How much does a vet visit cost in 2023 for a dog?


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Pet ownership is both a joy and a great obligation for every owner. But the vet bills are also part of that joy.

How much the vet charges will depend on many things, such as why you are visiting( routine check-up or a specific appointment), when you are visiting (emergency or regular daytime vet visit), how old your dog is, Does it has known health problems, and so on.

In this article, we will try to give an insight into how much a checkup at the vet costs.

Average vet prices for dogs

Almost half of American households are also pet parents and own at least one dog. With the current economy, taking care of veterinary expenses can be harsh on family members. It also depends on whether you are going for a regular vet visit or you are making emergency visits.

Vaccinations and anti-parasite treatment for dogs

Starting from an early age, puppies need to get their first vaccines and their booster shots in order for them to have a long and healthy life. The reasons why vets insist on this is because puppies are more susceptible to certain viruses at their age, compared to adult dogs, and vaccines help them be prepared if they ever encounter the virus or bacteria.

The average vet bill that the owner would have to pay for vaccines is between $15-$30, which is not that high, compared to the treatment cost. The tablet for the intestinal worms and Dirofilaria would on average cost you around $10-$40 per month.

Do dogs need shots every year?

This could vary depending on where you live really. Where I come from, by law every owner is required to bring their dog for a rabies vaccine every year. And I personally recommend a booster shot for infectious diseases, because we live in a place where we have a lot of parvo cases.

Inform yourself about the status of the disease and government requirements. This way you will save yourself a lot of money, either by not paying a fine if your dog is not vaccinated against rabies or by protecting it from the infectious diseases that are local where you live.

Microchipping

This is something that is a Must for every cat or dog owner because accidents happen. There are numerous cases where a dog was either lost, stolen, or simply mischievous and ran away and they were found and happily returned to their family member because the shelter was able to contact them because the dog was chipped.

The average cost the pet parents could pay for the microchip is $20 plus the vet visit.

Physical examination

Every pet owner should be aware that regular visits to a good doctor could save money. The explanation behind this is that the vet doesn’t see your dog every day, which means that they are able to notice changes that owners don’t see on a daily basis. Whether that is a new growth or checking your pet’s weight, it is a good excuse for the vet to do a proper physical exam.

In my experience, this helps in two ways: first, the dog learns that it gets treats and not only needles, because the exam is painful-free, and second, the vet gets to put their hands on your dog. It’s a win-win for everyone.

During the examination, vets take your dogs’ temperature, and heart rate and measure their respiration rate. They also take a good look at their mouth to see if there are any changes in the gums, the teeth, and the oral cavity itself. Then they continue to their eyes, the ears,-checking for any ear infection, and they check the skin and coat condition.

The average price for the physical examination is around $50, which is not too much but could drastically reduce the vet bill if a condition is caught and treated on time.

Routine blood work and biochemistry check-ups

It is always a good idea to take your dog at least once a year for this type of routine check-ups. It only takes one pinch and some blood to be drawn and a few blood tests to be run. By doing this, the vet will be able to know what is going on with your dog’s body, meaning how his organs are functioning.

Blood work gives insight into your dog’s immune system, and helps the vet determine if your furry friend has enough red blood cells and thrombocytes which are important for clotting. biochemistry, on the other hand, gives information about how the internal organs, such as the liver and the kidneys work.

Owners could get vet bills that should be around $150.

Dental cleaning

Most pet parents are mildly flabbergasted when I mention to them oral hygiene. But the truth is that just as we need to take good care of our teeth if we want to have them for a longer time, the same goes for dogs, especially because they pretty much rely on them not just for chewing food.

Whenever first-time owners come with their brand new puppy, I try to give them my professional advice about teeth cleaning, because teaching your dog that teeth brushing is a must from an early age, means that when dogs become older, they won’t spend as much on the vet bill.

Annual checkups are a good way to see the mouth and teeth too and whenever there is tartar buildup, most vets will recommend a dental cleaning.

The average price for this procedure is usually around $300.

Unexpected Veterinary Costs

This is something that no owner is expecting to happen. No matter whether it is emergency care or it is a condition that has been lurking around, owners need to be prepared to receive a larger vet cost.

Potential Fees Associated with Emergency Vet Visits

Emergency vet visits are always stressful for every pet owner and they tend to be hard on the dog too. Luckily there are veterinary practices that have specialized in emergency medicine and they are usually well-prepared for everything that walks through their door.

During emergency visits, the veterinary services could cost at least double the normal price, which is why in cases like this it is always smart to have a pet insurance plan that covers this type of veterinary care.

In the list below, you will find the most common emergency visit to the vet and how much the owners would most likely pay:

C-section in bitches

As a vet, in my five years of working experience, most of the c-sections we had were all performed in the late or very early hours. For pet owners, this means that it requires a trip to emergency care and it means that the veterinary costs will be greater. But you will end up going home richer with couple a of sweet babies and their groggy mum.

You should be expecting to pay an average price of around $2000.

Stomach torsion and bloat treatment

This is a condition that requires emergency care and treatment because if not recognized on time it can prove to be fatal. Stomach torsion or also known as Gastric – Dilatation Volvulus, is more commonly seen in large breeds of dogs that have deep and narrow chests. The stomach tends to twist especially when you feed your pet and then let it run around and play on a full stomach.

