Between vaccinations and fecal exams and diagnostic testing, the cost of a typical vet visit can climb quickly. Having a pet isn’t cheap, and you never want cost to be a barrier to getting the best care for your four-legged friend.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t start by mentioning the obvious—that Lemonade’s pet health insurance is an affordable way to take the bite out of many expensive vet bills. If you’re curious and want to get a quick price quote for your own dog or cat, just click the pink button below!
Meanwhile, let’s get into the expenses you might encounter with a typical vet visit. This way you won’t be shocked by a future bill. (Keep in mind that not all of these procedures would be covered by a pet health insurance policy.)
Here’s what we’ll be discussing in this article:
Caring for your pet’s ears
The straight poop on fecal exams
Spay and neuter costs
Geriatric screenings for older kitties and doggos
Pet insurance, & why it’s worth it
Just like humans, pets should get annual vet check-ups with a doctor you trust. These visits keep your pet safe and help alert you, early, if something is wrong with your cat or dog.
A basic vet visit will likely run anywhere from $45 to $55.
But a more extensive check-up for your dog—the equivalent of a “physical”—could bump that cost up to anywhere from $100 to $300. Similar exams for your cat could range from $90-$200. And any additional testing and exams will add to that price.
Most vets recommend an annual heartworm test. It checks for parasitic worms that are transmitted through mosquito bites. If you live in a mosquito-rich area, this heartworm testing is a must. When heartworm disease goes untreated, it can result in severe organ damage and heart failure. For around $50, your vet will draw your pets blood and send it off to a lab.
Ear infections are annoyingly common in both cats and dogs. A proper vet exam can figure out what’s causing the problem—it might be bacteria, yeast, or mites, none of which are too pleasant to think about—after which your doc can suggest a proper treatment.
Sometimes, an ear infection can be a sign of a different problem. If your cat or dog is scratching their ear, or if you spot symptoms like swelling, redness, a bad smell, or discharge… it’s time for an ear exam.
The exam plus medication would likely lead to a bill of $120 to $150, provided there’s not a more serious, underlying health issue causing the infection.
Medication to prevent fleas costs around $10 to $15 per month. It’s worth keeping on top of. If your pet brings fleas home, costs could start piling up. You might need flea removal shampoo, flea-killing sprays, or a professional pest service to deal with an infestation in your home. Fleas, after all, don’t just bite your pets—they’ll gladly go after the humans that live with them. Yuck.
None of us want internal parasites crawling in our pet’s intestines. Luckily, you can quickly catch these microscopic critters with a relatively affordable exam. Lab tests can cost $25 to $50. Your vet may recommend a fecal exam to be given annually, or as needed. This is another case where early action will save you cash… If your vet discovers parasites at a later stage, treatment could cost $400 to $1,000.
Some vets ask for a fecal swab, and others suggest a full sample of stool—but hey, you’re probably used to getting up close and personal with your pet’s poop.
Dogs and cats might not need Invisalign or veneers, but their dental bills can still add up quickly. And pet dental care isn’t just about a pleasing smile; it’s about maintaining your furry friend’s overall health.
For most dogs, dental cleaning requires anesthesia and can last over an hour. If your pet is young and healthy, a regular cleaning will be on the lower end of $500 to $1,000. That’s not a typo. For an older dog with oral health issues, the cost could actually be over $1,000.
While dental cleaning for cats are more modest—sometimes as low as $200—certain feline teeth can require extra attention, bumping the cost of vet bills. It wouldn’t be unheard of to spend $1,000 on your cat’s dental care.
Meanwhile, you can help your cat or dog’s oral hygiene by brushing their teeth—yes, really—or giving them treats, like Greenie’s, that are good for their chompers.
When we think about cat or dog allergies, we generally think of humans who are allergic to their animal companions. But your pets can have allergies, too! Sneezing, coughing, licking, and itching are all signs of allergies.
Most vets agree that skin tests give the most accurate results. This test can range from $195 to $250. If you prefer a blood test, the price can vary from $200 to $300.
