how much does a vet visit for a sick dog cost?

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How much does a vet visit cost for sick dog?
Posted by Jennifer Maniet, DVM on Nov 01 2019

All pets are at risk for developing illnesses and injuries. In fact, illness is the third most common reason for a pet to see a veterinarian.*

Unfortunately, many pet owners are not prepared for the costs associated with these medical issues. While sick care costs are unpredictable, having comprehensive pet insurance already in place can help you say “yes” to the recommended care your pet needs.

What determines your vet bill cost?

There are three main cost components of any sick visit: the examination fee, diagnostics and treatment. Budgeting for sick visits can be difficult because of the many factors that impact the price, but we provide a general idea below.

1. Location of the veterinary hospital.

Veterinary care varies by state. According to Petplan claims data, residents of California, D.C., Hawaii, Louisiana and New Mexico can expect to pay the most for sick veterinary care.

2. Type of veterinary hospital.

General hospitals and clinics treat many common illnesses and injuries, but for specialty and emergency care, pets must go to a veterinarian who has the advanced equipment and knowledge needed. If your Pitbull suffers from seizures, a consultation with a neurologist and an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be the next step.

The general practice veterinarian’s sick visit cost: exam fees average between $45 and $65, while diagnostics and various treatments can cost up to $1,500.**

The specialist’s sick visit cost: exam fees average anywhere from $100 to $250. The diagnostics and treatments can cost as little as $40 or as much as $3,000.**

3. Type of illness or injury.

Illnesses and injuries that are complicated or life-threatening come with a higher price tag. While an infection with gastrointestinal worms may cost $181, surgery to remove an intestinal foreign body obstruction costs around $3,168!**

4. Extent of care required. 

If your pet has a medical condition such as an ear infection that can be treated and discharged from the hospital the same day , the cost will be lower. However, if your pet requires extended hospitalization for an emergency such as gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat), or needs a surgeon to treat a portosystemic (liver) shunt, chances are you’ll be paying significantly more.

A sick visit cost for an ear infection averages $474.

A sick visit cost for bloat averages $4,012, and a sick visit cost for a liver shunt averages $3,056.**

Making Veterinary Care Affordable

Every pet is unique and may experience symptoms differently, so consult your veterinarian at the first sign of a problem. If you’re concerned that a visit to the vet will overwhelm your family’s budget, consider pet insurance BEFORE something happens instead of turning to high-interest loans or credit cards after it does (since pet insurance will not be able to cover a pre-existing condition).  

Comprehensive pet insurance covers all veterinary recommended diagnostic tests, treatments, and the sick exam, too – so you can spend less time budgeting and more time focusing on getting your pet back on their paws.

*2017-2018 AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.

**According to Petplan claims data.