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How Much Does A Vet Visit Cost?

When you’re paying out-of-pocket, the cost of vet visits can add up quickly. Editorial Team

March 17, 2023

Imagine: You just caught your dog Luna eating a sock; or maybe your cat Tibby is well overdue for a check-up. For both planned and unexpected vet appointments, you’ll have to pay a high price without pet insurance (Up to $6,500 for Luna and about $300 for Tibby).

Whether you have a Luna or a Tibby in your life (or both), you should never have to deal with the surprise of an expensive vet bill. To help you avoid any future surprises, we’ll take you through the average costs of routine care and emergency care. Plus, we’ll show you one way you can mitigate these costs altogether in the future.

How Much Do Routine Veterinary Procedures Cost?

Routine care includes any kind of checkup, medication, test, or even operation that helps keep your pet in great health.

Here are the average costs for the most common routine care options (prices averaged for cats and dogs):

Average Costs for Routine Care

Physical exam $45-$55
Vaccine shot $15-$28
Fecal exam $25-$45
Heartworm test $45-$50
Dental cleaning: $70-$400
Allergy testing (skin) $195-$250
Allergy testing (blood) $200-$300

What Can I Expect from a Routine Veterinary Visit?

If you bring your dog or cat to your veterinarian for a checkup, you can expect your vet to take the same steps for each visit.

After spending time in the waiting room, you and your pet will be asked to enter the examination room. Most pet parents stay in the examination room for the entire appointment, where they can easily answer any questions the vet might have about their pet.

While in the examination room, expect the vet to:

  • Ask about your pet’s medical history and any recent medical events;
  • Weigh your pet and take their temperature;
  • Check your pet’s eyes and nose for irritation;
  • Check your pet’s inner ears and teeth;
  • Record your pet’s heartbeat;
  • Press your pet’s abdomen and chest, checking for inflammation or soreness; and
  • Administer any vaccines your pet may need, depending on their medical history.

The Average Cost of Vet Visits

All of those individual costs add up: according to Wellness Pet Food, the average cost of a veterinary visit is $200–$400 for dogs and $90–$200 for cats.

These prices aren’t the full story: while adult pets only require one checkup a year, younger and older pets may need to see the vet multiple times a year. Based on your pet’s age, here’s how often they need to see the vet:

  • Under 4 Months: Expect to pay about $1,000–$2,000 for puppies and $450–$1,000 for kittens. At this age, they should see the vet every three weeks to establish their vaccinations, medications, tests, and to be spayed or neutered.

  • 4 Months to 1 Year: Vet care for this period adds up to about $800–$1,600 for dogs and $360–$800 for cats, as you should expect them to see the vet every two months or so.

  • Adults (1 to 7 years old for dogs; 1 to 9 for cats): Adult pets in good health only need to see the vet once a year. Per year, expect to pay $200–$400 for your dog’s veterinary visit and $90–$200 for your cat’s veterinary visit.

  • Seniors (7+ years for dogs; 9+ years for cats): Elderly pets are more susceptible to accidents and illnesses, and should be expected to visit the vet twice a year for regular checkups.

    For elderly pets in good health, you can expect to pay $400–$800 for dogs and $180–$400 for cats.

How Much Do Unexpected and Emergency Veterinary Procedures Cost?

We can all plan for our pet’s regular vet appointments, but we can’t plan for everything; unfortunately, emergencies happen, or our pet gets sick or injured.

Unexpected and emergency care is often more expensive than routine care. Whether your pet requires a simple antibiotic or a complicated surgery, these unexpected appointments take more of a vet’s time and energy than most routine care, hiking up the price of the visit.

The following medical issues—organized from most to least common—are the most diagnosed complications for each species. These are based on the out-of-pocket costs for treatment (if you have pet insurance, you’ll probably pay less).

Dogs - Accident, Illness, and Emergency Costs

Stomach issues Up to $6,500
Skin conditions Up to $4,000
Ear infections Up to $800
Eye conditions Up to $6,000
Pain Up to $3,000
Growth or lump Up to $6,000
UTI Up to $6,000
Allergic reaction Up to $3,000
Cruciate ligament injury Up to $6,500
Limping Up to $5,000

Cats - Accident, Illness, and Emergency Costs

Stomach issues Up to $6,500
UTIs/Bladder stones Up to $6,000
Skin conditions Up to $4,000
Kidney disease Up to $3,500
Cancer Up to $15,000
Heart conditions Up to $20,000
Eye conditions Up to $6,000
Ear infections Up to $800
Diabetes Up to $2,000
Upper respiratory infection Up to $350

What Can I Expect from an Emergency Veterinary Visit?

If your pet becomes sick, injured, or begins acting strangely, it’s best to err on the side of caution and take them to a vet right away.

If your pet is experiencing a non-emergency (such as a mild sickness or injury), simply call your local vet and take your pet in for a same-day appointment.

If your pet is experiencing an emergency situation (such as serious injury, difficulty breathing, bleeding, or other serious situations), here’s what to do:

  1. Apply immediate care, if necessary. For example, if your pet is bleeding, cover the wound with a clean rag and apply pressure. If you’re uncertain, ask your vet (or emergency vet) over the phone.

  2. Assess the time. If the emergency happens during working hours, call your vet and say you’re taking your pet in for an emergency visit. If an emergency occurs past normal working hours, you may have to take your vet to a 24/7 emergency vet clinic.

  3. Drive your pet to the veterinary hospital. As calmly as possible, transport your pet into a vehicle and bring them to the vet. Drive safely.

  4. Request immediate help. Once you’re in the vet hospital, request help from staff immediately.

It can be difficult to decide when your pet’s sickness, injury, or behavior constitutes an emergency. When in doubt, call a vet.

How Pet Insurance Can Help with Veterinary Costs

If your pet becomes sick or injured, out-of-pocket veterinary costs can quickly turn scary. To help tackle the costs of unexpected vet bills, consider signing up for a pet insurance policy.

Pet insurance companies help their policyholders cover the vet bills for a long list of common injuries and illnesses. Some pet insurers will cover up to 90% of any vet bill, which could translate to thousands in savings for a weighty bill.

In exchange for coverage, policyholders pay a monthly premium cost to their pet insurance company, starting at about $15/month for cats and $20/month for dogs. If your insured pet gets sick or hurt, your pet insurance plan can pay for itself and then some.

Sign Up for Pet Insurance Coverage

Thinking that pet insurance could be a good fit for you and your furry friend? Start here, with our list of the top-rated pet insurance providers in the United States.

From our site, you can find in-depth reviews of every provider, learn important provider information like coverage inclusions and premium costs, and quickly find the best provider for your cat or dog.

Find Pet Insurance Coverage