered later. But what if there was a guideline about what you can expect depending on your pet’s needs?

There is, of course, plenty of variation to be expected. After all, vet costs and prices vary depending on demand, where you live, and even what type of pet you have.

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Nevertheless, having a ballpark estimate of how much your vet will cost you could prove valuable when you are attempting to deduct how much you will need to save. And of course, you will have to consider your pet’s individual needs, such as if they have any medical needs that require expensive attention and frequent vet visits.

The basics of vet prices

According to Rover, 81% of pet parents spend up to $500 on vet visits in the first year of having a puppy. It’s important to keep that in mind when bringing a new pet into your home. It’s more than just pee pads and a food bowl. The report broke down the average wellness vet visit costs.

Of course, as a pet owner, your main responsibility is to ensure that your pet has access to the care that they need. There are, of course, ways that you can save some money here and there, but when it comes to medical needs, you’ll want to guarantee that your pet will have the support they require. 

It’s easy to get intimidated as a new pet owner when it comes to attempting to decipher how much the vet and their services will cost. The team at Pawp is passionate about helping you tackle everything that you and your pet face, and that’s why they’re available to answer any questions, 24/7.

Read on to learn more about the average cost of a healthy vet check-up visit, the typical cost of a sick pet visit, an emergency visit, and the different factors that can contribute to various vet costs. Learn several hacks to save you some money without compromising your pet’s safety.

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The average cost of healthy vet visits

These estimates, compiled by Rover, offer a general average for common healthy vet visits for dogs. Cat/small dog costs tend to be similar, so cat and kitten owners can look at the lower end of the bracket. 

Nevertheless, there are sometimes cases where even having a smaller dog or cat will still lead to an expensive vet bill, so it’s better to reach out to a vet that you trust to get a more thorough analysis of how much a clinic visit will cost you.

To put it simply, regular veterinarian visits are essential. This is because they will help maintain your pet’s state of wellbeing. Your pet’s exam will reveal a wealth of information to the vet. Think of these as preventative; routine physical exams will help provide your vet with a baseline for your pet. In addition, in the event that your pet has some sort of health ailment, they’ll be able to start monitoring it as soon as it occurs. 

Unfortunately, pets are often adept at hiding the fact that they have fallen ill. Having regular veterinarian appointments will help ensure that nothing goes unnoticed.

The average cost of emergency vet visits

These estimates, compiled by Emergency Vets USA, offer a general average for common emergency care needs for cats and dogs.

These are the average costs of emergency vet visits in the U.S:

  • General consultation/exam: $100-$150

  • General bloodwork: $80-200

  • X-rays: $150-$250

  • Ultrasound: $300-$600

  • 1-2 day hospitalization: $600-$1,700

  • 3-5 day hospitalization: $1,500-$3,500

  • Wound treatment and repair: $800-$1,500

  • Emergency surgery: $800-$2,500

  • Oxygen therapy: $500

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance’s most recent Cost of Pet Health Care Report also outlines the true cost of caring for a pet — including case studies of pet injuries and illnesses and their associated veterinary costs.

According to the report, an emergency vet visit can range anywhere from $250 to $8,000. That’s a pretty big range! And, 40% of Americans don’t have $400 in emergency funds, meaning that an emergency can end up being particularly devastating.

Because of this, sometimes people do not make the leap to bring their animal to the emergency vet simply because they are unable to afford it and think their pet will likely be all right. Devastating enough, this can sometimes be fatal for a pet that needed urgent medical attention and wasn’t able to get it.

Pets are not able to vocalize how they feel, aside from barking and crying. They’re unable to speak and ask for help. Therefore, it can be tricky to figure out when you should bring your dog or cat to an emergency vet, especially knowing the bill can be massive. 

At Pawp, you can reach out to online veterinarians, who each have years of experience, anytime 24/7. The cost is a flat monthly rate, and you will never need to wait in line or make an appointment. From there, the Pawp vets will be able to advise if an emergency vet is necessary or if your pet will be OK.

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The factors that affect how much the vet costs

Many factors play a role in determining the cost of a veterinary visit — most obviously, exactly what’s being done. “A major surgery performed under emergency conditions will cost more than a routine visit for preventative care, but there’s a lot more to it than that,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pet Life Today.

Let’s take the cost of puppy vaccines, for example. “There are core (mandatory) vaccines, like Rabies and DA2PP (distemper combination), and non-core vaccines like Bordetella (kennel cough), Leptospira and Lyme which only some owners will pursue for their dogs,” says Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, Veterinary Medical Advisor for Rover.