Spaying and neutering
These procedures have more benefits than you might think. Spaying and neutering your pet obviously prevents unwanted puppy and kitten litters, but also protects your pets from serious health and temperament issues.
Prices vary greatly depending on breed, age, size, health status, and location. At low-cost vet clinics, you might be charged $50 to $100 for dogs and $50 to $200 for cats. Standard clinics can range from $200 to $400 for dogs and $50 to $200 for cats. (Due to the complexity of the procedure, spaying female cats and dogs is generally more expensive than neutering male pets.)
Of course, like with many procedures, there’s a high end. For dogs, going all out could run as high as $2,000. “The gold standard includes IV catheter, IV fluids, pre-anesthesia blood work, licensed nurses monitoring your pet, pain medication and additional therapy for aftercare,” Dr. Liff explains.
But that’s not to say you’re doing your a pet a disservice by choosing an option that fits your personal budget! If you don’t mind adding your name to a waitlist, many shelters offer free services.
As our cats and dogs age, they get wiser—but they also run more of a risk of health problems. Starting from the age of 7 or so, your pet can receive a geriatric screening to check for early signs of age-related diseases. The exam involves urine analysis, bloodwork, and x-rays. Average costs range from $85 to $110.
This is a big topic that’s really worth its own article—and conveniently, we have one for you! But you can find the TL;DR version below, covering the basics for both dogs and cats in two snazzy charts.
Dog vaccination cheatsheet
|Vaccine||Does my dog need this?||Cost|
|DAPP or DHPP||All dogs should get this one at least every 2 years. We recommend it annually for social dogs.||$25–$50/dose|
|Rabies||Yup. Your dog will appreciate this one. Get the booster annually if your dog is outdoors often, or every 3 years if your dog mostly stays inside.||$15–$50/dose|
|Bordetella||Yes, if you plan on boarding your pup or registering them for training classes. This booster is given every 6 months. For less social dogs, we recommend annually.||$19–$50/dose|
|Leptospirosis||If your dog is always outside or close to wildlife, yes. Get this vaccine annually.||$30–$50/dose|
|Lyme disease||This one’s given annual for dogs in areas with a high risk for tick bites.||$30–$50/dose|
|Influenza||If your dog is hanging at the dog park or playing at doggy daycare, this one’s a must. Get this shot annually.||$30–$50/dose|
Cat vaccination cheatsheet
|Rabies||3 initial doses when they’re kittens, then an annual booster.||$25–$50/dose|
|FVRCP||2 initial doses for kittens, then an annual booster||$25–$50/dose|
|Feline Leukemia||1 initial dose for kittens, followed by an annual booster (for outdoor cats) or a shot every 1 to 2 years (indoor cats)||$25–$50/dose|
It can be hard to predict exact costs for diagnostic tests, as they vary from vet to vet. But here are some basic ranges to keep in mind. (You can always ask your own vet for some price quotes in advance, to get an idea of where on this spectrum they might fall.)
|X-rays:||$75–$250 for basic, or up to $400 for more complex|
Unsurprisingly, emergency visits for your pet tend to be more expensive than routine vet care. And it’s good to have an idea of what costs you might incur, since thinking about $ is the last thing you’ll want to do if your pet is injured or in need of immediate care. Here are some basic ranges to consider.
|Diagnostic testing (varies greatly)||$200–$4,000|
|Overnight hospitalization||$600–$1,700/night (!!)|
Why pet insurance is worth it
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of these veterinary care costs, we understand! Keeping your fur fam healthy can be expensive. We never want the fear of maxing out your credit card to be the reason you dread a vet visit.
Pet health insurance can be an economical way to recoup many expenses you might encounter at the vet. For instance, adding the Preventative & Wellness package to your Lemonade Pet policy will help cover costs for things like annual heartworm tests, certain vaccinations, and more. And your basic policy itself will be useful in the case of accidents and illnesses, including big ticket treatments that you might otherwise not be able to afford.
It’s always a good idea to get your cat or dog signed up early, before they develop any pre-existing conditions! Click below to get started—it only takes a few minutes.