The Annual Vet Visit Cost: What to Expect Budget Accordingly for Your Pet's Next Check-Up

The Annual Vet Visit Cost: What to Expect
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Annual vet visits are important in maintaining your pet's health for years to come. Learn here what an annual check-up may cost so you can budget before your next visit.

Taking your pet to the veterinarian once a year is a must. These annual check-ups are an opportunity for the physician to give your four-legged friend a once over, and it’s also when your pet will receive their vaccination boosters and undergo certain health tests. The vet visit is also when certain conditions, like arthritis, can be identified and given treatment, such as Rimadyl (or Carprofen). So what does a standard vet visit cost?

These visits play an important role in maintaining your pet’s overall health, and every owner should expect to spend a certain amount on an appointment each year. Here we’ll break down the typical cost of an annual vet visit.

How Much is a Vet Checkup For a Dog?

There are four basic types of vet checkups for dogs: office calls, vaccine boosters, heartworm tests, and fecal exams. Each of these types of checkups has varying costs (depending on your location, specific vet, dog breed, etc.).

  • Office Calls: $45-$55
  • Vaccine Boosters: $18-$25
  • Heartworm Tests: $45-$50
  • Fecal Exams: $25-$45

Basic Costs

Once your dog or cat is into adulthood, these are the basic services that every pet parent should expect to pay for at the annual vet visit.

  • Office Call: This is the cost of the appointment and physical examination, and can vary widely depending on your geographic location and the veterinarian, or clinic, that you choose. The average cost is $45-$55.

  • Vaccine Boosters: Vaccine boosters are shots administered after the initial dose to keep the vaccine effective. Some of your pet’s vaccinations may require boosters while others may not, but most pets require 2-4 boosters each year. The average cost for booster shots ranges between $18-$25.

  • Heartworm Test: This annual test checks for heartworm disease, which is a serious and potentially deadly condition caused by parasitic worms. Blood testing for this disease generally costs $45-$50.

  • Fecal Exam: Fecal exams are performed to identify gastrointestinal parasites, and the importance of this testing as part of the annual check-up has grown in recent years. The average cost falls somewhere around $25-$45.

Additional Costs

Depending on your pet’s age or medical condition, you may need to pay for additional services at the annual vet visit.

  • Geriatric Screening: Older pets (typically 7 years and up) will require geriatric screening. This is a more comprehensive exam that may include complete blood work and chemistry, urinalysis, x-rays, and more. The typical cost for this type of exam is $85-$110.

  • Dental Cleaning: A dental cleaning is performed when your vet sees gingivitis in your pet’s mouth or notices bleeding during brushing. Many pets have their teeth cleaned once a year at the annual check-up. This procedure generally costs $70-$400 and will vary for dogs and cats.

  • Allergy Testing: Just like humans, dogs and cats can develop allergies and will typically exhibit symptoms such as itching, licking, and sneezing. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from allergies, your veterinarian may suggest an allergy test. Allergy testing is performed one of two ways -- with an intradermal skin test or with a blood test. Skin testing generally costs $195-$250, and blood testing generally costs $200-$300.

  • Surgery And Other Health Issues: If your pet has to undergo surgery, or has other health issues that require treatment, the cost can run into the thousands depending on your pet’s specific issue.

Taking your pet to the veterinarian once a year shouldn’t be treated as optional -- it’s a necessity. Be sure to budget for the visit along with any additional costs that may arise. If you are having trouble paying for your pet’s annual health care, you may want to look into purchasing pet insurance or a prescription plan for pets, such as PetPlus.

Want to spend less on vet visits?

Sign up for PetPlus, the first-ever prescription plan for pets. Find out how much a membership will help you save.

Facing a Big Vet Bill? 

For many dog owners, paying for vet bills out of pocket isn't always an option. Between the money you spend on their food and toys along with everything you have to pay for just in your own life, a big vet bill can definitely throw you for a loop.

Fortunately, if you are one of the many dog owners being faced with a looming quote or bill that you’re not sure you can afford up-front, there are many options so that you can get your pooch the care they need without having to sacrifice your own necessities.

#1 Ask for a payment plan

Vet offices realize that some costs simply aren’t easy to swallow. However, that’s the price we pay to keep our four-legged friends healthy and happy.

Most offices are definitely willing to step up to the plate and work with your budget so that they can deliver the utmost care to your pet without breaking the bank. It’s best to ask beforehand, if you can, to work out a payment plan. However, even after the fact, most offices are more than happy to work something out with you.

For those without pet insurance (and even those who have it), your office may be able to provide a payment plan. This means that, rather than paying everything upfront, you’ll be able to pay the bill in weekly or monthly installments that are a bit easier to manage,

If your clinic is registered with ScratchPay or a similar service, they should be able to offer a payment plan to you.

#2 Get a line of credit

In addition to considering a payment plan through the vet office directly, you can also try out a service like that will provide you with the financing of sorts to cover your vet bills.

Basically, the line of credit works like a credit card. You’ll be given a cap of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars and then any charges deducted from your line of credit can be paid back with time.

They will approve you for up to $2,000 in instantly available funds, so it might be a fantastic thing to look into, especially if you’re being faced with an emergency vet bill that you weren’t planning on.

Keep in mind that, while you’ll have between 6 and 24 months to fully repay what you borrowed, failing to pay it back in time will incur a hefty penalty. So long as you pay it back within the promotional period, you won’t have to pay interest.

Since this is a line of credit, it will report on your credit report so make paying it back seriously!

#3 Pet Insurance

Similar to the health insurance that you should be carrying for yourself, there are also pet insurance plans that can cover your vet bills with only a deductible coming out of your pocket.

Some pet insurance plans actually offer coverage even if your pet has pre-existing conditions. So, if you have gotten a quote for a treatment or surgery and you know it’s going to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, it might be worth it to go ahead and signup for insurance.

As always, be certain that you read the fine print. Some pet insurance plans will not cover pre-existing conditions and others will exclude certain things from their coverage. When in doubt, call to speak with a representative directly and tell them what situation you’re in.

Also, be certain that the clinic you will be taking your pooch to accepts your pet insurance. You can confirm this with a quick phone call.

#4 Charitable Organizations

Where you just hit with a big vet bill that you’re not so sure you’ll be able to cover on your own? If the above options won’t cut it, you might consider reaching out to a charitable organization or even setting up your own fundraising campaign.

GoFundMe is among the most popular platforms to raise money for causes, whether it’s the much-needed surgery for your dog or some other treatment that they desperately need, but you can’t afford on your own.

Some organizations will also be willing to give donations to cover emergency surgeries and vet bills. A few animal shelters have funds for just this purpose, although not all of them will be in a position to help since they have so many animals to care for on their own.

If you are reaching out to a foundation, consider the Brown Dog Foundation and the Pet Fund because they were specifically established to help people in your type of situation.

As a last resort, it never hurts to ask for family members and friends to pitch in. Explain to them what has happened, how much you need, and how soon you would ideally need it.

Bringing your dog along as you ask never hurts either, because who can say no to those puppy dog eyes?

#5 Create a pet bill fund

While this may not be of immediate assistance to you, using your recent vet bill as a lesson to build up a cushion for any similar future instances can prevent you from finding yourself in the same predicament again.

If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for pet insurance that you don’t foresee using again, you can put some money directly into a high-interest savings account every month in case your dog ever has another surprise vet visit pop up.

How much you put away will depend on your budget, but it could truly make a lifesaving difference next time your dog needs treatment or surgery that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to pay on your own.

Find a Vet in Your Area
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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