Pet food, especially dry dog food bubbles up in the stomach and fills it in with gas. When the dog jumps around it causes the stomach to turn and this leads to bloating. Because this situation is life-threatening, it means a fast visit to the vet. If caught on time, these dogs usually tend to go back to their normal selves in just a couple of weeks.

The average cost for pet owners would be around $2000.

Fractures and torn ligaments

Orthopedic injuries are not something that a pet parent can see them coming. Many times dogs are reckless and run around like wild children and they end up getting hit by a car. Or sometimes they just jump like jumping beans and land themselves wrongly, causing them to rupture their cranial cruciate ligament.

Although the price for these interventions will vary depending on the place where the procedure is done, meaning whether it is done at a referral center or your local vet is performing it, it also would depend on the complexity of the procedure and the time it takes for the surgery to be completed.

Pet owners should expect to pay an average price for ACL around $3000 and as for fracture management, a pet parent could pay $3500.

Short and long hospitalizations

For every owner, their pet’s health is a priority and some health issues may require short or long hospitalization in order for the vets to run some specific diagnostic tests and give treatment.

If your pet requires a short hospitalization, the veterinary costs could be around $1500, while for longer periods, you could expect to pay even up to $3500.

How Breed, age, and size Affect Veterinary Costs

Before getting a puppy of a certain breed it is always smart to do a little bit of research regarding their health issues. This means that every dog breed has a certain genetic disease or a condition that they are more prone to compared to others.

As an example, DCM or dilated cardiomyopathy is a health disease that is genetically transmitted in Doberman Pinschers and it is often seen in this breed. However, this does not mean that other dog breeds don’t get DCM, it just means that the Doberman is more prone to it.

This means that as an owner of any breed, you may face certain veterinary costs, which can be related to the breed. This is why we strongly recommend you always buy a puppy from reputable breeders, who do genetic tests on their dogs, which in the long run, saves you money.

Pet’s age is another issue that will certainly affect the cost. It is normal that older pets are more prone to certain diseases, compared to most dogs who are still young or in their adult years. This is why it is always smart to invest in geriatric screening because this way you can always be on top of any hidden condition that may come with age.

When it comes to size, it is something that many pet owners have heard, that smaller breeds of dogs tend to live longer compared to medium and giant dogs. The life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain dog is between 8-10 years, compared to a Chihuahua which could live up to 14-15 years. However, old age is pretty much the same for the size of the dog. They all require regular lab tests and regular veterinary visits for checkups.

Type of vet

For many owners, it can be confusing why some practices charge more than others. Fecal exams are done the same way everywhere, right? So why should they be charged differently? The reason is that some vets don’t do the testing on their own, meaning they may need to send it to a specific lab and wait for the result to come and others already have the needed equipment in-house so they are able to do the screening on their own.

Another difference is that it is not the same if you take your vet to an emergency clinic or a clinic that works during normal hours. Emergency vet care is always more expensive because vets usually work hours when no one else works and they are facing some life-threatening situations that require them to be sharp and alert.

The last reason why veterinary care may cost differently is connected to the fact that you take your pet for a certain condition. For example, there are some referral centers that have specialized in specific fields of veterinary medicine and the people who work there are Board Certified specialists. This means that even though your vet can do orthopedic surgery, it does not mean he can do it as a specialist would do it.

Average costs for owning a dog the first year

We have established pet care costs. Many consider the first year to be a tough one because the vets just keep on saying what more needs to be done. However, every owner should be aware that preventative care is always the way to choose because it eventually ends up saving quite a lot of money.

It is considered that owners should expect to spend around $1300-$1500in the first year for their dogs. This involves food expenses, toys, and visiting the vet.

Facing a Big Vet Bill?

Since none of us can predict what will happen in the future, it is always a good idea to be prepared for what the future might bring. Nowadays, many people own more than one pet, which means that the chance of at least one of them needing emergency care is more than possible.

Whenever you are facing larger veterinary care costs the smart thing you can do is talk to your vet about making a paying plan, if that is possible. A lot of local vets are quite okay doing this, especially if you are a regular client and they have been taking care of your pet for a long time.

Can Vet insurance help with the expenses?

Yes, pet insurance can help! This works pretty much the same as human health insurance. It covers unexpected vet visit costs for accidents, illness, and injuries. You usually pay a monthly fee and when needed, the pet insurance or company will cover the medical bill for your pet.

What does pet insurance cover?

There are different pet insurance plans and they can cover different things. In general, you can expect them to cover: accidents, unexpected illness, chronic disease ( liver disease), prescription medications, and diagnostic tests (blood tests, x-ray, etc).

What pet insurance plans don’t cover?

  • Pet supplies
  • Elective surgeries
  • Boarding or daycare
  • Pet property damage
  • Routine care

Why do vet visits cost so much?

Finally, a little insight into why vet visits cost so much. Speaking as a vet, I can give you a short explanation. First of all, for every vet it takes a lot of time, to be more precise, at least six years of studying in order to obtain a DVM diploma.

Tuition fee is never cheap and living costs for students is also hard. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for a vet to finish school. There are many vets out there that graduate with huge student loans, so it is only natural that they would try their best to pay them off.

The second reason vet visit costs are that our learning journey does not stop when we graduate. Every vet continues to educate themselves through visiting congress, and lectures and some of them go on to continue their education in residency programs.


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