Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Written by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

Dr Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years experience in companion animal practice. In 1987 she graduated from the University of Glasgow, with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. A love of the sea meant accepting her first job in the port town of Portsmouth, England. A fter working in private practice for two years, her next position was as a vet at the People’...

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Reviewed by Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS
Veterinarian Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS

UPDATED: Dec 29, 2021

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Overview

  • The average vet visit could cost between $50 and $250, but your vet costs will vary based on the type of pet you have, your pet’s health history, your location, and more
  • Vet costs for cats are likely to be less than vet costs for dogs
  • Pet insurance could help you pay for emergency vet care

Pet ownership has increased, and pets are treated more like family members than before. The betterment of pets’ care means that quality veterinary care is in high demand. As a result, people are more willing to spend money on their pets and bring them to regular checkups. However, this has also contributed to an increase in vet prices. 

If you’re wondering, “How much does a vet visit cost?” continue reading below to find information on the cost of primary veterinary care, the difference between vet costs for cats and dogs, and how much emergency vet care may cost.

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How much does a vet visit cost?

Unfortunately for pet owners, the cost of veterinary care has been steadily increasing since the early 2000s and faster than the Consumer Price Index. This means that vet visits are becoming increasingly expensive in proportion to other price increases and income.

How much does a vet check-up cost? Let’s begin by looking at the average vet visit cost along with some prices for commonly-needed vet care:

Average Cost of Vet Visits and Common Vet Care

Type of Vet CareAverage Cost
Vet Check Up$50 - $250
Spay or Neuter$160 - $220
Vaccination$15 - $28
Physical Exam$45- $55
Fecal Exam $25 - $45
Heartworm Test$45 - $50
Dental Cleaning$70 - $400
Allergy Testing$195 - $300
Geriatric Screening$85 - $110
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The vet pricing for each service will vary depending on different factors, such as your location, the type of pet you have and breed, and your pet’s health history. Smaller pets are generally cheaper for vet care, while larger or older animals may cost more.

How much is a vet visit for a cat?

How much do vet visits cost for cats? Cats are likely to be less expensive than dogs, but vet costs for cats can still add up over time. Let’s look at some of the more complex vet care costs for cats:

Complex and Emergency Vet Care Costs for Cats

Vet ServiceAverage Cost for Cats
Cancer Treatment$3,282
Chemotherapy $4,000
Diabetes Treatment$1,634
Ophthalmology$227
Stomach Foreign Object$2,955
Broken Bone$2,257
Arthritis Treatment$490
Dental Disease/Periodontitis$768
Bladder/Urinary Tract Infection$1,053
Kidney Disease Treatment$1,318
Heart Murmur$1,440
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The estimated first-year cost for vet care for a cat is $1,174. However, the average lifetime cost for vet care for cats is $9,150.

How much is a vet visit for a dog?

How much is a vet check-up for dogs? Dogs are likely to be more expensive than smaller pets. For example, a dog surgery cost is expected to be more costly than the equivalent surgery for a cat. Let’s begin by looking at a veterinary price list for some more complex vet care costs for dogs:

Complex and Emergency Vet Care Costs for Dogs

Vet ServiceAverage Cost for Dogs
Cancer Treatment$4,137
Chemotherapy $4,000
Diabetes Treatment$2,892
Ophthalmology$319
Stomach Foreign Object$3,262
Broken Bone$2,371
Arthritis Treatment$724
Dental Disease/Periodontitis$519
Bladder/Urinary Tract Infection$424
Heart Murmur$1,140
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The average cost of vet visits for dogs in their first year is $1,471 for small dogs, $1,779 for medium dogs, and $2,008 for large dogs. However, the vet price for a dog over its lifetime could range between $7,565 and $19,060.

Your dog’s breed may be a primary determinant in the cost of vet care. In addition, some breeds will be more likely to deal with specific health issues, such as ACL tears, bladder stones, brachiocephalic syndrome, cancer, ear infections, hip dysplasia, knee and elbow dislocation, and slipped discs.

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How much is an emergency vet visit?

Fortunately, most veterinarian clinics have some time for walk-in vet services for emergencies, but how much does an emergency vet visit cost? This will vary based on the severity of the situation, but let’s take a look at typical emergency vet costs:

Average Cost of Emergency Vet Care

Emergency Vet Care ServicesAverage Cost
Emergency Room Exam$75 - $125
IV Catheter$60 - $75
IV Fluids$50 - $75
Blood Tests$75 - $150
Urine Tests$25 - $50
X-Rays$75 - $250
Blood Pressure Measurement$25 - $75
Pain Medication$40 - $80
Hospitalization/Vet Tech Monitoring$50 - $200
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These costs do not include the cost of treatment. These are the essential services needed to diagnose your pet and determine what kinds of treatment they need. On top of these emergency vet costs, you’ll need to pay for your pet’s treatment as needed.

Should I buy pet insurance?

Pet insurance allows you to be reimbursed for your vet bills. Many companies will reimburse up to 80%-100% of your out-of-pocket expenses after meeting your deductible. Most pet insurance plans will cover the following:

  • Unexpected accidents, injuries, or illnesses
  • Surgeries
  • Prescription medication
  • Testing and diagnostic services
  • Emergency exam costs

There are different pet insurance plans based on what you would like coverage for. For example, some plans will only cover accidents, some will cover accidents and illnesses, and others will cover accidents, illnesses, and wellness care.

The average monthly rate for pet insurance is $47 for dogs and $29 for cats, generally more manageable than the hefty bills for emergency vet care. 

If you want to protect yourself against paying large vet bills, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool below to find affordable pet insurance rates near you.