Average Cost of a Vet Visit for Dogs in 2021: How Much Should I Expect to Pay?

From food to toys and accessories, the cost of owning a dog can quickly add up. When you add in veterinary visits, it can become surprisingly expensive. Most people make the mistake of assuming that owning a dog is inexpensive — just buy a few toys and budget for food costs, and you’re good to go. But there are more costs that need to be taken into consideration — most importantly, the costs concerning your dog’s health and well-being.

From vaccinations to routine checkups and possible injury or illness, your dog will need to go to a vet from time to time, and it’s best to plan and budget for these costs beforehand. In this article, we look at the average cost of vet visits for your pooch and roughly what you can expect to pay, so you can plan accordingly. Let’s dive in!Divider 1

How Much Is a Vet Visit for a Dog?

The cost of a vet visit for your dog can vary widely depending on the context. Is your dog simply going in for a routine checkup, or is there something more serious at hand? Aside from routine vaccinations, your dog will need to go for regular checkups at least once or twice a year, and you can expect to pay between $50-$100 per visit.

During a routine checkup, your vet will usually take the following actions:

  • Check vital signs, including temperature, pulse, weight, and respiration.
  • Do a physical examination, with a head-to-tail inspection of your dog’s coat, legs, and joints to check for any swelling or pain.
  • Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.
  • Do diagnostic health screenings depending on your dog’s age, including blood count, urinalysis, and X-rays.

French Bulldog sick at vet
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Depending on your dog’s age and condition, your vet may recommend additional diagnostics, including a biochemistry profile and thyroid hormone testing. For older dogs, these may include additional X-rays to check for any joint degeneration.

Apart from this routine checkup, your vet may recommend a few other procedures that can add to the standard checkup cost. These could include:

  • Dental cleaning. Routine dental cleaning is highly recommended to prevent dental disease and can range from anywhere between $300-$800, depending on the severity.
  • Heartworm tests. Most vets recommend this test at least once annually, and it usually costs around $50 for a blood sample to be sent to a lab. Heartworm is a serious disease, and this is a relatively low cost to make sure your dog is all clear.
  • Fecal examinations. Also recommended at least once annually, fecal exams are helpful for checking whether your dog has any parasites, such as hookworms. They typically cost between $25-$50.

Standard Vet Procedures by Region

Procedure West Coast Midwest East Coast
Office Visit $50.95 $47.95 $57.95
Rabies Shot $24.54 $23.66 $26.08
Professional Teeth Cleaning $317.95 $300.95 $347.95
Neuter package (6+ months)

 

$453.95

 

$406.95

 

$448.95

 

Neuter package (less than 6 months)

 

$389.95

 

$348.95

 

$384.95

 

Spay package (6+ months/50+ pounds)

 

$548.95

 

$491.95

 

$541.95

 

Spay package (6+ months/less than 50 pounds)

 

$478.95

 

$428.95

 

$472.95

 

Spay package (less than 6 months)

 

$415.95

 

$372.95

 

$410.95

 

Source: https://www.banfield.com/Services/price-estimator

Divider 8Additional Costs

If your vet discovers anything out of the ordinary during a routine checkup, there will likely need to be additional tests and thus, additional costs. In general, your vet will only need to perform additional tests if they need to narrow down the issue with your dog so they can prescribe a sufficient treatment. Sometimes, though, they may know what’s wrong right away. Still, there may be a procedure or medication that is required, which can result in extra costs.

Common additional costs that you may want to prepare for include:

  • Tooth extractions. Your dog may have damaged a tooth, have tooth decay, or have an infection and need to have a tooth removed. The fees for this procedure can depend on several factors, including the breed and temperament of your dog, the severity of the infection, and which part of your dog’s mouth is affected. In general, you can expect to pay as little as $40 or up to $400 for severe cases.
  • Geriatric screenings. For dogs 7 years or older, your vet will usually recommend a geriatric screening. This is a more comprehensive checkup that involves complete bloodwork, X-rays, urinalysis, fecal analysis, etc. You can expect to pay $80-$120 for this additional screening.
  • Allergy testing. Your vet may suspect that your pooch has an allergy of some kind and will need to perform a test. This is done with either an intradermal skin test, which can cost between $200-$250, or a blood test, which can typically cost around $200-$300.

veterinarian is doing ultrasound
Image Credit: thirawatana phaisalratana, Shutterstock

What to Expect Financially From an Emergency Vet Visit

If your dog has an emergency, the bill can potentially run into the thousands of dollars, depending on the situation. This will be even more expensive if your dog needs emergency care after hours. Your dog may need additional tests, which can be expensive, or they may go straight into treatment.

Depending on your dog’s unique situation, you can expect any of the following costs:

  • Typical ER exam: $70-$150
  • Basic blood tests: $70-$150
  • Basic urine tests: $20-$50
  • Catheter: $50-$70
  • IV fluids: $50-$80
  • X-rays: $70-$150
  • Medication: $50-$150
  • Hospitalization: $50-$200 (per night)

Remember that these prices will vary depending on your dog’s age and breed. This is because older dogs and large breeds are more difficult to care for than younger, smaller breeds.

Which Vet Bills Do Pet Insurance Companies Cover?

It’s important to adequately research what a pet insurance company offers in their plan before signing up, so you are not in for any surprises. Every pet insurance company has varying plans with different pricing, but they should all offer you peace of mind knowing that your dog is covered.

Depending on your provider, you can get comprehensive, “nose-to-tail” coverage that covers a wide range of vet bills, but this will be the most expensive plan.

Typically, a comprehensive plan will cover:

  • Routine checkups
  • Accidents and injuries (poisonings, broken bones)
  • Chronic illnesses (allergies, arthritis)
  • Common illnesses (infections, diarrhea)
  • Serious illness (cancer, heart disease)
  • Diagnostics and testing (X-rays, blood tests)
  • Emergency care( hospitalization, surgery)
  • Wellness procedures (vaccinations, spaying, and neutering)

Alternatively, you can choose a less expensive policy with fewer benefits. Some policies may only cover basic veterinary care or only accidents and illnesses, and these can be as little as $5-$10 per month. Some companies allow you to personally tailor your policy. Whatever you choose, make sure your provider is clear about exactly what is covered, so you know exactly what to expect during a vet visit.

How Often Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Generally speaking, all dogs should have a general checkup with a vet at least once a year. Puppies will need to go more often — every 2-3 months or so — because they’ll need vaccinations and checks for parasites. An annual wellness exam is an essential part of routine health maintenance for your dog, as important as good nutrition, regular exercise, and training. It can help prevent illness and disease that could end up costing much more if left unchecked.

Senior dogs, like puppies, need more regular checkups. Older dogs are more prone to disease and injury and should have a checkup at least twice yearly. Your vet will usually run diagnostic tests that will help indicate any issues in the future, since they’ll have a clear indication of what your dog’s baseline is.Divider 2

Conclusion

The cost of vet visits is an essential and unavoidable part of owning a dog, and there is no way of getting around the fact that it can be expensive at times, which is why dedicated pet insurance can be so helpful. Emergency visits can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, and even routine visits can get expensive. Remember that the age and breed of your dog will also play large parts in the costs involved, so it helps to be prepared.

Your dog is a part of your family, and along with initial costs and things like food and toys, regular veterinary care is an essential expense that should not be overlooked. It’s always essential to evaluate your financial situation, your time, and your dedication before buying a pooch. One thing is for sure, though, the joy that your four-legged friend brings you is certainly worth the cost!


Featured image credit: Ruth Black, Shutterstock