Special moments shared with your beloved pet are priceless. Trips to the vet are not. Those come with a price, and it's often pretty high. It's hard to know what you're in for when you head to the vet. Sometimes even the slightest ailment can result in a staggering bill.

The sad truth is that pet owners often delay seeking treatment for their companions or avoid it altogether because of the heavy vet pricing that care will incur. It's a heartbreaking reality. So, what can be done? How can pet owners prepare for these kinds of unforeseen expenses? The first place to start is to get an idea of the average costs you can expect.

Average vet prices for cats and dogs

Determining the average price of a vet visit for cats and dogs sounds like a straightforward exercise. The reality is that there's no precise way to cater to the kinds of variation that pet owners can expect in the costs of care for a sick pet.

Vet costs can range widely depending on several factors, so there's no single vet price prediction strategy. Very specialized care for an exotic pet will run you a significantly higher bill, as will the treatment for rare conditions which requires extensive treatment and frequent visits.

Pet's first year

On average, a pet owner can spend more than $500 on vet visits for their kitten or puppy in the first year. It is something that often catches new pet owners. In all the excitement of bringing home a new fluffy family member, the costs of vet visits are often furthest from the mind.

Within the first year of having a cat or dog, you'll need to shell out for vaccinations, general parasite prevention, checkups, and microchipping. And that's not counting the visits resulting from exuberant kitty and puppy antics that can result in some unscheduled emergency visits.

Below are some rough estimates of what you can expect to pay during your pet's first year for basic care:

  • Microchip: $50
  • Annual checkup: $300-$600
  • Vaccinations: $100 - $150
  • Spaying/neutering: $300-$800
  • Tick and flea prevention: $100 - $200
  • Deworming: $50 - $150

Of course, when you look at it like this, it can seem daunting, but remember that these are preventative treatments that will save you significantly more than treating illness and infection.

After the first year, veterinary costs will slow down to include only vaccinations, deworming and parasite prevention, and regular physical and dental checkups. Maintaining a proactive and regular schedule of checkups can save pet owners a great deal more compared to if they only visit the vet when something is clearly wrong.

As your pet ages, the costs of maintaining your pet's health can increase as old age sets in.

General checkups

Regularly visiting the vet is extremely important. According to research, the likelihood of visiting a veterinarian increased with the age and income of the pet owner. Even though it can be costly, it will still be significantly cheaper than treating an ailment that arises because you didn't catch it early at an annual checkup.

When your pet seems healthy, it can be tempting to skip checkups to save some cash. But pets are masters at hiding when they're feeling under the weather, and frequently a regular checkup can pick up things you weren't even aware were wrong. And, of course, catching these things early is always better (and likely more affordable to treat) than waiting until things are much, much worse.

A proactive and preventative approach to your pet's health will almost certainly save you plenty of money in the long term.

Emergency care visits

When your beloved pet suddenly falls ill, it may require an emergency visit to the vet. These kinds of visits can vary greatly but usually cost in the range of $300 to as much as $8000.

According to Emergency Vets USA, these are the average costs for emergency care:

  • Exam or consultation: $100 to $150
  • Bloodwork: $80 - $200
  • X-rays: $150 - $250
  • Would treatment and repair: $800 - $1500
  • Emergency surgery: $800 - $2500

If you don't have savings to dip into in these instances, it can be a financial disaster. The fear of these hefty bills can make pet owners reluctant to seek out their pets' care. And these stories don't always end well.

Besides, it can be tough to know when your pet's ailments are severe enough to warrant a visit to the vet (and the potentially high costs that it may incur).

Emergency visits cater to the most significant portion of pet parent spending for vet visits. Not only are these emergency visits to the vet more costly, but many times, they're entirely unnecessary.

You know the scenario: you speed to the vet thinking something is terribly wrong. Within two minutes, the vet has found the problem (which wasn't serious) and sent you off with a huge bill. The issue was straightforward and could have been resolved by you at home if you'd only known. (Keep reading, we know how to prevent this!)

Plan your budget for your pet's wellness and health care

Arming yourself with knowledge about the costs of veterinary care for your pet can help you be prepared when the time comes. The price of a vet visit isn't a static thing; many things can impact how much a vet visit costs. These are the kinds of things that can affect your vet price prediction.

Pet's age, size, and breed

The amount your favorite floof will ring up at the vet will depend significantly on the size, breed, and existing conditions.

Some pet breeds are prone to developing certain conditions. You only need to ask a dachshund owner about vet bills related to their back problems.

Also, much like humans, dogs and cats develop more health concerns as they age.

Where you live

Vet practices are businesses like any others. The costs of running them can increase the vet pricing that you ultimately pay.

So, for example, a vet practice in a big city will pay more in rent, taxes, and other expenses. And these costs are passed on to you, the customer, in the form of more considerable costs for care.

Type of vet

Specialized veterinary practices will, of course, cost you way more than a regular vet. Advanced care often requires technical knowledge and equipment, which comes at a premium, reflected in the vet pricing.

Also, after-hours vet care at any vet is always more expensive.

Be prepared

If you can set aside some money every month into a pet savings account, that will put you in an excellent position to afford the treatment your pet may require.

Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done and not within the means of all pet owners.

If you are in a bind, try shopping around for the cheapest vet. Unfortunately, this might not be the vet closest to you or the best value for money.

The ideal solution

The ideal solution for affording your pet's veterinary care is a combination approach. For starters, you'll need to work up an emergency fund. No matter how small – every little bit helps.

To make that emergency fund go as far as possible, you can save a bunch of unnecessary vet visits by consulting an online vet first. Petcube's Online Vet solution offers 24/7 access to a team of trained veterinarians who can answer your questions and advise on the best course of action.

Sometimes, a vet visit is unavoidable, but an online vet can help you make the right choice when you're not sure. The truth is that 60% of vet visits could have been resolved via a phone call.

With Online Vet, you can send photos and videos and get advice from a trained vet on whether it's something you can handle yourself or whether it's time to see the vet. In which case, your emergency fund is there to help.

Moreover, Petcube has revamped the traditional pet insurance to meet the most common emergency needs at an affordable price. Talk to a vet online any time of the day, get $3,000 in an emergency for up to six pets for $29 per month.

Emergency Fund provides you with 24/7 access to authorized veterinarians, most of whom have more than 10 years of experience. You can ask any questions regarding your pet's wellbeing, including general health, nutrition advice, second opinions, allergies, behavioral questions, or anything else your pet might be encountering

Petcube Emergency Fund

Final thoughts

Veterinary care for your beloved cat or dog can be costly. Knowing the likely costs can help you be more prepared. Many things impact the average price of a pet visit and knowing what these are can help you get the best deal.

Vet costs for cats and dogs increase dramatically after hours. Instead of waiting until it's too late and paying the inevitable emergency vet bill, we'd encourage a regular schedule of preventative checkups for your cat or dog. No matter how tempting it is to skip the checkup when your pet seems to be in good health, a proactive approach will save you a lot.

The ideal approach to bracing for the average cost of a vet visit is to keep a small savings stash to use in these instances. You can make this savings work for you by signing up with Online Vet and Emergency Fund to ensure you don't make any avoidable visits to the vet outside of your regular checkups. An online vet will offer advice and answers to your questions that can save you from visiting the vet unnecessarily.

This approach will ensure that your savings are only used for regular vet checkup costs and necessary and unavoidable emergency visits.

Was this article helpful?

Help us make our articles even better

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback