A sick pet can be worrisome and challenging, because they can’t communicate their symptoms. That’s when pet parents turn to their veterinarians who are skilled to identify illnesses and injuries using physical exam findings and diagnostic test results. Typically, the results of multiple diagnostics are needed to obtain a diagnosis and guide therapy. While these diagnostic tests can contribute to a longer, happier life for our beloved pets, their medical expenses can expensive.

Luckily, comprehensive pet health insurance coverage will reimburse a large portion – up to 90% depending on the policy you choose. Here, we break down a few of the most commonly recommended diagnostic tests and the cost you can expect to pay out-of-pocket if your four-legged family member isn’t protected with pet insurance.

Diagnostic tests covered by pet insurance

Blood tests

Just as with humans, your pet will need this type of testing throughout their life. This is a common tool to diagnose and treat various medical illnesses and injuries.

Blood testing can identify everything from glucose (blood sugar), liver and kidney values electrolytes, proteins and more. Blood tests, like a complete blood cell count or biochemical profile, give veterinarians important information about how well your pet’s body is functioning internally. For this reason, blood work may be necessary prior to anesthetic procedures. If your pet has a chronic illness, he or she may require more frequent testing throughout their life. Similarly, blood tests will become more common as your pet ages since illnesses and disease are likely to strike in their golden years.

A routine blood test can cost anywhere from $150 to $200.*


The urinalysis is the most common type of urine testing, because it checks the urinary tract for inflammation, infection and proper kidney function. If your pet has chronic kidney disease, he or she may require more frequent testing throughout their life. Thinking about at-home testing? Though its convenience can be tempting, the most efficient way to help your pet is by partnering with your veterinarian to get your pet the care it needs.

Expect to pay around $75 for your pet’s urinalysis*

Fecal Testing

Also referred to as fecal flotation, this test can detect many intestinal parasites such giardia, tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms. These parasites can cause serious problems for your pet such as diarrhea or even hematochezia and melena. In addition to the fecal test, pet health insurance providers will cover the treatment provided there is proof your pet receives monthly preventative medicine.

The price for a fecal test averages $30 to $40.*

Skin Testing

Skin tests are not painful and are commonly performed right in your veterinarian’s office. Skin cytology is a type of skin test that detects skin infections by examining a sample from the surface of your pet’s skin. If your veterinarian suspects a mite infection, they would use a skin scrape to check for these pesky critters in the hair follicles. Skin biopsies on the other hand are reserved for persistent skin lesions, more serious skin diseases or uncommon skin diseases like sebaceous adenitis. These skin biopsies identify and guide treatment for many skin issues including skin inflammations, fungal infections and skin cancer.

To test your pet’s skin, you’ll likely spend $40 to $50.*

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Diagnostic imaging

These tests allow veterinarians to see disease internally prior to pursuing invasive surgery. The most common are radiographs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs.

Radiographs or x-rays as we commonly refer to them, go well beyond examining fractures and broken bones. This technique can detect periodontal disease, foreign bodies, intestinal blockages and bladder stones.

Multiple view radiographs will cost at max, $350.*

Ultrasounds are more common outside of specialty practices for their ability to identify fluid and visualize soft tissue masses. These tests also help confirm pregnancy, evaluate internal organs, asses heart function, locate tumors and evaluate certain eye diseases.

An ultrasound can cost $250 to $500.*

CT Scans, or computed tomography, takes cross-sectional images of specific areas of the body to product a more detailed image of your pet’s internal organs. For example, a CT scan can assist in the diagnosis of diseases of the nasal and oral cavity as well as abnormalities in the abdomen, extremities and other body systems.

You’re likely to spend $1,500-$2,500 for a CT scan.*

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, offers more detail than other imaging diagnostics. By differentiating soft tissues, MRIs can identify lesions within the brain, spinal cord and other body systems. For example, a pet with a seizure disorder or back pain may require an MRI to guide treatment.

When an MRI is required, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.*

Due to the constant advancement of veterinary medicine, use of more sophisticated diagnostic tools and the specialized training required to interpret diagnostic test results, your bill can really add up if you don’t have pet health insurance. We hear it all the time: Will pet insurance cover an MRI? How about an ultrasound? All diagnostic tests recommended by your vet to treat or diagnose a covered injury or illness are eligible for reimbursement with a Petplan policy (as long as the tests are not for a pre-existing condition). See how Petplan’s comprehensive coverage can protect your pet and your wallet. 

*According to Petplan claims data.

Sep 12, 2019
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