As a pet parent, you always want to take every step necessary to protect your fur friend’s health to ensure a long, active, happy life together. From the very first day you bring your new dog or cat home, you are responsible for providing healthy food, fresh water, a warm, dry place to sleep, and plenty of exercise and enrichment to keep their minds and bodies in tip-top shape. But in addition to the basic necessities to sustain life, you are also responsible for providing veterinary care to keep your pet up-to-date on vaccinations and to ensure that s/he is healthy and living a life free from illness or pain.
Routine Veterinary Care Costs
Regular vet visits are essential, beginning with routine exams, booster shots and dental cleanings. With these as a strong foundation, many more serious issues may be avoided, or at least kept manageable with wellness care and early intervention.
And while we all hope our pets never get sick – they do. Particularly as they age. Plan to spend more on your pet’s veterinary care as they get older. As dogs and cats age, they are more prone to chronic conditions like dental disease, kidney disease, diabetes, arthritis and bone/ligament issues.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the price of veterinary services has been rising steadily over the last 20 years. Veterinary costs vary widely depending on a variety of factors including the pet species and where you live. Here are some typical pet vet expense ranges from the AVMA:
Tests, Examinations, and Initial Vet Costs:
- Routine checkups: $50 to $250
- Spay/neuter: $160 to $220
- Vaccines (per shot): $15 to $28
- Physical exams: $45 to $55
- Fecal exam: $25 to $45
- Heartworm test: $45 to $50
- Dental cleaning: $70 to $400
- Allergy testing: $195 to $300
- Geriatric screening: $85 to $110
Emergency Veterinary Care
The most obvious distinction in the pricing of your pet’s health care is the level of urgency. A routine vet visit or wellness check will cost less than an emergency. Due to the urgent nature of an emergency, there is usually less time or opportunity for second opinions.
If your pet needs to have an unplanned visit and your pet is in crisis mode (i.e. has just experienced impact trauma like being hit by a car, experiencing bloat, having repeated seizures), this is considered an emergency visit. If your pet’s emergency has occurred outside your vet’s normal office hours, that in itself will drive up the price of the visit.
Depending on the situation, your pet could be facing complicated diagnostic tests, surgery and/or other life-saving care. According to Emergency Vets USA, the approximate cost of the following emergency care services is as follows:
Surgeries and Unexpected Vet Costs*:
- Exam: $100-150
- Bloodwork: $80 to $200
- X-rays: $150 to $250
- Ultrasounds: $300 to $600
- Short hospitalizations: $600 to $1,700
- Long hospitalizations: $1,500 to $3,500
- Wound treatment: $800 to $2,500
- Emergency surgery: $1,500 to $5,000
- Oxygen therapy: $500 to $3,000
*Note that costs are general estimates and the actual cost will be highly dependent on your pet’s age, breed, injury/illness/trauma and the area where you live.
Common Pet Emergencies
Pet emergencies are stressful, and the high price of emergency care makes it worse. For example, according to preventivevet.com the following are cost estimates for emergency care for the following common issues:
- Intestinal obstruction with survey : Total average vet bill, $2,000-$4,000+
- Chocolate ingestion: Total average vet bill, $250 – $2,000+
- Hit by car: Total average vet bill, $250 – $8,000+
- Urinary obstruction: Total average vet bill, $1,000 – $3,000
Plan For The Unexpected
When your pet is experiencing an emergency and needs costly, life-saving treatment, the last thing you want to do is scramble to figure out the finances. Do yourself and your pet a favor and plan ahead. While dealing with a crisis is never pleasant, the process will be easier when you’re prepared. Here are a few ways to prepare.
Save For Pet Expenses
Set aside money every month in a pet savings account and only use those funds for unexpected expenses for your pet. The upside here is that you’re fully in control of the money you set aside. The downside is that many pet parents forget to save, put off saving or take money out of their fund for other purposes. Then when the time comes, they don’t have the money they originally planned to set aside.
Consider signing up for a membership like Airvet that includes a $3,000 emergency fund that can be used once a year in the event of a life threatening emergency. The fund can also be used for pets with pre-existing conditions which is helpful if you adopt a pet. Pricing does not fluctuate based on your pet’s age, breed or location. For a flat fee for up to six pets in your family, you’ll also have 24/7 access to a veterinarian for any reason with unlimited video visits. There will always be times when your pet needs to see a vet in-person – so you’ll still need to maintain a relationship with your local vet for routine vaccinations, wellness checks and dental care – but Airvet’s virtual care is a great solution for quick questions, in-between visits or when you aren’t sure if you really need to go in.
Consider getting a pet insurance policy to cover the times when your pet is sick or injured. The upside is that you’ll be covered for accidents and illnesses as long as your situation doesn’t involve a pre-existing condition. The downside of pet insurance is that it can be very expensive – and depends highly on your pet’s age, breed, and location. It’s also very important to read the fine print regarding what is covered and what is not covered. For example, pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, wellness, and a variety of congenital and hereditary conditions for various breeds of dogs and cats – so read up to avoid surprises!
Other factors that can affect the cost of veterinary care
Besides the stark contrast in costs between routine care and emergency care, there are other factors that can increase your cost of pet ownership including the type of pet, breed, age and geographic location.
Species – Dogs vs. Cats
While costs vary wildly, dogs are generally more expensive to care for than cats. According to the website thedogvisitor.com the typical lifetime medical expenses for a dog range from $16,607 – $22,423, compared with $13,625 to $17,510 for a cat, even though cats typically live longer than dogs.
Your pet’s breed will factor into their cost – particularly when it comes to veterinary care. If you adopt a mixed breed cat or dog, they are likely to have fewer health issues than a purebred animal. The reality is that the act of breeding and reinforcing certain traits can lead to medical issues down the road. Expect to pay more with a purebred animal.
As your pet ages, they naturally are more prone to age-related diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disorders, obesity, arthritis and cancer. When you’re budgeting for pet care, recognize that older pets tend to need more veterinary attention than younger pets.
Your location can affect the cost of veterinary care. Different geographic locations throughout the United States have different costs associated with each area. For example, the cost to live in urban areas like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, is far higher than the cost of living in other lesser populated areas of the country. Because things cost more in bigger cities, the cost of veterinary care is higher. Be aware that where you live can dramatically impact the amount you’ll pay for veterinary services.
Are you financially prepared for pet parenthood?
When offered a “free” kitten or “free” puppy – realize that the cost to responsibly care for pets is not free. Pet ownership means you’ll be providing all of the necessities for your furry family member, like food, grooming and medical care. Be sure to plan ahead for annual health care expenses for each pet in your family. And don’t forget to consider how you’ll prepare for the unexpected: savings, emergency funds or pet insurance – whatever you decide, you’ll be a better prepared pet parent.
No matter what issue you’re facing with your pet, Airvet’s professional team is available to speak to your 24/7 – so contact Airvet now and get connected instantly.