Read More: What You Should Know About Your Dog's Vaccines

Although core vaccines are required for all puppies, many optional vaccines will be recommended by vets based on a pup’s lifestyle and exposure risk. “The added cost of maintaining this extra immunity is minuscule if you consider the cost of treating the illnesses these vaccines are meant to protect against,” says Dr. Greenstein.

If you’re planning on having your mini golden doodle groomed, for example, you would most certainly want to keep him or her protected against kennel cough. So yes, there’s an added expense for that shot, but it’s small in the grand scheme of things. Once again, preventative measures can prove helpful in ensuring that you do not rack up a gigantic vet bill later. 

Your pet's age, size, and breed affects vet costs

Different breeds and sizes and ages of dogs will have different health concerns and needs, just as with people.

“The amount a dog owner may spend will also depend on the breed and size of their pup, any underlying medical concerns they have, and how often an owner will seek out preventative routine care or if an owner prefers to wait to take their pet to the vet only when they’re not feeling well,” says Dr. Greenstein, who shared that professionals call that ‘fire engine medicine.” A reactive approach to pet health, says Dr. Greenstein "can get quite expensive… It’s always better to prevent problems than treat them after the fact.”

This is why consulting with a Pawp vet as soon as you have a question is so important. Whether it be midnight or during the weekend, get your answers from one of Pawp's trained, experienced veterinarians right away so that you can be preventive, not reactive.

Where you live also affects how much the vets costs

The costs of running a veterinary practice in, say, San Francisco or New York City are going to be much higher than those in more rural areas.

“Rent, salaries, property taxes, property insurance, and other expenses will all be higher in certain locations, and those costs have to be passed on to clients if the veterinary practice is to remain in business,” says Dr. Coates.

The type of vet you visit will affect vet costs

Specialty practices tend to be more expensive than do general practices. “More advanced (and often more expensive) procedures are available, but specialty practices also can’t use the profits earned from routine care to partially offset the costs of expensive equipment, medications, etc.,” says Dr. Coates.

How to make sure you're getting the best vet prices

Any veterinary practice should be able to provide you with an estimate for a basic office visit that includes a physical examination. “After talking to you and performing a physical, the veterinarian will have a better idea of what else might need to be done and can provide you with options,” says Dr. Coates. Often, there will be several ways to approach a pet’s care at different price points, and the doctor can explain the pros and cons of each approach to you.

Read More: 7 Hacks To Save You Money At The Vet

Build a budget

Much like choosing a pediatrician, choosing a vet is as deeply personal as it is important. They are caring for your family! “To ensure that you can provide your pets with the veterinary care they need, routinely set money aside in a dedicated savings account or purchase a pet insurance policy from a reputable company,” says Dr. Coates.

Of course, for many Americans, setting aside money in a dedicated savings account for your pet or even purchasing a pet insurance policy is not a simple and easy matter. If these are financially feasible options for you, however, you might consider one of these. Pawp offers an alternative to pet insurance: a $3,000 safety net for an emergency vet bill. Of course, there are also options for those who are in a different financial situation.

Talk to a vet online

You have heard of telehealth visits for human beings, but what about vets? Meet Pawp, the online vet that will provide you and your pet with telehealth visits whenever they need them. Pawp’s vets are available around the clock, so whenever you need guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out.

There are several reasons why chatting with an online vet may help you avoid unnecessary vet visits (and their accompanying expenses). Some issues may be resolved at home. If you're ever unsure if your pet is having an emergency, speak with a vet to get immediate advice on what the best next steps should be.

In addition, an online vet could help provide you with insight as to behavioral problems, medical, and emergencies. Whether you have a leisurely question or you’re not sure if your pet is unsafe due to a medical condition, an online vet will know what your next steps should be.

Read More: Online Vets & Telehealth — What To Know

If you are unable to get to a traditional vet appointment but want the reassurance that your furry friend is going to be OK, telehealth is an excellent route for you to go. Sign up for Pawp today and see how the vets at Pawp can help your pet.

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Why are regular veterinary visits important? | AAHA  

How do emergency clinics work? | VCA Animal Hospital 

Telemedicine and How it Works | VCA Animal Hospital 

The Cost of Owning a Dog in 2020 | Rover

Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households in 2017, May 2018 | Federal Reserve

Average Cost Of Emergency Vet Visits In A City Near You | Emergency Vets USA

The Dog People Panel | The Dog People

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