how much is a visit to the vet

How Much Is a Visit to the Vet?

by Jane Meggitt - 6/26/19

Taking your pet to the vet is part of responsible pet ownership. All dogs and cats should receive an annual wellness exam, which may include any necessary vaccinations. Kittens and puppies and senior cats and dogs require more frequent monitoring.

Average Veterinary Visit Costs

How much is a visit to the vet? The average cost for a vet visit depends on the geographic location and the number of veterinary practices in the area. If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of small animal vets from which to choose, you probably aren’t going to see much differential in their prices, as they must remain competitive. Nationally, the average cost of a physical examination runs between $45 and $55. If your animal requires vaccinations during this visit, expect to pay between $15 and $30 per vaccine, depending on the type.

Common Tests, Treatments and Costs

Your vet probably will tell you to bring a recent stool sample to your veterinary appointment. The costs of testing this sample for parasites usually runs between $25 and $45. A heartworm test will likely set you back around $50, treatment for an ear infection might cost $150 and care for a skin infection could cost $175. Urinary tract infections are common in male cats, and getting Kitty well and peeing normally may cost about $300. Treatment for diarrhea in either felines or canines “runs” about $200. Of course, special circumstances can add to the cost of these treatments.

Pet Veterinary Insurance

One way to save on the cost of your pet’s vet bills is by purchasing veterinary insurance. Expect to pay approximately $45 per month in insurance for a dog and $30 per month for a cat. The actual premium depends on your location, pet breed and age, and the type of coverage you choose. Many veterinary insurance providers will not accept senior animals on a policy, although you might continue coverage if the pet has been on the policy since its youth. Because large breed dogs often experience more health issues, expect to pay higher premiums for them. Coverage for specific breeds with common health issues will also cost you more. For example, golden retrievers usually cost more to cover because they are prone to high rates of cancer. Bulldogs also cost more to cover than the average breed because they often have genetic issues.

As with any insurance, you can expect deductibles, a reimbursement rate percentage – usually between 70 percent and 80 percent – and a maximum benefit amount. You can save money on premiums by raising your deductible or opting for a lower reimbursement percentage.

An animal with pre-existing conditions may not be insurable. Pet owners can generally choose between policies covering accidents and illnesses or policies only covering the former. If you choose accident-only coverage, you will pay less in premiums, but you’ll have to pay out of pocket if your pet gets sick.

The Benefits of Insurance

The difference between buying pet insurance and foregoing it may literally become a life or death decision. If your dog or cat is seriously ill or suffers a bad injury, the only certainty is that treatment will be expensive. A pet owner who can’t afford the treatment may be forced to have the animal euthanized. That’s a decision no one wants to make, especially if with treatment the animal could recover and have a good quality of life, but the only other option is going deeply into debt. If you have a pet insurance policy, at least some of your costs, if not all of them, will be covered. For that reason, it’s money well spent.

A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, The Alternative Daily,, The Happy Cat Site and The Nest Pets.