Health & Wellness
Being a good pet parent means providing your pet with the best care through thick and thin. So, when injuries and illnesses happen, you should feel confident about agreeing to any treatment your best friend needs — no matter the price. Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains how to determine the cost of surprise vet visits so you’re always prepared to be there for your pet.
There are four main cost components of any sick visit (this doesn’t mean your yearly checkup): the examination fee, diagnostics and treatment and the extent of care needed. Budgeting for vet visits can be difficult because of the many factors that impact the price, but we’re providing a general idea below.
Location of the veterinary hospital
Veterinary care varies by state because of the demographics and general costs of living. According to Fetch's claims data, pet parents in California, D.C., Hawaii, Louisiana and New Mexico can expect to pay more than other states for sick veterinary care.
Type of veterinary hospital
General hospitals and clinics treat many common illnesses and injuries, but for specialty and emergency care, pets must go to a veterinarian who has the advanced equipment and knowledge needed. For example, if your pitbull suffers from seizures, a consultation with a neurologist and an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be the next step.
Sick visits usually include exam fees, diagnostic tests and various treatments. At a general practice veterinarian’s office, an exam fee can average between $45 to $65, while diagnostics and various treatments can cost up to $1,500, according to Fetch’s claims data.
However, a sick visit to a veterinary specialist’s office can cost much more. According to Fetch’s claims data, exam fees can cost anywhere between $100 to $250, and the diagnostic tests and treatments can cost anywhere between $40 and $3,000.
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Type of illness or injury
Vet visit costs vary by procedure. The cost of dog and cat vaccinations typically ranges between $20 to $40, but that also depends on the vaccine, type of clinic and location. While infections with gastrointestinal worms may cost $181 to treat, surgery to remove an intestinal foreign body obstruction costs around $3,168, according to Fetch’s claims data. But, even injuries and illnesses that seem simple, like an ear infection, can add up — so it’s best to always be prepared.
The extent of care required
The length of stay at a veterinary hospital or clinic determines the cost, too. If your pet has a medical condition such as an ear infection that can be treated and discharged from the hospital the same day, the cost will be lower.
However, if your pet requires extended hospitalization for an emergency such as bloating or requires surgery, the vet bills will probably be more expensive. Here’s an example: According to Fetch’s claims data, the sick visit cost for ear infections average around $474. But, the sick visit cost for bloat averages around $4,012.
Vet visit costs for dogs or cats are generally the same. However, medications and treatments are sometimes priced by weight, so dogs could cost more.
If you’re concerned that a visit to the vet will overwhelm your family’s budget, consider pet insurance when your pet is young or right after adopting.
Fetch’s comprehensive pet insurance covers all veterinary recommended diagnostic tests, treatments, and the sick exam, too. With our help, you can spend less time budgeting and more time focusing on getting your pet back to optimal health.
The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.
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Photo by Karstin Winegeart on Unsplash