Understanding Veterinary Pricing

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The exciting process of adopting a new pet into the home does not always include time for considering veterinary costs or proper budgeting for the future. Veterinary costs throughout the life of your pet can vary depending on the breed, any preexisting medical conditions, and the pet’s environment or working goals.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact veterinary costs you will acquire during your pet ownership, but a bit of time spent researching general veterinary costs in your area and looking into exactly what pets require for medical care can allow you to organize a budget and prepare for any future care or medical emergencies.

Veterinary Costs of Owning a Pet

These costs and requirements are based on typical current U.S. veterinary costs and regulations and may vary depending on location and practices.

Over the first 12 weeks, a new puppy or kitten will need:

  • Up to three initial exams (the first is sometimes free or discounted) ($40 - $100 each)
  • A series of approximately 7-8 vaccines ($15 - $35 each)
  • Deworming medication ($5 - $35)
  • 1-2 fecal exams ($25 - $55 each)
  • Monthly flea treatment (throughout life) ($20 per month)

At six months of age, the pet will need:

  • Rabies exam ($40 - $85)
  • Rabies vaccine ($15 - $35)
  • Spay or Neuter surgery (including pre-surgical bloodwork, anesthesia, supportive care, monitoring and post-op medications) ($100 - $500)

Adult pets will need:

  • Vaccines (2-3 per year or every 3 years) ($15 - $35 each)
  • Annual exams ($40 - $75 each)
  • Annual fecal exams ($25 - $50 each)
  • Monthly flea preventatives ($20 per month)
  • Heartworm tests ($45 - $55 each)
  • Dental cleanings ($100 - $500) (every 1-2 years)
  • Geriatric screenings ($90 - $145) (annually for pets over 7 years of age)
Costs of Treating Common Disorders or Accidents

Pets may require veterinary attention throughout life depending on the development of certain disorders, allergies, or accidents. Costs may include:

  • Medications (varies)
  • Laboratory Diagnostics (varies)
  • Hospitalization ($25 - $75 per night)
  • X-ray/Ultrasound ($80 - $450)
  • Exploratory surgery ($450 - $5,000)
  • Prescription diets (varies)
  • Dental surgery ($200 - $2,500)
  • Wound repair (varies)
  • Allergy Testing ($150 - $400)
Why are veterinary services so costly?

Veterinary bills are costly, just as human medical bills are costly. Veterinary pricing reflects the extreme costs of diagnostic equipment (radiography, ultrasound), pharmaceuticals, laboratory diagnostics, veterinary staff and clinic maintenance. High-quality diagnostics and appropriate treatments can provide pets with long, healthy lives. Without diagnostic tests, treatment cannot be administered safely or effectively. Veterinarians alone, without equipment or laboratory testing, are not able to provide optimal care.

Organize a budget for your pet

Having a budget specifically for your pet can prevent worries when it comes to paying for veterinary service. In planning a budget for your pet, locate five or more local veterinary clinics. Call or pay a visit to the clinics and ask for pricing on annual exams, vaccines, spaying, and neutering. Ask if the clinic offers any discounts on dental cleanings or puppy/kitten exams. Create a chart to compare these costs between all the clinics you spoke with. This will give you a general feel for the pricing of those clinics. Clinics with higher pricing do not always provide higher quality care. Choose a clinic that fits your budget best.

Payment options

A variety of payment options may be available for your pet. Since many veterinary clinics require payment at the time of service, it is a good idea to do your research and find out about payment options before an emergency occurs. Some clinics offer credit lines or similar payment options. Insurance and wellness plans may not be necessary for younger pets in good health. However, pets of all ages are susceptible to accidents, illness, and injury. You may want to consider investing in a wellness plan or pet insurance plan at some point in your pet’s future. Your veterinarian will be able to discuss these options with you and help you find the best fit. Some insurance plans, as with human plans, will not cover preexisting conditions or conditions for certain breeds with a well-established genetic predisposition to certain disorders.

Prevention is the cheapest option

As with human medicine, taking preventative measures is going to cost less than paying for emergency medical procedures or treatments. Don’t allow your pet to ingest hair ties, ribbons, clothing, small toys, or rawhide. Expensive exploratory surgery is a common veterinary cost for pets and often has to be repeated if the pet continues to be allowed to eat foreign objects. Invest in animal toothpaste, a small toothbrush and dental treats and chews to prevent costly dental procedures. Feed your pet a high-quality diet for proper balanced nutrition. Pet-proof your home indoors and out to prevent injuries and always monitor your pet’s eyes, skin, fur, appetite, and behavior. Catching problems and treating them early can prevent expensive hospitalization and supportive care bills.