The Cost of Veterinary Care

Few – if any – veterinary professionals enjoy discussing the cost of veterinary care. There are strongly held convictions on both sides of the vet-client relationship: Many pet owners think veterinarians charge outrageous prices and are more lucrative than human physicians (insider info: we’re not); many veterinary professionals think people who can’t afford the medical care of their pet shouldn’t be pet owners. I firmly disagree with both these sentiments – and below is why.

Pets are great companions and very important for our mental health – there is good research to back this up. This is one reason among many why I feel strongly that we need to find ways as veterinary professionals to provide access to care for all pet owners in some capacity. On the flip side, I can tell you personally that veterinarians and veterinary team members did not enter the profession to become rich. Most of us entered the profession because we love animals and want to help them in whatever way we can. However, veterinary hospitals are still businesses with bills to pay, and we cannot give our services away for free while still paying our staff livable wages and practicing high-quality medicine. 

At Love City Vet we are passionate about modern and equitable vet care and transparent pricing. I’ve listed some of the average costs of different procedures and illnesses that can arise to better prepare pet owners for possible unexpected medical costs.  

 

PROCEDURE

      COST*

Emergency Visit at 24-hour hospital

    $180-250

Three view radiographs with radiologist interpretation

    $350-400

Comprehensive Bloodwork

    $200-350

Abdominal ultrasound

    $400-650

One day of hospitalization at 24-hour hospital

  $1000-2000

Parvovirus treatment and hospitalization 

  $2000-4000

Toxin ingestion with induced vomiting

  $1000-2500

Surgery for an ACL (cranial cruciate ligament) tear (TPLO)

  $5000-6500

Feline urethral obstruction (blocked cat)

  $1000-3500

Fracture repair

  $3500-7000

Emergency spay due to infected uterus (Pyometra)

  $1000-3500

Foreign body surgery due to ingestion of foreign material   $3000-6000

 

I know some of these numbers may be initially alarming but consider this: costs of medications and medical equipment – many of the same you’d find in top-notch human health facilities – have gone up, and there is no medical reimbursement for vet care (unlike human hospitals which are reimbursed through programs like Medicare). I strongly believe preventative care and regular vet visits can help avoid some serious future illnesses. Still, it’s also worth educating owners about what may lie ahead for certain breeds or older animals.

No matter your situation, at Love City Vet we are committed to giving pet owners different payment options. We partner with VetBilling, ScratchPay, and Care Credit to provide options and payment plans to lessen the burden of paying everything in full. 

Lastly, I do not feel like the veterinary community overall does a good enough job discussing pet insurance. Pet insurance is not the same as human insurance, so it’s fair to be confused. The way most pet insurances work, the owner fronts the bill and submits the claim to the insurance company for reimbursement. There are a few companies that have options for direct payment to the veterinarian. Some plans cover only emergency visits; however, some plans also cover wellness services such as vaccines, annual bloodwork, and preventatives. Each pet is an individual so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In general, I recommend signing pets up for pet insurance as early as possible – immediately after adopting a puppy or kitten is the perfect time to do so. Many insurance companies take into consideration age and pre-existing medical conditions. Therefore, most plans are more affordable the earlier you sign the pet up. Insurance can be extremely valuable. Many plans can cover a large percentage of certain veterinary bills. As veterinary professionals, we love this because pet owners can afford the highest standard of care for their pets. Pawlicy Advisor can be a great resource that compares pet insurance options for each individual pet based on their breed, age, and other parameters. 

We understand that talking about finances can be uncomfortable. At Love City Vet, we will never pressure you into paying for something you can not afford. If you are open with us about your financial situation in regards to your pet, we can make sure to create a treatment plan that fits or provide you with payment options through one of our partners as mentioned above. You will always know exactly how much your bill will be before you leave the exam room. Our pricing is transparent and we like to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the cost of veterinary care. 

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*These costs are listed as ranges based on what I have seen in the area. They are by no means to be taken as absolute. The care of each individual case will vary based on numerous factors not discussed in detail here. If your pet is having an emergency or you need an estimate, you may call any of the local 24-hour facilities and ask for an estimate.