How Much Does a Vet Visit Cost? (2023 Guide)
Pets need health care, and not just when they’re sick. Regular vet visits are essential to keeping your pet healthy and should be factored into your budget just like food and toys. How regularly you need to take your pet to the vet depends on its age, breed, and health, but most vets recommend at least once per year.
So how much will vet visits cost you? It depends on the reason for the visit. We at the This Old House Reviews Team looked at common vet bills from some of the best pet insurance companies to see how much different types of vet visits typically cost. See what you can expect to pay below.
Typical Cost of a Vet Visit
The average cost of a vet visit is $50–$200, but certain tests and treatments will increase the price. It also depends on the level of care you choose, such as whether you opt to have anesthesia administered for procedures or take your pet to multiple specialists. A basic vet visit involving a brief, noninvasive assessment of your pet will cost closer to $50. A more thorough evaluation will cost more.
A healthy pet likely doesn’t need to visit a vet more than once or twice per year. If the cost of these visits feels overwhelming, you can enroll in a pet insurance plan, which reimburses up to 100% of vet bills depending on the provider you choose.
What Is a Vet Visit?
A vet visit is any instance in which you take your pet in to see a veterinarian. This could be for routine reasons or more dire circumstances, but there are some things most vets will do at almost every appointment:
- Administer flea, tick, heartworm, and other parasite prevention if needed
- Assess weight
- Check lymph nodes and throat
- Evaluate teeth
- Examine the eyes for redness
- Listen to the heart and lungs
- Look into the ears and nose for abnormalities
- Palpate the abdomen to check for masses or pain
- Take pulse and temperature
This evaluation will give your vet a good indication of your pet’s physical health. You’ll likely be asked questions about your pet’s behavior and have the chance to ask your own questions and share concerns. If you’ve come to the vet for a specific issue, your vet will make evaluations and administer treatment based on that condition.
Reasons for Vet Visits
There are many reasons to take your pet to see a veterinarian. Here are some of the most common.
Vets recommend a yearly exam—twice yearly for senior pets—to make sure your pet’s health is on track and administer any preventive care your pet may need. A full physical can run anywhere from $100–$300 for dogs and $90–$200 for cats, depending on its age, breed, and your location. The more testing your pet requires, the higher the price will be.
Pets experience allergies, too. Coughing, excessive licking, scratching, and sneezing are all signs your pet is dealing with allergies. A vet will likely conduct a skin test to determine what kind of allergy your pet has and make a treatment plan. This type of visit will likely cost $200–$250, or $200–$300 if a blood test is needed.
Diagnostic testing is necessary when you don’t know what’s going on with your pet. This can include blood work, MRIs, ultrasounds, urine tests, and X-rays. You should ask your vet in advance how much these tests will cost, but here are the average ranges:
- Blood work: $200–$300
- MRI: $1,500–$2,500
- Ultrasound: $300–$600
- Urine test: $25–$100
- X-ray: $75–$400, depending on complexity
Ear or Eye Issues
Eye and ear infections are common in pets. It could be due to bacteria, mites, yeast, or an unnoticed injury. A vet will examine the area, determine the cause, and recommend treatment, which may include a prescription. As long as the issue doesn’t point to a more serious health condition, this visit will typically cost $120–$150.
An emergency is the worst reason to have to see a vet. Thankfully, there are 24/7 emergency vet clinics and animal hospitals you can take your pet to if it experiences a serious injury or shows signs of illness. Just like with humans, going to an emergency clinic costs more. Here are the most common expenses:
- ER exam: $75–$200
- Overnight hospitalization: $600–$1,700
- Multi-night hospitalization: $1,500–$3,500
Spaying or Neutering
Spaying and neutering costs vary depending on the kind of veterinary care you want for your pet. Anesthesia, IV fluids, pain medication, and other add-ons will increase the price. Spaying also costs more than neutering because the procedure is more complex. Standard clinics charge $200–$400 for dogs and $50–$4,200 for cats.
Vaccinations are an important part of your pet’s health care. Core vaccinations should be administered in your pet’s first year of life based on the schedule your vet outlines. Your pet may need boosters as it ages.
Here are common vaccines and their costs:
- Bordetella: $19–$50/dose
- DAPP or DHPP: $25–$50/dose
- Feline leukemia: $25–$50/dose
- FVRCP: $25–$50/dose
- Influenza: $30–$50/dose
- Leptospirosis: $30–$50/dose
- Lyme disease: $30–$50/dose
- Rabies: $15–$50/dose
Factors That Affect the Cost of Vet Visits
How much vet visits cost can vary depending on a few factors. Here are some of the most common.
- Age: The older your pet is, the more thorough veterinary visits will be to detect underlying health problems.
- Breed: Some breeds are known for certain conditions your vet will want to monitor. Particular breeds also have a physical structure that makes exams and procedures more difficult. For example, French bulldogs have narrow airways and hips that can make procedures or exams involving these areas more difficult or dangerous.
- Gender: Some physical exams, such as reproductive evaluations, depend on gender. Female reproductive exams typically cost more due to the potential for pregnancy.
- Health history: If your pet has a history of certain health issues, your vet will want to regularly assess signs.
- Location: Expect prices to be higher in areas with high costs of living, such as metropolitan areas.
- Symptom severity: The more complex or dire your pet’s needs, the more veterinarian care will likely be needed, increasing the price.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Vet Visits?
Pet insurance can greatly offset veterinary costs and will cover most visits. Though routine checkups are rarely covered in basic accident-and-illness plans, diagnostic testing, emergency care, hospitalization, prescription medications, surgeries, and more are. Many providers offer wellness plans to cover preventive pet care, such as annual visits, for an extra monthly fee.
If you have a pet insurance plan, you’ll pay for your pet’s vet visit at checkout, then file a claim for that amount and get reimbursed by your provider within a couple of weeks. Most providers reimburse at least 70% of the vet bill, and some will reimburse as much as 100%.
If your pet needs care, the most important thing is to get to a vet as soon as possible. Being faced with a bill of $300 or more can be daunting, but visiting a vet clinic in a less metropolitan area can reduce the cost. We recommend that pet parents enroll their pet in a health insurance plan to prevent paying for vet bills out of pocket.
See our list of cheapest pet insurance companies for affordable options.
FAQ About Vet Visits
How much do most vet visits cost?
Routine vet visits typically cost $50–$300, depending on the evaluations and treatments performed. Emergency vet visits can run as high as a few thousand dollars.
Why does the vet charge so much?
Vet prices are high for various reasons. Vets set their rates based on their medical education and credentials, how complex the exam or procedure they’re performing is, your location, the use of expensive equipment, and other variables that warrant or require high fees.
How often should a dog go to the vet?
Healthy adult dogs should see a vet once per year for a routine wellness exam. Senior dogs should see a vet twice per year.
What are the most common vet visits?
Pet owners most commonly take their pets to the vet for routine care such as annual checkups, dental cleaning, vaccinations, and other preventive care. Other common reasons to take your pet to the vet are allergy testing, ear or eye infections, or illness or injury.